Ph.D. 1993, Rice University; B.A. 1985, McGill University.
Office Address: 25 Waverly Place New York, NY 10003
Areas of Research/Interest
Former Soviet Union, Siberia, the Caucasus; cultural history and politics; religion.
Associated with other departments or programs
The Edifice Complex: Architecture and the Political Life of Surplus in the New Baku, Public Culture, 26, no. 3, (2014): 501-528.
We Are All Eurasian, NewsNet: Bulletin of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies 52, no. 1 (2012): 1-6.
Recognizing Soviet Culture, in Reconstructing the House of Culture, Joachim Otto Habeck and Brian Donahoe, eds. (New York: Berghahn Press, 2012), 263-276.
Shrines and Sovereigns: Life, Death, and Religion in Azerbaijan, Comparative Studies in Society and History 53, no. 3 (2011): 654-681.
Cosmopolitan Baku. Ethnos 75, no. 2 (2010): 123-147.
[Editor] The Russia Reader: History, Culture, Politics [with Adele Barker]. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.
The Captive and the Gift: Cultural Histories of Sovereignty in Russia and the Caucasus. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009.
*Honorable Mention for the Harvard Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies
[Editor] Caucasus Paradigms: Anthropologies, Histories, and the Making of a World Area [with Lale Yalçın-Heckmann]. Berlin: LIT, 2007.
The Good Russian Prisoner: Naturalizing Violence in the Caucasus Mountains. Cultural Anthropology 20, no. 1 (2005): 39-67.
"An Average Azeri Village" (1930). Slavic Review 63, no. 4 (2004): 705-731.
New Moscow Monuments, or, States of Innocence. American Ethnologist 28, no. 2 (2001): 332-362.
[Editor] The Social Organization of the Gilyak, by Lev Shternberg. New York and Seattle: American Museum of Natural History and the University of Washington Press, 1999.
[Editor] Neotraditionalism in the Russian North: Indigenous Peoples and the Legacy of Perestroika, by Aleksandr Pika. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999.
"The Return of the Repressed: Conversations with Three Russian Entrepreneurs," in Paranoia within Reason: A Casebook on Conspiracy as Explanation, edited by George Marcus, 241-267. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
In the Soviet House of Culture: A Century of Perestroikas. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.
*Winner of the Prize for Best First Book awarded by the American Ethnological Society, 1996.
"Dirges for Soviets Passed: Conversations with Six Russian Writers," in Perilous States: Conversations on Culture, Politics, and Nation, edited by George Marcus, 17-51. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
"Siberia Hot and Cold: Reconstructing the Image of Siberian Indigenous Peoples," in Between Heaven and Hell: The Myth of Siberia in Russian Culture, edited by Galya Diment and Yuri Slezkine, 227-253. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
Updated August 2014
I am currently at work on a handful of projects including a project on the role of satire in authoritarian settings as seen through the life and work of Celil Memmedquluzade, editor of the Azeri-language, cross regional journal, Molla Nesreddin, which was published from 1906-1931; a study of changing social mores in the rapidly transforming capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, from model socialist urban centre to nationalizing metropolis; and an ongoing study of rural religious shrines in the Caucasus, with particular regard for the rich historiographies surrounding them, and the way those histories challenge conventional narratives of Caucasus social life.
Come this fall, I will be teaching two courses: an introductory undergraduate course in ethnography; and a graduate seminar in political anthropology. I am also joining the staff of NYU's Graduate School of Arts and Science, as Vice-Dean, to work with faculty on building new programs.