I was born in Leningrad (presently St. Petersburg), but left the Soviet Union at the age of ten. I attended high school in Texas and university in New England. After wandering the earth in the guises of interpreter/translator and camp counselor/outdoor educator, I went to the University of California, Berkeley, where I received training in both Russian and North American history. Before arriving at SFU in 2004, I spent two years teaching at the American University in Bulgaria.
The bulk of my research is directed to examining the culture, commerce, politics, and colonial practices of nineteenth-century Russian Empire. I wrote a book that explores the paradox of Russian America (aka Alaska, 1741-1867) as a sole overseas colony of an empire that otherwise conformed to a continental, as opposed to maritime, modus operandi. I am also keenly interested in how Russian imperial officials responded to, learned from, and incorporated the colonial practices of their neighbours and competitors, particularly the British in North America and the Ottomans in the Balkans.
Russian America: An Overseas Colony of a Continental Empire, 1804-1867
Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011
- '"Building a Diocese Overseas: The Orthodox Church in Partnership with the Russian-American Company in Alaska.” Ab Imperio, 3 (2010): 152-194.'
- 'Why Did Russia Sell Alaska?', Acta Slavica Iaponica, 23 (2006): 202-210
- 'The Russian-American Company as a Colonial Contractor for the Russian Empire' in Alexei Miller and Alfred J. Rieber eds., Imperial Rule (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2004), pp. 161-176.
- 'Circumnavigation, Empire, Modernity, Race: the Impact of Round-the-World Voyages on Russia's Imperial Consciousness', Ab Imperio, 1-2, (2001): 191-210.
- 'Classical Eurasianism and its Legacy', Canadian-American Slavic Studies, 34 (2000): 125-139.
Current Graduate Students: