Sergey Saluschev

PhD Student of History, UC Santa Barbara

When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies?

I first developed interest in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies as a middle school student in Russia. I credit two of my history teachers for sparking the light of curiosity in the long and complicated history of Slavic communities in the Eurasian region. I was fortunate to have truly dedicated teachers who invested a lot of time and effort in making their lectures engaging and thought-provoking. Since that time, my interest in the history of Russia and its neighbors continued to magnify and deepen.

How have your interests changed since then?

Each step of my academic journey has presented an opportunity to reassess and refine the focus and direction of my research. While my interest in the Russian history never changed or abated, I did change the lenses of analysis from time to time. As an undergraduate student at University of California Davis, I examined modern Russia’s place in the system of international relations and the politics of national self-determination in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a graduate student at University of California Santa Barbara, however, my focus shifted to the region where I grew up and whose history has long tantalized my curiosity – the Caucasus.

What research project are you pursuing with the Dissertation Grant?

I am very grateful to ASEEES for its support; the Dissertation Grant is a huge help for bringing my research objectives to fruition. I will use the Dissertation Grant to investigate the phenomenon of slavery and the slave trade in the nineteenth-century Caucasus. The long nineteenth-century witnessed transformation of the Caucasus from a peripheral borderland terrain of the three regional empires into a major transnational hub of slave commerce. The story of enslavement, captivity, and the slave trade in the Caucasus, is a story that left palpable cultural impact and had momentous political implications not only for the people living in the Caucasus but also Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Yet, despite the centrality of the region for transnational network of slave commerce and its conspicuous presence in the international abolitionist debates, the history of slavery and the slave trade in the Caucasus remains understudied. My research project will illuminate the practices of slavery in the region by investigating Russian archival documents and putting the findings of my research in conversation with the scholarship on slavery in the Ottoman Empire, Iran, and the Transatlantic region. This research will take a long time, will require extensive travel, and, without doubt, will be challenging. But despite the challenges ahead, I am very excited to contribute to the fields of Russian history, history of the Caucasus, and slavery and the slave trade in the region.

What do you value about your ASEEES membership?

As a graduate student and young scholar, I value the opportunity to present my work and share ideas with my colleagues and friends at the ASEEES annual conventions. In 2015, I had the privilege to present a research paper at the ASEEES convention in Philadelphia on the cultural links that tied together the Russian Empire and Iran in the nineteenth century. I received an ample amount of feedback and suggestion for my research, which allowed me to narrow the focus of my research inquiry and ultimately improved my paper. Further, the mission of the Association and its resources serve as an invaluable mechanism to bring together scholars from a broad range of academic fields and different countries who share similar research interests. I also value the fact that ASEEES membership fosters a community of intellectual exchange and enables early career scholars to collaborate, communicate, and learn from established in the teaching and research career scholars.

Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?

In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, hiking, and exploring national and state parks. You can frequently find me in the gym of my university where I like to work out with several of my trusty comrades from my graduate program; going to gym on a regular basis proved to be an effective remedy for dealing with the stress of graduate school. When not reading history books, I enjoy reading classical Russian literature. This prompted me to establish informal Russian Classics Book Circle on my university campus for students and faculty who share my passion for nineteenth century Russian literature. Finally, in addition to these hobbies, I enjoy expanding my, still modest, numismatic and philately collections.