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Mogilner, Marina

Prof. Marina Mogilner, Ph.D.

Honorary Research Associate
– Former Visiting Fellow


University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of History
1001 University Hall
601 S. Morgan St.
Chicago, IL 60607

Website: Webprofile (private)


Marina Mogilner is an Associate Professor and Holder of the Edward and Marianna Thaden Chair in Russian and East European Intellectual History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In June and early July 2018 she is a Visiting Research Fellow of the Graduate School in Munich. Mogilner has received twenty-six awards, grants and fellowships so far.

Mogilner studied history in Kazan, Budapest and Albany. In 2000 she earned a Ph.D. at the Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Before joining the University of Illiinois at Chicago, she was the Academic Director at the Center for Jewish History and Culture at Kazan Federal University; the Academic Director and a lecturer at the Center for the Study of Nationalism and Empire; Academic Director at the Center for Democratic Education at Rutgers University-Kazan Federal University; and a lecturer with the Department of HIstory at Kazan State University. The focus of her research is imperial history of Russia and the Soviet Union. Her publications cover various aspects of Russian history, for example the genesis, rise and demise of the intellectual canon of Russian radicalism of the nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries in its pan-imperial dimension and the history of Russian physical anthropology.

Research Project

During her stay at the Graduate School, she will continue to work on a manuscript currently entitled A Race for the Future: The Scientific Visions of Modern Russian Jewishness. This is a story of Russian-Jewish engagements with race, racialized political thinking and science (such as physical anthropology, medical statistics or eugenics) from mid-19th c. to the Soviet 1930s. In the mid-19 century, many Russian-Jewish intellectuals turned to “race” as a new conceptual framework allowing them to reintegrate the fragmented Jewry that in terms of new social and political sciences had ceased to qualify as a nation. Jews did not exhibit the commonality of traditions, historical experience and language, and did not have a national territory. Race as a hard-core foundation of a common identity promised to compensate for these deficiencies. This was obviously a case of postcolonial reinvention of modern Jewish identity by means of appropriating and redefining a concept that belonged to the hegemonic repertoire of imperial rule and inspired and justified violence against Jews as a group. The book includes an "intellectual history" part that focuses on a group of Jewish intellectuals who explicitly identified as race scientists, and "political and social history" parts dealing with "race" in the Russian-Jewish political debates and with Jewish medicalized politics (Jewish medical societies, OZE movement and so on).


  • Visiting Research Fellow, June – July 2018

Publications (selected)


Homo Imperii: A History of Physical Anthropology in Russia (Lincoln/London: University of Nebraska Press, 2013).
Journal Articles and Book Chapters

"The Empire-Born Criminal: Atavisms, Survivals, Irrational Instincts, and the Fate of Russian Imperial Modernity,” in Born to Be Criminal. The Discourse on Criminality and the Practice of Punishment in Late Imperial Russia and Early Soviet Union, eds. Riccardo Nicolosi and Anne Hartmann (Blelefeld: Transkript Verlag,
2017), 31–62.

Human Sacrifice in the Name of a Nation: The Religion of Common Blood, in: Eugene Avrutin, Robert Weinberg (eds.): Ritual Murder in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Beyond: New Histories of an Old Accusation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017).

Between Scientific and Political: Jewish Scholars and Russian-Jewish Physical Anthropology in the Fin-de-Siècle Russian Empire, in: Jeffrey Veidlinger (ed.): Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016), S. 45-63.

“Beyond, Against, and With Ethnography: Physical Anthropology as a Science of Russian Modernity,” in An Empire of Others. Creating Ethnographic Knowledge in Imperial Russia and the USSR, eds. Roland Cvetkovski and Alexis Hofmeister (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2013), 81–120.

With Ilya Gerasimov and Alexander Semyonov, “Russian Sociology in Imperial Context,” in Sociology and Empire, ed. George Steinmetz (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013), 53−82.

“Doing Anthropology in Russian Military Uniform,” in Doing Anthropology in Wartime and War Zones: World War I and the Cultural Sciences in Europe, eds. Reinhard Johler, Christian Marchetti, and Monique Scheer (Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2010), 47−74.

“Russian Imperial Contexts of the Search for the ‘Jewish Race,’” in Imperial Victims–Empires as Victims: 44 Views, ed. Andrzej Nowak (Warsaw: Institute of History, PAN, 2010), 130−137.

With Ilya Gerasimov, Sergey Glebov, Jan Kusber, Alexander Semyonov, “New Imperial History and the Challenges of Empire,” in Empire Speaks Out: Languages of Rationalization and Self-Description in the Russian Empire, ed. Ilya Gerasimov et al. (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 3−32.

“Russian Physical Anthropology of the Nineteenth–Early Twentieth Centuries: Imperial Race, Colonial Other, Degenerate Types, and the Russian Racial Body,” in Empire Speaks Out: Languages of Rationalization and Self-Description in the Russian Empire, ed. Ilya Gerasimov et al., 155–189 (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 155−189.

“The Most European Science in Russia: Defining Empire Anthropologically,” in Making a Discipline of Slavic Eurasian Studies: Meso-Areas and Globalization (Hokkaido, Sapporo, 2005), 285−310.

“ARA Relief Campaign in the Volga Region, Jewish Anthropometric Statistics, and the Scientific Promise of Integration,” Science in Context, 2018 accepted after reviews

Racial Psychiatry and the Russian Imperial Dilemma of the “Savage Within,” East Central Europe 43 (2016): 99–133.

With Ilya Gerasimov and Sergey Glebov, “Hybridity: Marrism and the Problems of Language of the Imperial Situation,” Ab Imperio 17, no. 1 (May 2016): 1–39.

With Ilya Gerasimov, “Deconstructing Integration: Ukraine’s Postcolonial Subjectivity,” Slavic Review 74, no. 4 (winter 2015): 715–722.

“New Imperial History: Post-Soviet Historiography in Search of a New Paradigm for the History of Empire and Nationalism,” Revue d'études comparatives Est-Ouest 45, no. 2 (2014): 25−67.

“Toward a History of Russian-Jewish ‘Medical Materialism’: Russian-Jewish Physicians and the Politics of Jewish Biological Normalization,” Jewish Social Studies 19, no. 1 (2012): 70−106.

“Russian Physical Anthropology in Search for ‘Imperial Race’: Liberalism and Modern Scientific Imagination in the Imperial Situation,”Ab Imperio 8, no. 1 (2007): 191–223.

To see more of her impressive work, including books in Russian and other languages, edited volumes, non-refereed articles and chapters, book reviews and manuscripts, please visit her website listed above.