Stephen Badalyan Riegg
Specialty: Imperial Russia, Armenia and the Caucasus, European empires
My research and teaching interests include the histories of the Russian Empire, the Caucasus, and nationalism and imperialism in Eurasia.
In 2020, Cornell University Press will publish my book, Russia’s Entangled Embrace: The Tsarist Empire and The Armenians, 1801-1914. This study traces the relationship between the Romanov state and the Armenian diaspora that populated Russia’s territorial fringes and navigated the tsarist empire’s metropolitan centers. Analyzing the complexities of this imperial encounter—beyond the reductive question of whether Russia was a friend or foe to Armenians—allows us to study the methods of tsarist imperialism in the context of diasporic distribution, inter-imperial conflict and alliance, nationalism, and religious and economic identity. Engaging ongoing debates about imperial structures that were simultaneously symbiotic and hierarchically ordered, this book helps us to understand how, for Armenians and some other subjects, imperial rule represented not hypothetical, clear-cut alternatives but simultaneous, messy realities.
My next project, tentatively titled Westerners in the Tsar’s East: European Lives in Imperial Russia’s Caucasus, will analyze the triumphs and debacles of Western European communities settled in the Caucasus throughout the nineteenth century. The book will explore how, and why, the tsarist state encouraged, tolerated, scrutinized, or prohibited various “foreign” inhabitants of the empire’s often-tumultuous, yet strategically vital, periphery. The study’s protagonists include Scottish missionaries, French silk barons, German agricultural settlers, British oil magnates, Swiss evangelicals, and other adventurers.
I regularly, and eagerly, teach the following courses: Russian Civilization (HIST 210); Russian History to 1801 (HIST 410); Russian History 1801-1917 (HIST 411); and The Multiethnic Russian Empire (HIST 481, Senior Seminar).