Stephen Badalyan Riegg
Specialty: Imperial Russia, Armenia and the Caucasus, European empires
My research and teaching interests revolve around the histories of Imperial Russia and the Caucasus.
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 book project, “Westerners in the Tsar’s East: European Lives in Imperial Russia’s Caucasus,” explores how, and why, the Romanovs encouraged or encumbered the settlement of the empire’s strategically vital periphery by various Europeans. The study’s protagonists include Scottish missionaries, French silk barons, German agricultural settlers, British oil magnates, and Swiss evangelicals. To deepen our understanding of tsarist imperial methods, this study examines the often-conflicting Russian perceptions of “foreign” and “Western” life in what the state portrayed as one of its most prized “Eastern” borderlands. This work builds on the premise that Russians, Persians, and Ottomans were not the most prominent outsiders to seek glory, fortune, tranquility, or solitude in the Caucasus in the long nineteenth century.
My research has appeared in the journals The Russian Review, Ab Imperio, and Nationalities Papers. The Fulbright-Hays program, American Councils for International Education, Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, American Research Institute of the South Caucasus, and the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund have supported my work.