Melikian Faculty Affiliates

Pauline Komnenich
Ph.D., University of Arizona
Research Interests:
Community Health Care Delivery, Sociolinguistics
Ilene Lashinsky
Adjunct Faculty
J.D., Arizona State University College of Law
Research Interests:
Commercial law and insolvency law, particularly commercial law reform in Southeastern Europe
More information
Donald Livingston, Jr
Senior Lecturer
Ph.D., University of Washington
Research Interests:
Russian; Slavic Linguistics
Laurie Manchester
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Columbia University
Research Interests:
European Cultural History, Russia

Current research: 
Laurie Manchester, Associate Professor of History, is currently working on a book, From China to Russia: The Return of the “True” Russians. Her book focuses on the roughly 160,000 Russians, most of whom were from pious, monarchist families, who voluntarily repatriated to the Soviet Union between 1935-1960. Most were born in China to parents who fled Russia when the communists took over in 1917. Based in part on one hundred oral interviews the author conducted in seven Russian cities, this book is the first comprehensive study of voluntary return to a illiberal, impoverished, historical homeland. It challenges the dominant theories in migration studies that economic betterment, the desire to live under an ideology that protects individual freedom, or family reunification, motivate migration. Since the majority had no family members waiting for them in U.S.S.R., it was cultural preference and nationalism that motivated their repatriation. Most of the minority who repatriated during Stalin’s lifetime were arrested when they arrived in the Soviet Union. The majority who arrived after Stalin’s death were shocked by how much the colossal changes that occurred in the 1930s had changed the people. It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when repatriates were allowed for the first time to publish newsletters and organize themselves publicly, that they began to collectively articulate themselves as a distinct type of Russians. They saw themselves as more authentic because they had been raised outside of the Soviet Union in a diaspora which preserved traditions from pre-revolutionary Russia. And despite the hardships they suffered in the Soviet period and their feelings of estrangement from “local” Russians, most of those whose families were not repressed do not regret repatriating. This project sheds light on the plasticity of ethnicity and demonstrates how powerful the urge to live in a perceived homeland can be. Contemporary policy makers may imagine that the global population is ever ready to migrate, but the majority of people never consider migrating, and when refugees are forced to flee, most would welcome the opportunity to return home once it is safe to do so. Funds she received from the Melikian Center paid for part of her travel to Moscow in April 2018 to complete the archival research for a paper she is delivering at the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies in Boston this December, titled: “How a Novel about Russian Emigres in China was Published in Moscow in 1957, and what “Local” Soviets and Repatriates Thought about it.”


Michael Markiw
Assoc Librarian (FSC)
M.L.S., University of Western Ontario
Research Interests:
Slavic-area Bibliography
Martin Matustik
Ph.D., Fordham University
Research Interests:
Critical theory, Continental philosophy, phenomenology and existentialism to post-Holocaust and reparative ethics

Current research:  Prof. Matuštík has been awarded a Lady Davis Fellowship for 2018-19 from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.  For more about the Lady Davis Fellowship see:

Saule Moldabekova
Senior Lecturer
Ed.D., St. Petersburg Academy of Culture
Research Interests:
Russian language pedagogy
Aaron Moore
Associate Professor
PhD, Cornell University
Research Interests:
Empire, Comparative Colonialism, World War II, and War & Revolution
Robert Niebuhr
Honors Faculty Fellow
Ph.D., Boston College
Research Interests:
Modern Central and Eastern Europe: politics, diplomacy, global studies
Robert W. Oldani
Emeritus Professor
Ph.D., University of Michigan
Research Interests:
19th-C. Russian Music, Mussorgsky