Melikian Faculty Affiliates

Neveser Koker
Barrett Honors College
Honors Faculty Fellow
Ph.D., University of Michigan
Research Interests:
Citizenship, inclusion and exclusion, politics of belonging, imperialism and colonialism, cosmopolitanism, transnational feminism(s), feminist political theory, 18th and 19th century political thought, comparative political theory

Current research: Neveser Köker, Honors Faculty Fellow at Barrett, the Honors College, is currently working on a book, Traveling Affinities: Politics of Belonging Beyond Nation and Empire. This book considers how imperial subjects and citizens made claims to political belonging in the period prior to the consolidation of nationalism as an ideology. Focusing on French and Ottoman texts produced between 1718 and 1905 that narrate movements across geographic, political, and cultural borders, Köker explores shifting dynamics of political identification and belonging that defy easy geopolitical narratives, either of long-standing confrontation between “East” and “West” or of cosmopolitan coexistence in “contact zones.” She argues that the relational and affective sensibility that characterizes belonging to a political community was cultivated and sustained through cross-cultural exchange: ideas and ideals of religion, geography, ethnicity, and most insistently, masculinity, femininity, and sexuality provided the terms of intelligibility through which imperial belonging was articulated, and imperial governance was defended and contested. She has presented a chapter of this project, “Civilizing Phantoms: Missionaries, Reformers, and the ‘Muslim Woman Question,’” at the annual American Political Science Association meeting in San Francisco, CA, August 31-September 3, 2017 and at the annual Association for Political Theory meeting in Ann Arbor, MI, October 12-14, 2017.

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
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Photo: Irina Levin
Irina Levin
Melikian Center
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D., New York University
Research Interests:
Former Soviet Union, the Caucasus, Turkey; migration, citizenship, law, sovereignty, nationalism, gender and sexuality, labor

Current research: Drawing on language proficiency in Russian, Turkish and Azerbaijani, and on extensive fieldwork with Meskhetian and Ahiska Turkish communities in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, Dr. Levin explores contemporary issues of disputed citizenship, legacies of displacement and trauma, and the particular social and political significance of identity documents, from the points of view of both states and individuals trying to establish and maintain security in precarious times.  

Read Dr. Levin's blog entry

Dr. Levin's Honors Eurasian Borderlands course - Fall 2018.

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.”

Professor Manchester shares about her research.

Michael Markiw
Assoc Librarian (FSC)
M.L.S., University of Western Ontario
Research Interests:
Slavic-area Bibliography

Current professional activity: Michael Markiw serves as an MLA International Bibliography field Indexer within the Slavic Section.  This assignment in cooperation with bibliographers at the New York Headquarters,  blends both research and national-level service by helping to provide access to the most recent scholarship in the fields of Slavic, East European and Eurasian languages and literature. The indexed articles are published in any of the 60 languages within the Bibliography.  At the highest levels of the Modern Languages Association it has been stated that this work is the equivalent of the kind of scholarly research and writing that goes into article production. While this work focuses on Slavic/East European Studies, Markiw also serves as Library Liaison for Arabic, French, German and Italian Studies. 

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, where he will be a visiting professor.  During the fellowship, he will be writing on the topic of memory and unforgiveness in the context of social and religious conflicts, and he will be teaching a graduate course on death and dying with a focus on interfaith and secular practices of mindfulness and care.  For more about the Lady Davis Fellowship see:

Saule Moldabekova
Senior Lecturer
Ed.D., St. Petersburg Academy of Culture
Research Interests:
Russian language pedagogy

Current professional activity: Saule Moldabekova, a senior lecturer of Russian in the School of International Letters and Cultures, served as a member of the U.S. Russia Expert Program Selection Committee from May 7 - May 16, 2018, in Washington, DC (IREX).  During the Melikian Center's Summer 2018 Critical Languages Institute (CLI), Moldabekova will serve as resident director/program director of the Russian program in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Aaron Moore
Aaron Moore
Associate Professor
PhD, Cornell University
Research Interests:
Empire, Comparative Colonialism, World War II, and War & Revolution

Current research: Aaron S. Moore, Associate Professor of History, is working on a book, Damming Asia: The Cold War and Japanese Post-Colonial Overseas Development.  Damming Asia examines the history of Japan’s overseas dam construction and the reconfiguration of the rural and urban in various Asian nations from the age of Japanese imperialism before 1945 to the post-war era when Japan became a global overseas development power within the US Cold War order in Asia. By analyzing representative dam projects, it examines how the influential Japanese post-1945 aid model of “comprehensive development” introduced new power dynamics rooted in the colonial past that transformed the rural and urban in Burma, South Vietnam, South Korea, and Indonesia. Viewing dams as “assemblages of power,” it untangles the web of complex relationships and networks that lend these structures durability and transformative power.