Melikian Faculty Affiliates

Nancy Roberts
Emeritus Professor
Ph.D., Arizona State University
Research Interests:
Microeconomic Theory, Public Finance

Current academic activity: Nancy Roberts, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Economics of the W. P. Carey School of Business, was a participant in the Fulbright Specialist program in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Prishtina in the summer of 2018. The Faculty of Economics has applied for program accreditation conforming to the national legal requirements of the European Qualifications Framework for Higher Education. They are currently undergoing the accreditation process conducted by the Kosovo Accreditation Agency.  The thrust of her work was to help reorganize the programs within the Faculty of Economics with the goal to identify and eliminate overlap, develop new curriculum, and advance the teaching and learning process at the University of Prishtina.  She also spent a significant amount of time with them on the importance and creation of the syllabus.  With Associate Dean Driton Balaj, she also co-taught a public finance course at the Pristhina International Summer University.

Photo: Claudia Sadowski-Smith
Claudia Sadowski-Smith
PhD, University of Delaware
Research Interests:
Late 20th and 21st century multi-ethnic U.S. literatures, immigration studies, border studies, post-Soviet and East European Studies

Current research: Claudia Sadowski-Smith published her second monograph The New Immigrant Whiteness: Race, Neoliberalism, and Post-Soviet Migration to the United  States in March 2018 with New York University Press. The book examines representations of post-1980s migration from the former Soviet Union and successor nations in reality TV shows, interviews, memoirs, and fiction. It highlights the internal ethnic and legal diversity of the diaspora and places it into larger discussions about the racialization of contemporary US immigrants. The New Immigrant Whiteness shows that their differential legal status on arrival––as participants in refugee, marriage, labor, and adoptive migration–– impacts post-Soviet immigrants’ encounters with socioeconomic inequalities and tightened immigration restrictions, as well as their attempts to construct transnational identities, even as this group is collectively associated with idealized accounts of the assimilation and upward mobility of early twentieth-century arrivals from Europe. The book examines how their perceived whiteness exposes post-Soviet family migrants to heightened expectations of assimilation, explores undocumented migration from the former Soviet Union, analyzes post-USSR immigrants’ attitudes toward anti-immigration laws that target Latina/os, and considers similarities between post-Soviet and Asian immigrants in their association with notions of upward immigrant mobility.

In addition, Sadowski-Smith is completing a co-edited special issue of Twentieth Century Literature, which theorizes cultural representations of US immigrant authors from the former USSR and Yugoslavia as well as Romania and Bulgaria as “postsocialist US literature.”

Peter Schmelz
Associate Professor
PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Research Interests:
Popular music and popular culture (in both the US and Eastern Europe), music and the Cold War, and music and politics more broadly, as well as music and film, and sound studies.

Current research: Peter J. Schmelz, associate professor of musicology at Arizona State University, is currently completing two book manuscripts: Alfred Schnittke: Concerto Grosso no. 1 (Oxford, forthcoming 2019) and Sonic Overload: Polystylism as Cultural Practice in the Late USSR, focused on the music of Alfred Schnittke and Valentin Silvestrov. He is also at work on two other books, the first called Intimate Histories of the Musical Cold War, detailing unofficial musical exchanges during the 1960s between the Ukraine SSR, Russian SSR, and West Germany. The second is Some Combinations of Freedoms and Passions: Soviet Experimental Music in the 1980s and explores the music of the Ganelin Trio, Sergey Kuryokhin and Pop Mekhanika, Valentina Ponomareva, and Auktsyon. Schmelz has conducted research in Kyiv with funding from the Melikian Center.

Read Professor Schmelz's blog entry.

Professor Schmelz's Russian Music course - Fall 2018.

John Duncan Shaeffer
Principal Lecturer and Undergraduate Advisor
Ph.D., Arizona State University
Research Interests:
Regional geography, including Russia and its surroundings; cultural and historical geography

Current academic and professional activity: J. Duncan Shaeffer, a principal instructor of geography, currently currently teaches the introductory World Geography course and numerous specialized regional geography courses, among others, the Geography of Russia and Surroundings and the Geography of Europe. The majority of his courses are taught in both the in-person and online formats. In the future, he will teach even more specialized regional geography courses. 

Bill Silcock
Associate Professor
PhD, University of Missouri
Research Interests:
Media ethics, leadership, journalism education, TV documentaries and social media
Iveta Silova
Professor and Director of the Center for the Advanced Studies in Global Education
PhD, Columbia University
Research Interests:
Globalization, Democratization, and Policy ‘Borrowing’ in Education

Current research: Iveta Silova is working on a project, which focuses on the memories of socialist childhood. The research project brings together cultural insiders who were brought up and educated on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain - spanning from Central Europe to mainland Asia - enabling participants to explore their own experiences of Soviet/socialist education and childhood by analyzing lived experiences, memories, and artifacts of socialist childhood and schooling. The goal is to make visible to ourselves as researchers how we have mastered (and been mastered by) particular theories and understandings of (post)socialist transition, education, and childhood. Our memories offer insights into the manifold nature of childhoods that cannot be simply reduced to an ideological oppression exercised through socialist state control or official school curriculum and pedagogy. Rather, these evocative memory stories illuminate the diverse spaces of childhoods interweaving with broader political, economic, and social life. They also highlight the multiple ways of becoming and being children in historical contexts that are far more ambiguous than previously acknowledged. Drawing on the research traditions of autobiography, autoethnography, and collective biography, we challenge what is often considered “normal” and “natural” in the historical accounts of socialist childhoods and engage in (re)writing histories that rub against traditional imaginaries of Cold War divisions between the East and West.

Danko Sipka
Ph.D., University of Belgrade, Ph.D., Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
Research Interests:
Linguistics, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Polish

Current research: Danko Sipka is working on a cross-disciplinarbook project titled From Society to Lexicography and Back: Slavic monolingual dictionaries as ideological maneuvers. His project concentrates on monolingual dictionaries as ideological maneuvers at the times of accelerated and condensed history. He will concentrate mostly on Romanticism (especially the aftermath of the Decembrist Revolt and the events around the Revolutions of 1848), Modernism (in particular in the aftermath of the October Revolution), and Postmodernism (most notably the period following the liberal revolutions of 1989). The present projects stem from Sipka's book titled Lexical Conflict: Theory and practice (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and the ensuing recently completed book project Lexical Layers of Cultural Identity (under a publication contract with Cambridge University Press). The latter monograph uses the material from Slavic languages to demonstrate that cultural identity of its speakers is shaped in three distinct lexical layers: deep (mostly in inherited lexicon), exchange (through lexical borrowing) and surface (in lexical engineering and refereeing). Monolingual dictionaries are front and center in the latter layer, which makes the present research projects narrowing down their focus on an important area of the field studied in the previous two monographs. Dictionaries are generally considered dull lists of words. Quite conversely, Sipka considers them rich depositories of socio-political and cultural practices and he sees them as entities that have agency on their own in their wider sociocultural context. The present book project strives to elucidate the mechanisms of societal influence on the dictionaries and the ways dictionaries contribute to shaping societies in Slavic cultures.  He will hold invited lectures on the topic of the recently completed monograph in Belgrade, Novi Sad, and Poznań (in June 2018), and conference papers in Montana (May 2018) and Ohrid (June 2018).

Professor Sipka shares about his research.

Professor Sipka's Language and Culture Clash course and History of Slavic Languages - Fall 2018.

David Siroky
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Duke University
Research Interests:
Ethnic conflict and civil war dynamics; Institutional change and political instability; causal inference and statistical methodology

Current research: David Siroky, an associate professor of political science, is collaborating with his research partner at Charles University, Emil Souleimanov, on a book project called “Violence and Vengeance: The Dynamics of Irregular War in Chechnya”.  They recently completed an article, “Frankenstein in Grozny: vertical and horizontal cracks in the foundation of Kadyrov’s rule,” which has been accepted for publication in Asia Europe Journal, and involved training and collaborating with a Ph.D student at ASU in the School of Politics and Global Studies. Many scholars have suggested that organized violence in Chechnya has ended, and that Russia’s Chechenization policy and Ramzan Kadyrov’s presidency deserve the credit. They argue that Putin has created a Frankenstein-like ruler over whom he risks losing control. 

They have been working on two other articles as well. The first, “Collective Punishment, Kin Killing and Coercion in Asymmetric Warfare,” drawing on interviews with ex-insurgents and eyewitnesses of the Second Chechen War, explores the use of lethal violence against the relatives of insurgents as a counterinsurgency strategy.  

The second article is entitled, “Virtuous Violence and Haram Targeting among Jihadi Groups: Ethnographic Evidence from Dagestan.” Moving beyond ideology to more instrumental concerns, this paper advances and assesses six propositions about haram targeting.  

Henry Sivak
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Research Interests:
Politics of secession and self-determination, cultural globalization, and global cities.

Current research: Henry Sivak, lecturer in Global Studies, is in the early stages of a research project that focuses on urbanization and urban planning in Skopje, Macedonia, over the last 50 years. Cities are places where ideas about nation, nationalism, and identity are worked out 'on the ground'. The urban landscape and built environment offer ample opportunities for planners, architects, and politicians to anchor nationalist ideals in the body politic. At the same time, their efforts nurture forms of popular consciousness that do not always follow from what was initially intended. This research project traces the changes made to Skopje's urban landscape since the 1963 earthquake and the shifting uses of urban space that followed from this event. It hopes to identify the relationship between popular nationalism and urban form in the Macedonian capital and to identify the relevance of Skopje's experience to Balkan cities more widely. It also connects to research on catastrophe in the social sciences and humanities, which examines how catastrophes reshape places and generate new ideas about the role and importance of cities and regions in political and cultural life.

Andrew Smith
Emeritus Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Research Interests:
Wildlife Biology, Eurasia