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EIHS Lecture: "Earthquakes on the Edge: Border Spaces and Empire Making Along the Eurasian Frontier"
University of Michigan
Abstract: Rise and fall ... and rise again. Urban, colonial, environmental, cultural, and personal stories come together in the seismic spaces of modern Central Asia. Starting with a major temblor in 1887, and spanning more than a century, a succession of earthquakes struck the population centers of an emerging tsarist, later Soviet, empire -- producing a stream of ostensibly unique events that can, nevertheless, be read collectively. Considering this succession of disasters through their extraordinary visual, archival, and material sources allows an unusual perspective on new registers of politics, finance, citizenship, and emotion that took shape here, and in some cases stretched far beyond the USSR -- even around the globe.
Biography: Douglas Northrop is a professor of history and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. A specialist on the modern history of Central Asia, Northrop earned his Ph.D. at Stanford and taught Soviet, Islamic, European, colonial, and world/global history at Pitzer College and the University of Georgia before coming to Michigan. He is particularly interested in teaching and writing about world history, environmental history, and the cultural aspects of modern colonialism. His first book, Veiled Empire, investigated Bolshevik attempts to remake and modernize Central Asian society by ending the seclusion of Muslim women. It won both the W. Bruce Lincoln Prize and the Heldt Prize. This EIHS lecture draws on his current research, using the lens of natural disaster to study the emergence of new social, spatial, and cultural forms across the borderlands of Central Asia.
Free and open to the public.
This lecture is part of the Thursday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.