Geoffrey Durham

Geoffrey Durham

Ph.D. Candidate

I study modern Russian and European history, particularly the Russian empire in the nineteenth century. My teaching interests include comparative empire (especially the history of the United States and Russia in the nineteenth century), the First World War and the interwar years, and the global Cold War. Broadly speaking, my research addresses questions related to state formation, political economy, the social history of ideas, and the history of science. My dissertation research has been supported by the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies' Cohen-Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship (2019-20) as well as several awards from the University of Pennsylvania.

My dissertation considers interrelated processes of knowledge formation, communication, and political influence through a study of conceptions of value in imperial Russia. Specifically, it focuses on how a variety of nineteenth-century tsarist subjects determined or assessed value in monetary and metrological terms. I investigate how officials within the military's General Staff, the ministries of finances and internal affairs, and scholars from the Academy of Sciences contributed to successive efforts to systematize and standardize the units of weight and measurement across the Russian empire. The diplomatic work that Russian scholars engaged in to internationalize the metric system and its connection to several initiatives for the global integration of commerce and science is another focus of my project. I also trace the discovery of platinum deposits in Russia and the transformation of this resource into an experimental monetary alternative to gold and silver. My dissertation thus attempts to recast the history of the Russian imperial state and its economic development in the long nineteenth century by disaggregating the administration's component parts, placing equal emphasis on the first half of the nineteenth century as on the second, and integrating Russia into its larger, Eurasian context.



M.A., Russian and East European Studies, Indiana University, 2016
B.A., History, Skidmore College, 2012

Research Interests

Modern Russian and Soviet history; the state; empire; political economy; history of science

CV (file)