Kimberly St. Julian Varnon

Headshot photo

Ph.D. Student

Penn Presidential PhD Fellow
Fontaine Fellow
Pomfret Fellow, 2020-2021

Website

Kimberly's work examines how Black experience in the Soviet Union shaped Black identity, and how the presence of people of color shaped ideas and understandings of race, ethnicity, and nationality policy in the Soviet Union, East Germany, and post-Soviet space. 

Her public writing analyzes the linkages between race, foreign policy, and culture in the United States, Russia, and Ukraine. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Moscow Times, and the Kennan Institute's Russia File. She has also become a regular commentator on Ukraine and Russia in American and international media outlets such as AP, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBC, and BBC.

 

Kimberly is an avid learner of languages and hopes to add B/C/S to her repertoire before she completes her doctoral studies.

For media inquiries, please contact her via her website. She is currently booking talks for Spring 2023.

Education

B.A. History, Swarthmore College, 2012

M.A. Regional Studies: Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, Harvard University, 2014

M.A. History, University of Pennsylvania, 2022

  • Teaching Assistant of the Year, 2022
  • NESEEES Graduate Essay Prize, 2022
  • REEEC Summer Research Laboratory Associate, 2022
Research Interests

Soviet nationality policy

Race and ethnicity in Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine, and East Germany

African and African Diasporic racial identity and experience in the USSR and East Germany

Contemporary Russo-Ukrainian relations

Courses Taught

Teaching Assistant: History of American Law since 1877 (Tani), World War I (Holquist), East Asian Diplomacy (Dickinson)

Selected Publications

"Ukraine's Story Can Find Listeners in Africa.Foreign Policy. August 2022.

"How I contribute to the Ukrainian War Effort." Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. August 2022. 

"Celebrity Attention on Ukraine." Inkstick Media. August 2022.

"Europe Can't Afford Vacillation on Ukraine." Foreign Policy. July 2022. 

"Ice Cream Diplomacy." Inkstick Media. February 2022.

Not Your Meme: Kazakhstan in the Western Imagination.” Lossi36. January 2022.

"Afro-Ukrainian Wrestler Zhan Beleniuk Won Olympic Gold but can't Escape Racism.First and Pen. August 2021.

"Andrea Lee's 'Russian Journal' A Tapestry of the Late Soviet Era." Kennan Institute's Russia File. February 2021. 

"The Ties That Bind: Black Lives Matter, Ukraine's Euromaidan, and the Realities of European Integration." Krytyka (Ukraine). June 2020. (also available in Ukrainian)

"The Curious Case of Russian Lives Matter." Foreign Policy.  July 11, 2020. 

"A Voice from the Slavic Studies Edge: On Being a Black Woman in the Field." ASEEES NEWSNET August 2020, vol. 60 no.4

"Yelena Khanga, Belonging, and Blackness in Russia." New York University Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia. November 6, 2020.

Affiliations

2022-2023 SASGov History Department Representative

Committee for the Advocacy of Diversity & Inclusion, Association for Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)

Communications Advisory Committee Member, Association for Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)

Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN)

Board of Directors, Graduate Student Representative (2021-2023), Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS)

Book Review Co-Editor, H-Net Ukraine

 

CV (file)