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. I am especially interested in studying processes through which individuals and groups create new forms of knowledge and communicate it, as well as in how that knowledge spreads, morphs, and influences others' decisions.

My dissertation considers these processes of knowledge formation, communication, and 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. For example, I analyze the indemnities that the Russian government paid to foreign merchants after seizing their property during the Napoleonic Wars. I also examine the discovery of platinum in Russia in the 1820s and the attendant aspirations for developing mining industries and introducing currency reform. I also trace 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, even as they pursued different and occasionally conflicting agendas. I also investigate the diplomatic work that Russian scholars engaged in to internationalize the metric system. 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, 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; population management; political economy; metrology

CV (file)