Samuel Finkelman

I am a Ph.D. Candidate specializing in Jewish history in the post-Stalin Soviet Union. In June 2020, I passed my General Examinations with distinction in Modern Russian and Soviet History, 1689-1991 (Peter Holquist and Benjamin Nathans); Modern Jewish History (Beth Wenger); and Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century European Political Thought (Warren Breckman). 

My dissertation--tentatively titled "Ghetto, Gulag, Geulah: The Soviet Jewish Movement’s Russian and Ukrainian Encounters, 1953-1985"--explores how Jewish national activists’ triangular encounter with Russian and Ukrainian nationalists influenced grassroots Jewish national activity in the post-Stalin USSR. The project focuses on how members of these three national movements similarly mobilized and contested the memory of recent political catastrophes—particularly Stalinist terror and the Nazi occupation—to creatively construct new iterations of nationhood. Contextualizing Jewish national activity within the broader wave of national consciousness that swept the Soviet Union in the post-Stalin period, I analyze the tensions, affinities, and entanglements among Jewish, Russian, and Ukrainian efforts to marshal the memory of past catastrophe in the service of future national redemption, or what Jews call in Hebrew geulah.

Before embarking on this project, I researched trials against former Jewish functionaries in Nazi camps and ghettos in Lithuania, prosecuted in the postwar USSR for crimes of collaboration. I have presented scholarly work at Yad Vashem; the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; the annual convention of 
The Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies; and the World Congress of the International Council for Central and East European Studies. A recipient of the Stephen F. Cohen-Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship, I am spending the current academic year conducting archival research for my dissertation in Russia and Ukraine. 

Research languages: Russian, Ukrainian, Hebrew 

Advisor: Benjamin Nathans 


M.A. - History - University of Pennsylvania (2020) 
M.A. - East European Studies - Universiteit van Amsterdam (2016)
B.A. - International and Global Studies - Middlebury College (2014)

Research Interests

The Soviet-Jewish experience; nations and nationalisms in the USSR; dissidence and sedition in the USSR; transitional justice, Holocaust memory, and the collective memory of catastrophe in the postwar Soviet Union. 

Courses Taught

History 421 European International Relations Since 1914 (Spring 2021; W. McDougall)                    

History 177
Afro-American History, 1876-present (Spring 2020; M. Bay)     

History 134The Origins of Nazism: From Democracy to Race War and Genocide, 1918-1945 (Fall 2019; A. Berg)                                                                     

History 141 Jews in the Modern World (Spring 2019; B. Wenger) 

History 135
The Cold War: A Global History, 1945-1991 (Fall 2018; B. Nathans)