Research Projects and Work in Progress



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Research Projects and Work in Progress

By opening the tabs below, you can explore the current research projects being undertaken by the members of ACREEH.

Russia's Great War and Revolution

This project aims to provide a comprehensive scholarly reappraisal of Russia's world-changing experience of war and revolution between 1914 and the early 1920s. Co-organised by Tony Heywood with Dr John Steinberg (Georgia Southern University), it involves a team of over 40 leading British, American, Russian and other historians, and is likely to have contributions from at least 200 scholars worldwide. We expect that it will be the foremost international scholarly project to mark the centenary of the 1917 Russian revolutions.

Contact: Tony Heywood

Patrick Gordon's Diary

The importance of Patrick Gordon’s diary for our understanding of late seventeenth-century Russia has long been recognised. N. G. Ustrialov wrote in 1858 that it ‘yields to no decree in its reliability’, while M. N. Tikhomirov made the comment in 1940 that for the reign of Peter the Great it is ‘a particularly outstanding source’. Yet there has never been a full edition in the original English. A nearly complete but unsatisfactory version was published in German in three volumes from 1849 to 1852. Passages from the diary mainly concerned with its author’s British connections and either transcribed from the original or translated back from Posselt’s translation were published by the Spalding Club in Aberdeen in 1859.

More recently, I. G. Tishin, director of the Military Historical Archive in which the manuscript is kept, declared in 1969 that ‘a full translation of the diary into Russian would help historians to use it more fully in the interests of learning’, while Professor S. Konovalov of Oxford University, who located and published some of Gordon’s other papers, expressed the hope in 1967 that ‘a co-ordinated effort, if necessary on an international scale’ would produce ‘a complete and reliable edition’ of the diary. Tishin’s wish is being realised by Dr. D. G. Fedosov of the Institute of General History, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Three volumes of a projected six have already been published, and a fourth is ready for publication. This translation is of high quality and accompanied by introduction and notes. The time is now ripe for the fulfilment of the hopes of Konovalov regarding the original English-language text.

The diary is in six volumes:

  • Volume 1, 1635-59. From early years in North-East Scotland to first military experience in Polish and Swedish service.
  • Volume 2, 1659-67. Entry into Russian service, and visit to London.
  • Volume 3, 1677-78. Service in Moscow, Defence of Chigirin
  • Volume 4, 1684-90. Visit to London, assistance to Peter in overthrow of Regent Sophia
  • Volume 5, 1690-95. Naval manoeuvres in White Sea, first siege of Azov
  • Volume 6, 1695-98. Second siege of Azov, suppression of revolt against Peter.

Two or more volumes, on the years 1667-76 and 1678-83, are missing.

The Polish-Lithuanian Union 1385 -1815

Political unions bring peoples together by institutionalising diversity. Yet historians have often regarded them with suspicion, since they complicate the supposedly simple process of the ‘rise of the nation state’. Although, in the age of devolution, Britons have become increasingly aware that the United Kingdom is a political union, there is less awareness that Britain’s experience is by no means unique: Unions were common in European history; some ephemeral, others more durable.

This project looks at a successful political union which lasted longer (to date) than the Anglo-Scottish Union, and was ended forcibly, without the consent of its citizens. Initiated as a loose dynastic union, by 1600 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had evolved into the most radically consensual political system in Europe, which sought to encompass religious, cultural and national diversity within a parliamentary system. Its initial success and ultimate failure reveal much about the possibilities and problems of political union.

This project has been supported by a British Academy/Woolfson Foundation Research Chair, (2009–2012). This enabled me to complete a monograph which is the first volume of a two-volume study of the union published by OUP in June 2015.

Contact: Robert Frost

The Photographs of lu.V. Lomonosov

Iurii Lomonosov (1876-1952), one of Russia's most important railway engineers, left a collection of some 6,000 photographic negatives and prints which is now preserved at the Leeds Russian Archive, University of Leeds. Most of the photographs were taken by Lomonosov between about 1902, when he acquired his first camera, and the early 1950s. Approximately two thirds of the collection relates to his life and work up to 1927, when he left Soviet government service and became, in effect, an exile in the West. In terms of images relating to Russian and Soviet railways this collection is one of the most important outside Russia, but it also includes several thousand non-railway images from Russia, Western Europe and North America.

This project involves sorting the negatives into a single coherent sequence, after which they will be digitally copied and made available for public use.

The digitisation process is being funded by a private donor who wishes to remain anonymous but whose support is very gratefully acknowledged here.

Contact: Tony Heywood

The German-Polish Borderlands in the Early Modern Period

Borders in the early modern period had a mobile quality, which was hardly compatible with modern enthusiasm for measuring and statistics. The borderline under scrutiny in this research project is between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire, more specifically between Wielkopolska, Pomerania and Neumark, and the border between Royal and Ducal Prussia, which has received relatively little attention for the period before the first partition of Poland in 1772. A mixture of languages, religions and national identities characterised these borders as a typical zone of fracture between German and Slavic cultures, which modern historians of the modern nation-state find unnecessarily messy and unstable.

Yet life on the Polish-Prussian border reflected more than a linear rise and decline of central statehood. Border societies adapted to different types of competition for resources, and reacted differently to attempts by the centre to impose a sovereign agenda, which frequently clashed with local needs and priorities. It is this history of conflict, but also of cohabitation and cooperation, which raises new questions and issues about local and regional decision-making, delegation and political autonomy, which are still relevant to life on the border today.

In future conferences and symposia, comparisons with other European border zones will be explored to contextualise this East Central European case study. A proposal for a research network, in cooperation with Polish and German colleagues, the invitation of visiting scholars, and possibly the creation of a post-doc position are part of the larger research plan.

Contact: Karin Friedrich

Performance Art in Eastern Europe

This project aims to produce the most comprehensive monograph to date on the development, manifestation and significance of performance, action and live art in the former communist and socialist countries of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe since 1960. The Principal Investigator, Amy Bryzgel, has been lecturer in History of Art at the University of Aberdeen since 2009. The project has received support from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2012, 2013), Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (2013), Leverhulme Trust (2014), and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2015).

Contact: Amy Bryzgel