News: HPRS is hiring!

The Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan invites applications for an open-rank faculty position in pre-modern Asian studies. The period and specialization are open, but preference will be given to candidates specializing in the history and/or religious and philosophical traditions of China and Inner Asia before 1644.

Successful senior applicants will be expected to have a demonstrated track record of excellence in teaching, research, and service. Applicants at the junior level will be expected to demonstrate potential for excellence in all three areas. Responsibilities include but are not limited to teaching classes (teaching load is 2+2 with TA support for large classes), curriculum and program development, and research. The position is available from August 2018. Contracts are for a period of three years and are renewable upon a positive review.

Nazarbayev University was launched in 2010 as a premier national and regional university, partnered with some of the most internationally-recognized names in Higher Education. The strategic partner of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences is the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Admission to NU is highly competitive and the students are the most academically gifted in Kazakhstan. Most students participate in the NU foundation year program, and thus enter the School of Humanities and Social Sciences with extensive English language training and academic preparation. SHSS programs emphasize student-oriented learning, with small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio of about 12:1. All classes are taught in English.

The History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies department includes 15 members and offers a major in History and minors in History and Philosophy/Religious Studies. All of its members publish actively.

Nazarbayev University offers an attractive benefits package, including:

  • competitive compensation;
  • housing based on family size and rank;
  • relocation allowance;
  • air tickets to the home country, twice per year;
  • no-cost medical insurance, with wide geographical coverage;
  • educational allowance for children.

NU values diversity and strongly encourages applications from women and other underrepresented minorities.

To apply, please send a letter of interest, current c.v., contact information of three referees, teaching evaluations, and a writing sample to by November 5, 2017. More information about the school is available at Questions related to the position, the university, or living and working in Astana can be sent to Nikolay Tsyrempilov, search committee chair (


Upcoming Conference: “On the Periphery of Collapsing Empire: National Minorities and the 1917 Revolution”

The Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nazarbayev University, is happy to announce that they will be hosting a conference marking the 100-year anniversary of the February and October Revolutions of 1917, entitled “On the Periphery of Collapsing Empire: National Minorities and the 1917 Revolution”. The conference aims to move beyond the boundaries of the nationalist historiographies of Post-Soviet States and to devote attention to questions that have thus far been undeservedly ignored, such as the cooperation of autonomous governments of the various regions of the empire, governmental projects and ideological discourses, national and religious movements and their participants during the transitional periods of the Revolution and Civil War on the ‘national periphery’. Particular attention will be devoted to the questions of everyday violence and moral responsibility for transgressions, problems of collective memory, national myths, and the legacy of events a century old. Participants in the conference will discuss the history of revolutionary events on the Kazakh steppe, in the Volga-Ural region, the Caucasus, Siberia, and the Russian Far East. The political responses of Muslims, Orthodox Christians, and Buddhists to the political crisis will also receive substantial attention.

Scholars from Kazakhstan’s leading research institutes and universities will take part in the conference, alongside academics from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and St Petersburg, Institute of Russian History of Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of History of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Heidelburg University, the University of Oxford, Harvard University, and others.

The keynote lectures will be given by Professor Zhuldyzbek Abylkhozhin of the Choqan Valikhanov Institute for History and Anthropology, Professor Jeremy Smith of the University of Eastern Finland, Professor Svetlana Koval’skaia of Lev Gumilyov Eurasian National University, and Professor Niccolo Pianciola of Lingnan University (Hong Kong).

This conference was organised in cooperation with the Lev Gumilyov Eurasian National University, and Evney Buketov Karaganda State University.

The opening reception, and all panels, will take place in the Senate Hall in Block C1 of Nazarbayev University (53 Kabanbay Batyr Avenue, Astana).

If you would like to attend the conference, please email by November 2. It is essential to register ahead of time, as access to the campus is only possible with a pass. Please click here for the conference programme. We will be glad to see you!


News: Meet the New Faculty: Dr. Anna Graber


Dr. Anna Graber is a historian of modern and early modern Russia specializing in the scientific culture of the Russian Enlightenment.  She received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University in December 2016.  Before coming to NU, Dr. Graber was a Davis Center Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University.  In addition to her affiliation with NU, Dr. Graber is a Research Fellow at the Laboratory for Primary Source Studies at Ural Federal University in Ekaterinburg, Russia and a Davis Center Associate.  Anna Graber’s work examines the science and technology of the Russian mining industry in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.  During this period, Russia went from being a net importer of metals to Eurasia’s leading producer of iron, copper, and silver.  Using sources including factory records, scientific correspondence, mineral catalogues, maps, folk tales, and metallurgical treatises, Dr. Graber investigates the creation and circulation of mining knowledge across Eurasia from German mining centers to Eastern Siberia.  In the book manuscript she is preparing for publication, Tsardom of Rock: Science, Society, and Enlightenment in the Russian Mining Industry, Dr. Graber situates mineralogical study and mining activity in the context of Enlightened reform.  She argues that mines in the Urals and Siberia served as laboratories where wealthy mine owners and state mining officials tested new methods of knowing and governing the Russian Empire.

Dr. Graber says, “I chose to come to NU for the opportunity to experiment and grow as a scholar and teacher.  Already early in the semester I’ve found great satisfaction in working closely with the excellent, engaged students in my seminars.  It’s been a fascinating pedagogical experience to teach Kazakh and Russian history in the former Soviet Union — students have a range of background knowledge and strongly held opinions that I can’t always predict, and it’s been rewarding to work through primary sources with students that sometimes support, and often challenge, what they thought they knew.  I’ve found an intellectual home among my colleagues in our department, especially with so many fellow Russianists around, and I’ve already enjoyed some great conversations.  I really appreciate the energy of this new university, and I’m excited for what I can accomplish here.”

For the fall semester 2017 Dr. Graber is teaching HST 100: History of Kazakhstan and HST 327: Global Cold War.

Welcome to NU Dr. Graber!

News: Meet the New Faculty: Dr. Rozaliya Garipova


Rozaliya Garipova’s research and teaching focus on the Islamic history of Russia, Central Eurasia and the larger Muslim world. She is particularly interested in exploring issues of religious authority, Islamic law and women and gender in Islam as well as the interaction between Islamic law and empire. Rozaliya received her Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. She held a number of prestigious fellowships, such as Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship at the Department of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania, membership at the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton and James Billington fellowship at Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center, at Washington DC. Her articles have appeared in The Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, Islamic Law and Society, Die Welt Des Islams, Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law. Rozaliya’s current book project is a religious history of Muslim family life in the Volga-Urals and Western Siberia.

Dr. Garipova says, “I am very excited to come to Nazarbayev University and there are many reasons for that. Before travelling to Kazakhstan I finally decided to read a memoir – which was on my to-read-list for a long time – of a Tatar woman who vividly depicted her life in Jarkent, Almaty, Qulja and other Central Asian cities between the 1890s and the 1920s. I felt a strong desire to repeat this route and learn more about the peoples I am teaching about. I was long fascinated with Islamic history but teaching it and researching on it here gives a special pleasure – the students are smart and there is a fascinating group of scholars who are working on the religious (and other) history of Central Eurasia. I am very glad to be in a team, something that is not always easy to find in other universities. As a team, there are great opportunities to work together on teaching the History of Kazakhstan, on developing an MA Program in Eurasian Studies, as well as organizing workshops and collective research projects.”

For the fall 2017 semester Dr. Garipova is teaching HST 100: History of Kazakhstan and HST/REL 329: Women in Islamic History.

Welcome to NU Dr. Garipova!

News: Meet the New Faculty: Dr. Curtis Murphy


Curtis Murphy received his Ph.D. from Georgetown University with a focus on East Central Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His research focuses on the east European Enlightenment, interfaith and multinational cohabitation in imperial contexts, urban history, and identity in the premodern world. Professor Murphy’s forthcoming book, From Citizens to Subjects: City and State in Poland, Ukraine and Belarus at the Onset of the Modern Age explores the experience of urban residents in cities of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the eighteenth century through the Great Reforms. Professor Murphy had also published articles in Slavic Review and Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, and he is working on an article about a blood libel trial in an eighteenth century private town, which highlights the unexpected weight of legalism and litigation in a feudal setting. His next project will focus on cosmopolitan identity and imperial service in nineteenth century Eurasia. Prior to teaching at Nazarbayev University, Professor Murphy taught at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Colby College and Georgetown University.

Dr. Murphy says, “Prior to my arrival in Kazakhstan this August, I had lived and travelled extensively in Eastern Europe and Russia, but I had never had an opportunity to visit Central Asia. Most of my research focuses on the western periphery of the former Russian Empire, particularly Poland and Ukraine, and I was intrigued by possible parallels in colonial policies and imperial legacies between my own area of expertise and this region. I also chose to come to Nazarbayev University because I was excited about the prospect of not only teaching and researching History, but also participating in a genuine, history-making endeavor. Building up an institution is not really possible in the United States or much of Europe, and I hope that here I can help create something that will be of lasting significance for the whole region. As a specialist in urban history, I also very much wanted to observe a purpose-built capital in-the-making, as only a few such cities exist in the world.”

For the fall 2017 semester Dr. Murphy is teaching HST 131: European History I and HST 335: European Nationalisms.

Welcome to NU Dr. Murphy!


News: Meet the New Faculty: Dr. Clare Griffin


Dr. Clare Griffin is a historian of science with interests in practical knowledge, commodity exchange, and translation in the early modern global world. She was awarded her PhD from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, for a dissertation on translation and medical knowledge exchange at the seventeenth-century Russian palace. Prior to joining NU, she held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and was a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. Clare is also editor of H-EarlySlavic, an academic discussion list concerned with pre-modern Eastern European history.

Dr. Griffin says, “As a historian, I am very interested in old things. But I am also fascinated by new things: going new places, meeting new people, having new experiences. I have lived and worked in a lot of old places – London, Cambridge, Berlin, Moscow – so to come to Astana, with all its shiny new buildings, and to NU, itself very new by the standards of universities, was for me too good an opportunity to pass up. To be here for the early stages of building an institution is a great challenge. I also confess to being a language nerd, so living in the open air Russian-Kazakh phrasebook that is Astana is fascinating and fun. And hey, NU also took us new staff to an Ethno Auyl, and I held an eagle! I am very excited to be here right now, and to see what happens next.”

For the fall 2017 semester Dr. Griffin will be teaching HST 123: Introduction to the History of Science and Technology and HST 240: Representations of Nature in the Early Modern World.

Welcome to NU Dr. Griffin!

News: Forêt organised two conferences on Smart Cities with ZHAW


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Towards a smart and sustainable Astana

Philippe Forêt participated in the organization of two international conferences related to Expo 2017, on June 11-14 and on June 12-15. The two leading institutions that joined us for these events were Nazarbayev University and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Swissnex and swissuniversities provided the financial support needed for all our participants. “Towards Smart Sustainable Cities” was the title we chose for our seminar at Nazarbayev University, which followed a parallel session we held at the Ministerial Conference & the 8th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development.

The delegation from Zurich, Berne, Lucerne, and Lugano had exchanges with the professors and students of the School of Engineering of NU, with who they discussed smart governance, smart energy systems, smart buildings, smart transportation, and finally smart waste and water management. We believe that the challenges of the 21st century can be addressed at the city level. Cities can promote techniques for energy transition and educate their populations about mobility, efficiency, and recycling. The concept of Smart Cities results in new opportunities for intelligent networking. Our integrated approaches have proposed solutions for the knowledge society, and addressed the conditions needed for better life quality, public involvement, and resource consumption. Philippe Forêt and Andrey Filchenko (LLL) gave lectures on the governance of strategic metals and on the discourse held on energy.

On these topics, historians may enjoy titles like Daniel A. Barber’s new Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold war (Oxford University Press, 2016), and Richard W. Unger, ed. Energy Transition in History : Global Cases of Continuity and Change (Rachel Carson Center Perspectives, 2013). The involvement of HPRS in these emerging areas for interdisciplinary research is in response to invitations made by government ministries, public research agencies, and private corporations that seek the views of humanists and social scientists on pressing concerns and global issues. The announcements made at the two conferences have been followed by a roundtable and meetings on bilateral cooperation with Switzerland, and by invitations to join ministerial discussions on the creation in Astana of a United Nations center on green energy :

More information and the presentations held on the days of the conference can now be found online on the conferences’ official website:

Job: Assistant Professor of History, fixed term.


The Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan invites applications for a fixed term position as Assistant Professor of History.

We plan to employ someone either for an academic year (September 2017 to July 2018) or for an initial period of four months (from September 2017), with the possibility of an extension for another seven months (January to July 2018).

The department is especially interested in candidates with teaching competence in one of the following fields:

  • the History of Kazakhstan
  • 20th Century European History or Post-1945 World History
  • History, Philosophy, and Religion in Imperial China

The complete ad for this post can be found here and in other venues.

The deadline is 14 July 2017.


Publication: Morrison on the second Anglo-Afghan war


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Monument to the Jamskii Otriad (Jam, Uzbekistan).

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new article by our colleague Dr Alexander Morrison:

‘Beyond the ‘Great Game’: The Russian origins of the second Anglo–Afghan War’

Modern Asian Studies Vol.51 No.3 (May 2017) pp.686-735 (

This paper was originally presented during the SHSS Seminar Series 2014-2015 (link).


Drawing on published documents and research in Russian, Uzbek, British and Indian archives, this article explains how a hasty attempt by Russia to put pressure on the British in Central Asia unintentionally triggered the second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878-80. This conflict is usually interpreted within the framework of the so-called ‘Great Game’, which assumes that only the European ‘Great Powers’ had any agency in Central Asia, pursuing a coherent strategy with a clearly-defined set of goals and mutually-understood rules. The outbreak of the Second Anglo-Afghan war is usually seen as a deliberate attempt by the Russians to embroil the British disastrously in Afghan affairs, leading to the eventual installation of ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan, hosted for many years by the Russians in Samarkand, on the Afghan throne. In fact the Russians did not foresee any of this. ‘Abd al-Rahman’s ascent to the Afghan throne owed nothing to Russian support, and everything to British desperation. What at first seems like a classic ‘Great Game’ episode was a tale of blundering and unintended consequences on both sides. Central Asian rulers were not merely passive bystanders who provided a picturesque backdrop for Anglo-Russian relations, but important actors in their own right.

Why major in History? Adina’s view




Click on the image to start the video.


Are you undeclared and considering a major or a double-major in History? Are you coming to NU and looking for your place in it? Are you curious about History in general?

Our former student Adina Tulegenova (graduating class of 2016) has shared a video where she explains why all students should seriously consider majoring in History, and why she liked her experience.

Adina is now an MA student in Comparative History at Central European University in Budapest, where she was admitted with a full scholarship.