Research Projects

Current Programs

Imperiia Project

The purpose of the Imperiia Project is to promote the study of Russia's spatial history. To that end it aims to 1) make available to scholars and students a range of historical maps, databases related to demographics, cultural institutions, economic infrastructure and administration, 2) assist instructors in bringing interactive engagement with maps and geographical information into the history classroom, 3) encourage conversation and collaboration among researchers, instructors and students interested in the spatial history of the empire.

Kelly O'Neill, Project Director
Megan Duncan Smith, Project Manager 


Negotiation Task Force

The Davis Center Negotiation Task Force promotes innovative solutions to Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security challenges by creating spaces for cross-cultural negotiation research, training, and strategic analysis. We pioneer new models for high-impact knowledge dissemination, train practitioners in advanced negotiation skills, and build long-term conflict management capacity.

Arvid Bell, Program Leader


Program on Central Asia

The Program on Central Asia was established to strengthen research and teaching at Harvard on the history and current affairs of five Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It supports the study of the region using tools and insights from across the social sciences and humanities. Program activities include curriculum development and course offerings, research projects, public lectures and seminars, resource development, and facilitation of research by students and visiting scholars.

Alexandra Vacroux, Acting Program Director
Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow


Project on Cold War Studies

The Project on Cold War Studies was established in late 1997 as an sponsored research program within the Davis Center. The opening of archives in the former Soviet bloc has provided new opportunities for scholars to reassess and achieve a more sophisticated understanding of the Cold War. The Project seeks to take full advantage of these opportunities.

The Project’s Publications Program includes the peer-reviewed Journal of Cold War Studies, the Project on Cold War Studies Book Series, and special book projects. All three provide outlets for historians, political scientists, and other scholars who want to draw on newly available archival evidence. Some authors offer fresh historical accounts, whereas others use the new evidence to test key theories in political science and international relations. In addition to the Publications Program, the Project sponsors conferences and seminars, oversees a huge collection of photocopied and microfilmed archival materials, and maintains an extensive website with information about the project, detailed pages about the Cold War, dozens of links to related websites, and scanned images of declassified documents.

Mark Kramer, Program Director
Project on Cold War Studies website »

Project on Islam in Eurasia

The premise of the Project on Islam in Eurasia is that there are very important changes taking place in the social roles of Islam in Central Asia that will have important implications for the politics of the region, but which have not been adequately examined in the existing literature. The early post-Soviet years in most of the region were characterized by limited change, which largely had the character of newly open and celebrated expressions of the forms of Islam which had been sustained though constrained by the Soviet system. Beginning in the latter part of the 1990s, and even later in some regions, a more far-reaching trend towards a fundamental reorientation of society in relation to Islam began to be observed. This has taken many forms, and varies tremendously across the region. What is common to the trend overall is that Muslim believers all across Central Asian societies are beginning to reexamine the views about Islam that were held by believers during Soviet times, and are seeking, on the basis of these new visions of Islam, to take their societies in new directions.

The Project seeks to examine these trends, with two objectives. First, the Project strives to identify and promote original, empirically sound research on Islam in Central Asia. Second, the Project will help develop a network of Central Asian scholars who can effectively communicate their results to academics and policymakers in the United States.

The work of the Project on Islam in Eurasia is made possible with grant support from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Timothy J. Colton, Principal Investigator
Pauline Jones Luong, Project Consultant
Thomas W. Simons, Jr., Project Consultant
Alexandra Vacroux, Project Manager


Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry

The Project seeks to increase the knowledge and appreciation of the rich history and culture of Russian-speaking Jews by bringing together scholars and experts from around the world. The Project sponsors seminars, panels, symposia, public programs and related activities to promote and broaden the study of the history, culture, identity and legacy of the Jews of Russia and Eurasia. The Project encourages interdisciplinary inquiry on critical topics related to Russian and Eurasian Jewish identity and contributions. 

One of the Project’s principal arms is the Seminar on Russian and Eurasian Jewry

The Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry has been made possible with the generous support of Genesis Philanthropy Group.

Maxim D. Shrayer, Director of the Project
Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry website »


Working Group on the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations

The Working Group on the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of overcoming the lingering mistrust that dominates policy debate about the bilateral relationship in both countries. The group’s 20 members meet twice a year, alternating between Cambridge and Moscow. Each meeting is devoted to analysis of a single subject and the results are integrated into a paper coauthored by one American and one Russian. This unique, truly bilateral approach allows the Working Group to generate pathbreaking policy proposals that reflect the interests of both countries.

The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University is the U.S. anchor for the Working Group. On the Russian side, the partner institutions are the Higher School of Economics (School of World Economy and International Studies), and the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.

The activities of the Working Group have been made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, Open Society Foundations, the MacArthur Foundation, the Valdai International Discussion Club, and Mr. John Cogan.

Timothy J. Colton, Co-chair, U.S. Delegation
Working Group on the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations website »

Past Programs

Project on the Russian-Speaking Jewish Diaspora

Almost two million Russian-speaking people, most of them Jews, live outside the former Soviet Union (FSU). These migrants are the largest group to enter Israel since its founding, and are the largest immigrant group in the last century to settle in the United States and in Germany, respectively. This latest Russian-speaking Jewish migration has had a profound impact both on the receiving countries, namely the United States, Israel, and Germany, as well as on the sending countries, the FSU, especially Russia. Now that the migration has essentially ended, it is time to take stock of how this movement has changed these societies in general, and their Jewish communities in particular.

The Project will address these complex issues comprehensively and comparatively at a Conference on the Contemporary Russian-Speaking Jewish Diaspora in November 2011. We seek to achieve four goals: (1) to gain a more nuanced understanding of how migrations affect not only the immigrants, but also the countries which lose them and those which become their new home; (2) to explore how this migration may cause scholars to refine the concepts of diaspora and ethnic identity; (3) to spur new comparative scholarship; and (4) to inform community efforts that seek to provide valuable services to this immigrant community.

Lisbeth L. Tarlow, Project Director