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Grachova, Sofiya

Research Fellow

University of Erfurt, Germany


Max Weber alumnus

Department of History and Civilization

Cohort(s): 2014/2015

Ph.D. Institution

Harvard University, United States


I am a historian particularly interested in the political ramifications of medicine and science in Russia and Eastern Europe. I conducted my PhD research at Harvard University, where I am scheduled to graduate in the autumn of 2014.
My dissertation explores the relationship between medical ethnography, imperial governance, and nationalism, focusing on debates about Jewish health in Russia, from the 1830s to 1917. I examine how citizenship was conceivable in the context of an empire that explicitly repudiated ideas of uniform rights traditionally associated with the concept of citizenship. I argue that in the Russian empire, citizenship was not so much a formal institution, but instead an informal and pervasive set of perceptions based on the idea of a civilizing process. My research has uncovered that Jewish health was constructed as an indicator of the alleged position of Jews in civilizational hierarchies, and therefore was deeply embedded in debates about Jewish civic rights. Jews were not merely passive recipients of these ideas, however. Rather, Russian-Jewish physicians adopted these presumptions and transformed them into programmes of national mobilization and communal reform.
While at the EUI I plan to turn my dissertation into a book and extend my analysis into the Bolshevik period. My teaching experience includes the history of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and historical methodology.
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