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David Engerman, assistant professor of history at Brandeis University, studies twentieth-century American history, especially its international and intellectual aspects. His first book, Modernization from the Other Shore (Harvard University Press, 2003), demonstrates the centrality of both racial categories and economic development in American ideas about late imperial and early Soviet Russia.
Engerman's new project also examines American ideas about Russia and the Soviet Union, but in a much different intellectual and institutional context. He will show how the emergence of a new scholarly endeavor—Soviet studies—shaped intellectual life and international history during the Cold War. Analyses of the USSR generated many of the key concepts of postwar Western intellectual life. Not just “totalitarianism,” but also modernization, development, industrial society, and ideology have important roots in studies of the USSR. He will start with the first interdisciplinary group of scholars studying Russia—a component of America’s World War II intelligence agency—and continue through the demise of the Soviet Union to contemporary analyses of Russia.
Trained in both American and Russian history, Engerman received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998, after first earning an MA from Rutgers University. He has received fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Kennan Institute, the Charles Warren Center at Harvard, and other organizations.