Ronald Grigor Suny
FIELD SPECIALTIES Russian empire and imperialism, historiography and methodology of studying social and cultural history.
RONALD GRIGOR SUNY is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. The grandson of the composer and ethnomusicologist Grikor Mirzoyan Suni and a graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University, he taught at Oberlin College (1968-1981), as visiting professor of history at the University of California, Irvine (1987), and Stanford University (1995-1996). He was the first holder of the Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern Armenian History at the University of Michigan (1981-1995), where he founded and directed the Armenian Studies Program. He is the author of The Baku Commune, 1917-1918: Class and Nationality in the Russian Revolution (Princeton University Press, 1972); Armenia in the Twentieth Century (Scholars Press, 1983); The Making of the Georgian Nation (Indiana University Press, 1988, 1994); Looking Toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History (Indiana University Press, 1993); The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Stanford University Press, 1993); and The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States (Oxford University Press, 1998). He is also the editor of Transcaucasia, Nationalism and Social Change: Essays in the History of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia (Michigan Slavic Publications, 1983; University of Michigan Press, 1996)) and The Structure of Soviet History: Essays and Documents (Oxford University Press, 2003); and co-editor of Party, State, and Society in the Russian Civil War: Explorations in Social History (Indiana University Press, 1989); The Russian Revolution and Bolshevik Victory: Visions and Revisions (D. C. Heath, 1990); Making Workers Soviet: Power, Culture, and Identity (Cornell University Press, 1994); Becoming National (Oxford University Press, 1996); Intellectuals and the Articulation of the Nation (University of Michigan Press, 1999); and A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin (Oxford University Press, 2001). He is currently working on a study of the young Stalin and the formation of the Soviet Union and a series of essays on empire and nations.
Professor Suny has served as chairman of the Society for Armenian Studies and on the editorial boards of Slavic Review, International Labor and Working-Class History, International Journal of Middle East Studies, The Armenian Review, Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies, and Armenian Forum, and is a contributing editor to Armenian International Magazine. He has appeared numerous times on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour, CBS Evening News, CNN, and National Public Radio, and has written for the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, New Left Review, Dissent, and other newspapers and journals. He is married to pianist Armena Marderosian and has two daughters, Sevan and Anoush Suni.
Professor Suny’s intellectual interests have centered on the non-Russian nationalities of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, particularly those of the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia). The “national question” was an area of study that was woefully neglected for many decades until peoples of the periphery mobilized themselves in the Gorbachev years. His aim has been to consider the history of imperial Russia and the USSR without leaving out the non-Russian half of the population, to see how multinationality, processes of imperialism and nation-making shaped the state and society of that vast country. This in turn has led to work on the nature of empires and nations, studies in the historiography and methodology of studying social and cultural history, and a commitment to bridging the often-unbridgeable gap between the traditional concerns of historians and the methods and models of other social scientists.