People sections

Letter from the Chair

Eugene M. Avrutin

Associate Professor of History
Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

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Contact Info

Areas of Specialization

Modern European Jewish History


Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2004


Eugene M. Avrutin is Associate Professor of modern European Jewish history and Tobor family scholar in the Program of Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia (Cornell University Press, 2010). Avrutin has published articles on documentation practices, the concept of race, and religious toleration and neighborly coexistence in the East European borderlands. His new book, The Velizh Affair: The Story of Jews, Christians, and Murder in a Russian Border Town, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018. He is at work on two projects: a short book tentatively entitled Race in Modern Russia: Critical Perspectives, and a longer book on crime and criminality in the borderlands. His scholarship has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Modern Jewish History, Eastern Europe, Russian Empire

Research Description

  • Focusing primarily on the western territories of the Russian Empire, all of the research projects I have worked on reflect my scholarly interests in race and ethnicity, toleration and co-existence, legal culture, and the political dimensions of statecraft. Over the years, I have also worked on several collaborative projects: on visual culture and ethnography, gender and autobiography, human mobility, and ritual murder accusations. My work incorporates extensive archival materials, which until the breakup of the Soviet Union have not been available to researchers. As a result, I have spent quite a bit of time in archives in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Minsk, and Vilnius. As a teacher and scholar of East European Jewish history and culture, I incorporate much of what I write about in my courses on Jewish and European history, borderland violence and encounters, and legal culture.