Melissa Chakars, Ph.D.
Dr. Chakars specializes in Eurasian history with a focus on Russian Siberia. In particular, her work examines the lives of the Buryats, a Mongolian ethnic group that makes up Siberia’s largest indigenous population. In addition to her book, The Socialist Way of Life in Siberia: The Buryat Transformation (Central European University Press, 2014), she has also published several articles on empire, identity, and gender. Dr. Chakars has lived in the Russian cities of Ulan-Ude and Vladivostok, as well as traveled widely in Mongolia and within the former Soviet Union. She came to SJU in 2010.
B.A., Hunter College, City University of New York
M.A., Ph.D., Indiana University
HIS 100 Forging the Modern World
HIS 337 HIS History of Russia to 1861
This course is a survey of the major political, social, economic, and cultural developments of Russia from Kievan Rus to the emancipation of the serfs. Topics will include Kievan Rus; the Golden Horde; the Rise of Moscuvy; the consolidation of the Romanov autocracy; the expansion of the empire; and the Great Reforms.
HIS 338 History of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1861-1991
This course is a survey of the major political, social, economic, and cultural developments of the Russian Empire from 1861 to 1917 and of the Soviet Union from its foundation to its break-up in 1991. Topics will include the decline of tsarism; the Russian revolutions; Stalinism; WWII; the Cold War; the “thaw years” under Khrushchev; the “stagnation years” under Brezhnev; and the reforms under Gorbachev.
HIS 339 The Mongol Empire, 1100-1500
In the 13th century, the Mongols built the largest contiguous land empire the world has ever known. This course will cover the rise, running, and fall of this empire. It will explore the society and culture of the Mongols, the world’s most famous nomadic conquerors. In addition, the course will examine how the Mongol Empire impacted the course of Eurasian history. It will explore how the empire affected not only the Mongols themselves, but also the many peoples whom they conquered.
HIS 340 Stalinism: Terror and Transformation in the Soviet Union, 1920s-1950s
This course examines the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin from 1928 to 1953. This period was repressive, but also transformative. The course will address not only the suffering inflicted by Stalin's steep repression, but also the social, cultural, and economic impact of his policies. Course readings will focus on the experiences of ordinary people to demonstrate that Stalin’s rule brought both opportunity, as well as great tragedy.
The Socialist Way of Life in Siberia: Transformation in Buryatia (Central European University Press, 2014)
Co-authored with Elizabeth L. Sweet, “Professional Women and the Economic Practices of Success and Survival Before and After Regime Change: Diverse Economies and Restructuring in the Russian Republic of Buryatia,” Geojournal, 2014 DOI 10.1007/s10708-014-9522-5.
Forthcoming in fall 2014 with Routledge: Co-edited collection with Stewart Anderson titled, Modernization, Nation-Building, and Television History
“Identity, Culture, Land, and Language: Stories of Insurgent Planning in Buryatia, Russia,” co-authored with Elizabeth L. Sweet. Journal of Planning, Education, and Research 30/2 December (2010): 198-209.
“Buryat Literature as a Political and Cultural Institution from the 1950s to the 1970s,” Inner Asia 11 (2009): 47-63.
Russia and the Former Soviet Union