I challenge my students to become what a mentor once called, “amphibians of the past.” That is to say, I ask them to dive deeply into the seemingly distant lives of others in the past in an attempt to both inhabit these worlds on their terms as much as possible, and to see themselves, and their present-day lives, as connected to them. Drawing inspiration from the work of Martha Nussbaum, the overarching philosophical purpose of this approach to the teaching of history is to cultivate the humanity of students by illuminating their inter-connectedness with citizens of the world in the past and present. My approach asks students to be empathetic rather than judgmental. Our challenge is to neither condemn nor celebrate people in the past; rather, it is to attempt to explain how and why they made the choices they did.
Doing so means: Learning how to pose critical questions designed to solve problems rather than merely memorizing information and describing past events. Asking such questions means learning how to read sources of all kinds in search of evidence to support our hypotheses. And gathering evidence with an eye on assembling it for explanation means learning how to write and speak persuasively to convince others of the validity of our explanations.
Developing these skills—while cultivating humanity and empathy through learning to be an amphibian of the past—constitute the foundation of my philosophical and practical approach to the teaching of history.
Histories of Nationalism
Histories of Violence
History of Genocide, 1945 – present
Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia
History of the Balkans
History of Modern Europe
I supervise M.A. and Ph.D. candidates with research interests in the dynamics of violence, nationalism, and historical memory in various contexts throughout the world, as well as those with interests in the modern history of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Prospective graduate students should contact me prior to applying to the program in order to discuss their research interests. Candidates should have attained at least an advanced intermediate knowledge of the relevant foreign language(s) for their research prior to submitting their applications for admission to the program.