Charles Shaw

Academic Rank: 
Assistant Professor
Vienna, Quellenstrasse 51
+36 1 327-3000 x 2308

I am a social and cultural historian of the Soviet Union, with emphases on Central Asia, the Second World War, and comparative empires. At CEU I teach seminars on the Russian Revolution, Central Asia, transnational and imperial history, the Soviet and global experiences of World War II, biography and history, as well as departmental writing seminars and a core course, Grand Debates in Russian and Eurasian history. I welcome M.A. and Ph.D. applicants interested in topics related to the social and cultural history of the Soviet Union and Central Asia. 

My book project, When Muhamed Became Misha: Central Asia in World War II, 1941-1949, examines how World War II transformed the Soviet empire and Central Asia’s place within it. The title references a 1945 letter from an Uzbek soldier to a teenage kolkhoz heroine in his native Fergana valley in which he employs both his given name – Muhamed – and his frontline nickname – Misha. The author’s split identification exemplifies the central question of the project: how to interpret the Sovietization of war?

Concurrent research topics include: the Soviet Central Asian entertainer Tamara Khanum; humor and satire during World War II; and the photography of Soviet- and German-occupied Eastern Europe. My next project, tentatively titled The Soviet Silk Road, will investigate Central Asia’s role in the Cold War. I plan to focus on the emergence of tourist infrastructure, architectural preservation, and Soviet oriental studies to explore the region’s status as custodian of cultural traditions in common with its neighbors to the South.


Advanced Research Fellowship, American Councils Title VIII Research Scholar Program, 2018-19 (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan).

Harriman Institute, Columbia University, Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2015-16 (declined)

Simpson Dissertation Fellowship, Institute of International Studies, UC-Berkeley, 2014

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Summer Grant, UC-Berkeley, Uzbek, 2008

Michael I. Gurevich Memorial Prize in Russian History, UC-Berkeley, 2008

FLAS Summer Grant, Stanford University, Uzbek, 2007

FLAS Academic Year Grant, Stanford University, CREEES, Kazakh, 2006

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute, “China and the Islamic World,” Columbia University, 2005

Richard Smoke Summer Fellowship, Soros Foundation – Almaty, Kazakhstan, Brown University, 2002


“Love Letters to O’g’ulxon: Photography and Imperial Intimacy in the Great Patriotic War,” in Valerie Kivelson, Sergei Kozlov, and Joan Neuberger (eds.) Picturing Russian Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2022). 

“Soldiers’ Letters to Inobatxon and O’g’ulxon: Gender and Nationality in the Birth of a Soviet Romantic Culture,” Kritika 17, no. 3 (Summer 2016): 517-552.

 “The Last Soviet Park In Russia,” The Appendix, Vol. 2, Issue 1, January 2014.

 “Friendship under Lock and Key: the Soviet Central Asian border, 1918-1934,” Central Asian Survey, Vol. 30, Issue 3-4 (2011), pp. 331-348.

 "The Gur-i Amir Mausoleum and the Soviet Politics of Preservation," Future Anterior, Vol. 8 (2011), pp. 42-63.

Courses taught in the previous years

  • Historiography II: Grand Debates on Issues of the History of Russian and Eurasian History (together with Jan Hennings)
  • Mobility, Exchange, and Revolution: Introduction to Modern Central Asia
  • Socialist Intermediaries: the Institutions and Practice of Transnational Communism (together with Constantin Iordachi)
  • The Soviet Empire: National and Transnational Perspectives 
  • Great Lives: Biography and Individual Lives in Historical Writing” (with Prof. Brett Wilson)
  • 1917: Revolution and Reverberation
  • The World at War: Global and Imperial Perspectives on World War II
  • World War II in Soviet History 

Doctoral supervision

  • Producing 'Good Friends' of the Soviet Union? People's Friendship University in the Field of Soviet Educational Cooperation with the Developing World, 1960-1979 / Riikkamari Muhonen (current)
  • Science, war, and religion in the making of modern Central Asia (1950s-1990s): A Microhistory of Sharora, Tajikistan / Faruh Kuziev (current)
  • Russia’s Land of the Future: Empires, People, and Resources in Yakutia, 1915-1930 / Aleksandr Korobeinikov (current)
  • Inventing the East: Architectural Projects of Soviet Theaters in Central Asian republics / Anna Pronina (current)


Ph.D. History, University of California, Berkeley, 2015
M.A. Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Stanford University, 2007
B.A. History and Slavic Studies, Brown University, 2002

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