Department of History

Edward Lazzerini

  • Academic Specialist, Department of Central Eurasian Studies
  • Interim Director, Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of History


  • Ph.D. at University of Washington, 1973

Contact Information

Goodbody Hall, Rm. 348
(812) 856-0671


Edward Lazzerini

Much of my research continues to focus on the relationship between belief and knowledge in Eurasian commentary traditions—principally within the framework of the Russian Empire—and the impact of modernity on those traditions. Of particular interest is the fate of Islam as adhered to by Turkic peoples in the Volga-Kama, Black Sea, and Caucasus regions between the mid-eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. Four current projects reflect these themes:

  • Pursuing Modernity: The Thought and Practice of Ismail Bey Gasprinskii. An intellectual biography of the Tatar social commentator and activist generally recognized as the most influential early advocate of modern thought within Islamic Central Eurasia.
  • Belief and Knowledge in Islamic Central Eurasia: The Northern Tier in the 18th and 19th Centuries. A reexamination of the epistemological shift occurring among Tatars and Bashkirs that unraveled the commentary tradition based in core Islamic texts.
  • Southern Exposures: Russia in the Caucasus and Crimea, 1750-1857. An examination of “southernness” in the development of the Russian Empire.

In recent years, I have initiated projects that take advantage of the opportunities—afforded by the revolution in personal computing—to handle large data sets more efficiently, rapidly, and flexibly than previously possible for individual researchers. These projects include

  • A prosopography of the Turkic cultural elite in Central Eurasia from the 14th to 20th centuries
  • A digital site, in collaboration with scholars in Azerbaijan, dedicated to the history of the cartoon and Turkic public opinion in the Russian Empire between 1906 and 1918
  • A demographic database of village life in the Crimea from 1783 to 1905
  • Production of high quality and sophisticated historical maps and other forms of data visualization for scholarly and pedagogical purposes

Selected Awards

  • Selected President, Central EurasianStudies society, 2008-2009
  • Treadgold Memorial Lecturer for 2003, The University of Washington
  • Visiting Scholar, Middle East Studies Center, University of Michigan (November 1995)
  • Research Grant, National Council for Eurasian and East European Research (1992-1994)
  • Scholar-in-Residence, Middle East Center, The University of Utah (1990)
  • Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, University of New Orleans (1985)
  • Research Grant, National Endowment for the Humanities (Summer 1977)
  • Research Grant, International Research and Exchanges Board (1973-1974)

Research Interests

  • Eurasian commentary traditions
  • Intellectual developments within Turkic communities of Central Eurasia, 18th-20th centuries
  • Comparative study of early modern empires (Russian, Chinese, Ottoman, and Spanish)

Courses Recently Taught

  • Russia's Orient, 1552-1924
  • Rus, Khazars, and Bolgars: Ambition and Competition in Pre-Mongol Central Eurasia, 8th-13th Centuries
  • Islam and Modernity in Central Eurasia, 1850-Present
  • The Volga-Kama Region, 13th to mid-19th Centuries
  • Reading Russia's Past in Russian

Publication Highlights

The Supplement to the Modern Encyclopedia of Russian, Soviet, and Eurasian History, vols. 2-3 (Gulf Breeze, FL: American International Press, 1997-2000).

The Chinese Revolution (Westport: Greenwood, 1999).

Russia’s Orient: Imperial Borderlands and Peoples, 1700-1917, edited with Daniel Brower (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997).

“The Volga Tatars in Central Asia, 18th-20th Centuries: From Diaspora to Hegemony,” in Central Asia in Historical Perspecrtive. Ed. by Beatrice F. Manz (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), 82-100.

“Defining the Orient: A Nineteenth-Century Russo-Tatar Polemic over Identity and Cultural Representation,” in Muslim Communities Reemerge: Historical Perspectives on Nationality, Politics, and Opposition in the Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Ed. by Andreas Kappeler, et al. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1994), 33-45.

“Beyond Renewal: The Jadid Response to Pressure for Change in the Modern Age,” in Muslims of Central Asia: Expressions of Identity and Change. Ed. by Jo-Ann Gross (Durham: Duke University Press, 1992), 151-166.

“Ismail Bey Gasprinskii, the Discourse of Modernism, and the Russians,” in Tatars of the Crimea: Their Struggle for Survival. Ed. Edward Allworth (Durham: Duke University Press, 1988, 149-169.