Oral history interview with Peter A. Charow, 2017
Peter Charow is a graduate of Swarthmore College, where he studied Russian language, history, culture, politics and economics. Charow holds M.A. and M.Phil degrees in Political Science from Columbia University and the Harriman Institute, and he spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar at Leningrad State University in the mid-1980s. He founded and led the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia from 1994 to 1997 before joining Amoco's Moscow office. He was BP's Vice President for Russia at the time of the interview.
Scope and Contents
Charow charts his personal academic history and path towards the Harriman Institute (then called the Russian Institute). He notes the talent of members of insitute at the time of his arrival. Charow briefly describes time spent on academic exchange in the Soviet Union. He narrates the tumult and confusion in the period immediately following the USSR's collapse and how a desire for stability pushed him out of academia and into business. Charow discusses his experience moving to Moscow in the early 1990s and the challenges he faced as part of the effort to set up an American Chamber of Commerce in the new Russia. He discusses his experiences working in the petroleum industry in Russia from the mid-1990s to the present, and how the political atmosphere of Russia impacted business dealings. He notes the decline in interest in Russian studies both in the US and in Russia since his time at Harriman, and argues that Harriman might want to consider a more business-focused orientation for the future. Charow sees a need for continued scholarship on Russia from the US and hopes to help ‘the next generation' in some way.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2016.