Oral history interview with Ronald G. Suny, 2017
Ronald Grigor Suny was born in Philadelphia in 1940 to Armenian parents. He was involved with the Harriman Institute in the mid and late 1960s for his graduate education and in the 1970s as a postdoctoral student. He has taught at Oberlin College, UC Irvine, the University of Chicago, and Stanford University. He was the first holder of the Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern Armenian History at the University of Michigan, where he founded the Armenian Studies Program. He is currently the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History. Suny's research has centered on the non-Russian nationalities of the Russian empire and Soviet Union, particularly those of the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia).
Scope and Contents
Suny narrates his personal history and how his family and heritage led to an interest in Soviet and Russian studies. He describes travels in the the-Soviet union, both on personal/family trips and on academic exchange. He also describes his experience with the Columbia University student protests of 1968 and the reaction of Harriman Institute faculty and scholars to the movement. He describes his academic work, including his paradigm-shifting theories of the Soviet Union as "the crucible of nations", as opposed to a "prison house" of nationalities, which was a dominant theory of the time. Suny also discusses debates within Harriman faculty about whether and how the Soviet Union would collapse and describes the tumult and confusion during that period. Suny then discusses his work at other universities and his enduring affinity for the Harriman Institute.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2017.