Interview with Edward Mahabir '15
Project Title Legacies of the Tsars: Catherine The Great, Nicholas II, and Historical Memory in Russian History
How did you develop an interest in this project?
This project interested me because I want to examine how people perceive their past, and how that perception influences their national pride and identity. To research that, I want to look at two historical figures, Nicholas II and Catherine the Great, each of whom has represented crucial moments and identities in Russian History. Nicholas II has had such a changing image throughout the 20th century, and Catherine the Great is notable for both her gender and foreign identity.
What kinds of research methods do you plan on using?
I am going to examine different biographies, relying as much as possible on Russian sources. I’m especially interested in analyzing children’s textbooks and school curriculums. I hope to contextualize these findings on a timeline of the 20th century, looking for broader trends of perception. That way, I can put changing views on the Tsars into their historical framework. These methods have been used for similar questions, so I’ll be able to get into a field where there is an established methodology but with new figures.
Do you have any advice for other students interested in doing an independent research project?
I would say it’s important to stick with what you’re interested in studying. Don’t focus too much on what others want to see! And it’s definitely critical to always keep in touch with your advisers!