Talks

A dynamic and sought-after speaker, David knows how to engage audiences through his knowledge and enthusiasm. While skilled at speaking to scholars, one of his unique strengths is making difficult material accessible and relevant to all.

David is available to speak on a variety of topics and can custom design keynote addresses and other talks to meet the needs of specific audiences. His sample topics include:

What is Russian Orientalism?

This talk examines the applicability of Edward Said’s theories to Russia about “Orientalism” as a hegemonic device. The focus is on a painter and a composer whose works were created in the late nineteenth century, at a time of tsarist conquest in Central Asia. After a brief survey of how Russian Orientalism fits into the broader framework of Said’s ideas about culture and colonialism, we’ll contrast the war painter Vasilli Vereshchagin’s “Turkestan Series” (a portrayal of tsarist small wars against the Islamic khanates) with Aleksandr Borodin’s opera Prince Igor. The talk is accompanied by slides and musical clips.

Paul’s Great Game: The Russian Plan to Conquer India

Focused on Paul I’s ill-fated expedition to India of 1801, this talk details the preparation and execution of Ataman Orlov-Denisov’s mission in January of that year in the context of the Napoleonic Wars, as well as previous French schemes to conquer the subcontinent. Historians have described Paul’s scheme as “vaguely prepared and ill-conceived” and “a wild adventure.” This talk also explores what Russians knew about the lands that separated Russia’s steppe frontier from British India at the turn of the nineteenth century through a brief discussion of the state of military Orientology at the time, and also the place of India in Russian geopolitical thought in Catherinian and Pauline Russia.

The Russian Way of War

Is there a distinctive Russian way of war? This talk covers what is distinctive about Russia’s approach to conducting warfare with an emphasis on geography, foreign influences and reform in the modern age, as well as two influential military thinkers: the late 18th century generalissimo Aleksandr Suvorov and the Soviet marshal, Mikhail Tukhachevskii. 

Invited Lectures

“Islam and Russian Orientology,” European University of St Petersburg (5/17)

“The Crimean War,” “The Great Game,” “Russia’s Drive East,” “The Russo-Japanese War,” “Clausewitz vs Jomini,” “The Napoleonic Wars,” “Navalism,” “The Russian Way of War,” Russian Grand Strategy Seminar, Moscow (4-5/17)

“The Curious Fate of Edward Said in Russia,” Hankuk University for International Studies, Seoul (10/16)

“The Russian Geographical Society and the Great Game,” Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (7/16)

“Russian Orientalism” – cycle of 6 lectures, Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg (5/16)

“What You Should Know about Russia’s Past to Understand the Way It Behaves Today,” Lifelong Learning Niagara, St Catharines (9/15)

“The Kashgar Question: Yakub Beg and Sino-Russian Relations, 1865-1878,” Slavic Research Centre, Hokkaido University (8/15)

“Russia’s Great War: The Eastern Front in Historical Perspective,” Niagara Historical Society, Niagara-on-the-Lake (5/15).

“Tsar and Shah: The Russo-Persian Encounter,” Ohio State University, Columbus (11/14)

“Почему Россия готовилась к войне в 1914 году?” (Why Did Russia Prepare for War in 1914?), Institute of World History, Moscow (9/14).

“Russia’s Aims in the Great War,” Higher School of Economics, Moscow (6/14)

“Russia, Napoleon and the Invasion of British India,” LSE Ideas, Mežotnes, Latvia (5/14)

“India: Russia’s First Imaginary Orient,” Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (4/14).

“Агенты Империи? Русское географическое общество и Большая игра” (Agents of Empire? The Russian Geographical Society and the Great Game), Russian Geographical Society St Petersburg (10/13)

“Het Grote Spel van Paul I” (Paul I’s Great Game), University of Amsterdam (10/13)

“Growling Bear: Russia and the Eastern Front,” St John Fischer College (2/13)

“What is Russian Orientalism?” University of Western Ontario (3/13); Western Michigan State University (2/13); St John Fischer College (2/13); University of Toronto (3/12); Humboldt University (5/11); American University of Beirut (3/11), University of Aberdeen (1/11); University of Dundee (1/11); University of Amsterdam (5/09); University of Manchester (5/09); Carleton University (3/08)

“Была ли у Романовых большая стратегия? (Did the Romanovs Have a Grand Strategy?), Institute of Russian History, Moscow (12/12)

“Paul’s Great Game: Russia, Napoleon and the Conquest of India,” University of Liverpool (11/12); Royal Canadian Military Institute, Toronto (4/15)

“Большая игра России в Тибете,” (Russia’s Great Game), Institute of Russian History (6/12), Moscow State University (6/12)

“Азиятская Соблазнь” (The Asian Temptation), Institute of History, Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent (5/12)

“Востoчная муза” (The Oriental Muse), Institute of History, Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent (5/12)

“Военное востоведение” (Military Orientology), Institute of History, Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent (5/12)

“Петербург: Востоковедение, самодержавие и университет” (St Petersburg: Orientology, Autocracy and the University), Institute of History, Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent (4/12)

“Казань: Начало университетского востоковедения на берегах Волги” (Kazan: The Birth of University Orientology on the Banks of the Volga River), Institute of History, Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent (4/12)

“Лес и степ: Допетровская Россия и Восток” (The Forest and the Steppe: Pre-Petrine Russia and the Orient), Institute of History, Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent (4/12)

“Что такое ориентализм?” (What Is Orientalism?), Institute of History, Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent (4/12)

“Russian Orientalism: Further Reflections,” Brock University (4/12)

“Orientalism Revisited,” Leiden University (3/11)

“Russia’s Aims in the Great War,” German Historical Institute, London (10/11)

“Что такое русский ориентaлизм?” (What Is Russian Orientalism?), Institute for Oriental Manuscripts, St Petersburg (5/11)

“Het Grote Spel van Rusland,” (Russia’s Great Game), Groningen University (4/11)

“Le Grand Jeu russe,” Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris (3/11)

“L’orientalisme russe et l’Islam” Institut d’étude de l’islam et des societies du monde musulman, Paris (2/11)

“Wat is het Russiche Oriëntalisme?” (What Is Russian Orientalism?), Leiden University (12/10)

“Azië in de Russische Gedachte” (Asia in the Russian Mind), Groningen University (12/10)

“Le Caucase dans l’imaginaire littéraire russe,” EHESS, Paris (11/10)

“Идеология и внешная политка” (Ideology and Foreign Policy), Moscow State University (9/09)

“Qu'est l'orientalisme russe,” Université de Nancy (2/11); EHESS, Paris (4/09), Université de Lausanne(12/08); Université Toulouse (5/07)

“The Ambiguities of Russian Imperialism,” Yale (4/09)

“Russia’s Great Game,” Brock University (3/09)

“Major-General Sir Isaac Brock,” Royal Canadian Military Institute, Toronto (10/08)

“’Know Thine Enemy’: The Travails of Russian Missionary Orientalism,” Yale (4/08)

“The St Petersburg School of Russian Orientology,” University of Toronto (3/08)

“The Queen’s York Rangers at 250 Years,” Royal Canadian Military Institute, Toronto, (10/6)

“Catherinian Chinoiserie: The Adoption of Western Orientalism in 18th century Russia,”

EHESS, Paris (5/06)

“A Contradiction in Terms? Russian Military Intelligence during the War with Japan,” Royal Canadian Military Institute, Toronto (5/06)

with Yasutoshi Teramoto, “Diplomacy Before and After the Russo-Japanese War,” Dartmouth (9/05)

“Short-Term Origins of the Russo-Japanese War-Russia,” Keio University, Tokyo (5/05)

“A Centenary Reappraisal of the Russo-Japanese War,” Royal Canadian Military Institute, Toronto (5/05)

“Реформирование военной разведки в контексте военных реформ Д. А. Милиютина,” (Military Intelligence Reform in the Context of Miliutin’s Militart Reforms), Moscow State University (10/04)

“The Kazan School of Russian Orientology,” Brock University (10/04)

“Russian Ideologies of Empire and the Origins of the War with Japan,” Birkbeck College, University of London (3/04)

“George Vernadsky’s Patterns of Russian History,” American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies Annual Conference, Toronto (11/03)

“Mirza Kazem-Bek and the Kazan School of Russian Orientology,” Harvard (10/03)

“Reflections on the Relevance of Edward Said to Russian Orientalism,” Japanese Society for the Study of Russian History, Tokyo (2/03); University of North Carolina (4/03)

“Do the Archives Change the Story? Rethinking the Origins of the Russo-Japanese War,” Hokkaido University (1/03)

“Don’t Know Much about History, Don’t Know Much Geography: Teaching the History of the Russian Empire to the Post-Literate Undergraduate in North America,” Kazan University (6/02)

“A Fresh Look at the Outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War,” Dartmouth (4/02)

“Diplomacy, Civil Society and the Third Duma,” Great War Seminar, Philadelphia (5/01)

“Ideologies of Empire in Imperial Russia,” Yale (2/01)

“Why You Should be Happy about the End of History,” Yale (12/00)

“A Special Relationship? Patterns of Sino-Russian Interaction in the Past,” University of Toronto/York (12/00)

“What Is Russian Orientalism?” Helsinki University (7/01)

“To Build a Great Russia: Civil-Military Co-operation in the Third Duma,” Harvard (9/00)

“The Post-Soviet Renaissance of Asianism and Eurasianism,” Yale (2/00)

“Righteous Fists or Yellow Peril,” Harvard (3/98), Yale (4/98)

“Russian History and Area Studies at Yale,” Yale (3/98)

“The Unknown Przhevalskii,” Harvard (12/97), Columbia (2/98)

“Tsarist Intelligence and the Younghusband Expedition,” Yale (5/96)

“Неизвестный Пржевальский,” (The Unknown Przhevalskii), Kozlov Museum, St. Petersburg (2/96)

“Mиссия Pоссии на Дальнем Bocтoке,” (Russia’s Mission in the Far East), St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Russian History (10/95)

“Russia, an Asian Power,” Yale (7/95)

“Hаш Дальный Bocтoк,” (Our Far East), Institute of Russian History, Moscow (5/95)

“The Asianist Vision of Prince Ukhtomskii,” Kazan University, Russia (8/94); University of Connecticut (10/94)

REFEREED CONFERENCE PAPERS

“Russia’s Aims in the Great War,” Canadian Association of Slavists (CAS),

St Catharines (5/14); International Council on Central European and Eurasian Studies International Conference, Makuhari (8/15)

“The Relevance of Russian History on the Canadian Campus,” Canadian Historical Association, St Catharines (5/14)

“Did the Romanovs Have a Grand Strategy?” ASEEES, Boston (11/13)

“Paul’s Great Game: Russia, Napoleon and the Conquest of India,” ASEEES, New Orleans (11/12); CAS, Victoria (5/12)

“Yoke or Legacy: The Golden Horde in Russian Historical Memory,” Centenary Slavic Studies Conference, Leiden University (10/13)

“Eurasianism’s Pre-Revolutionary Roots, ” “Russian Diplomacy during the Great War,”

“Peter the Great and the Dawn of Russian Orientology,” International Congress for Central & East European Studies (ICCEES), Stockholm (7/10)

“Asia in the Russian Mind,” American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies Annual Conference (AAASS), Boston (11/09)

“Robert Rogers: The Original Ranger,” Niagara's Military Past & Present Symposium, St Catharines (11/09)

“Isaac Brock: The Man behind the Myth,” Niagara's Military Past & Present Symposium, St Catharines (11/08)

“‘Know Thine Enemy’: The Travails of Russian Missionary Orientalism,” AAASS,

New Orleans (11/07)

“Vereshchagin’s Canvases of Central Asian Conquest,” AAASS, Washington, DC (11/06)

“The Kazan School of Russian Orientology,” AAASS, Boston (12/04); Brock University (10/04)

“George Vernadsky’s Patterns of Russian History,” AAASS, Toronto (11/03)

“What Has Been Written about the Russo-Japanese War?” Southern Conference on Slavic Studies (SCSS), Savannnah (3/03)

“The Historiography of the Russo-Japanese War,” AAASS, Pittsburgh (11/02)

“The Diplomatic Origins of the Russo-Japanese War,” SCSS, Daytona Beach (3/02)

“From the Treaty of Shimonoseki to Port Arthur,” AAASS, Crystal City (11/01)

“What Is Russian Orientalism?” AAASS, Denver (11/00)

“General Kuropatkin’s Yellow Peril, ICCEES, Tampere, Finland (7/00)

“The Boxer Rebellion and the Russian Press” Brock Humanities Symposium (4/00)

“Lama Dorzhiev and the Younghusband Expedition to Tibet of 1904” Central and Inner Asia Seminar, Toronto (3/00)

“Dmitrii Miliutin and the Reform of Russian Military Intelligence,” AAASS Annual Convention, St. Louis (11/99)

“Empire and Nation in Russia and the Soviet Union,” Roundtable, Midwest Russian History Workshop, Toronto (4/99)

“Vladimir Solovev’s Yellow Peril” AHA Annual Conference, Washington, DC (1/99)

“We Are Asians Too!” Harbin and Manchuria Conference, Toronto (11/98)

“Russia and America in the Pacific: From Cooperation to Rivalry,” Itinerario Conference, Wassenaar (10/98)

“Ideologies of Empire in Imperial Russia,” AAASS, Boca Raton (9/98)

“Жeльтая Oпacность или Kyлaки Cправeдливости,” (Righteous Fists or Yellow Peril), Far East of Russia and Northeast China Conference, Khabarovsk (6/98)

“Righteous Fists or Yellow Peril,” CAS, Sherbrooke (5/99)

“Prince Igor and General Skobelev: Opera as Metaphor for the Conquest of Central Asia,” AAASS, Seattle (11/97)

“Reforming Russian Military Intelligence, ” Reforming the Tsar’s Army Conference, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC (10/97)

“The Tsar’s Black Chamber,” Seventh Cryptologic History Symposium, Ft. Meade (10/97)

“Nikolai Przhevalskii and the Reconnaissance of Inner Asia,” AAASS, Boston (11/96)

“The Imperialism of Nikolai Przhevalskii and China’s Inner Asian Borderlands,” AHA annual meeting, Chicago (1/95)

“Was Tsushima an Intelligence Failure?” AAASS, Philadelphia (11/94)

“Catherinian Nationalities Policy and the Kalmyk Exodus of 1771,” SSRC Workshop on Imperial Russian History, Portland, OR (9/94)

“Diplomatic History and the Imperial Russian Archives,” Bradley Conference on International and Diplomatic History, Yale (12/93)

Refereed Conference Papers Cont’d

“Government Finance and Russia's Third Duma,” Ivy League Russian Conference, Columbia (4/93)

“The CIA's Secret War in Tibet,” Columbia East Asian Conference (2/93)

“The 1959 Revolt in Lhasa,” Yale Tibet Conference (10/92), Columbia East Asian Conference (2/92)