Distant Friends and Intimate Enemies: The US and Russia


In an 1881 letter to his Russian translator of the poetry collection Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman wrote that, while the United States and Russia were “so distant, so unlike at first glance,” they nevertheless “so [resemble] each other” in their “historic and divine mission.” Whitman’s words would astonish many Americans and Russians today, since the living memory of relations between the two nations is one of conflict and animosity rather than concord and similitude.

Distant Friends and Intimate Enemies seeks to examine US-Russian relations in the context of concurrent historical developments from their beginnings in the early 19th century. This series is designed to provide a set of alternative narratives to the tendency of academics, policymakers, journalists, and the general public to only view US-Russian relations through a Cold War lens. The goal of the series is for these audiences to become more historically cognizant of the commonalities, just as much as the differences, between the two nations.


August 27, at 12-1:30 pm EST

Bonded in Human Bondage: Serfdom and Slavery
A Live Interview with
Amanda Brickell Bellows, New School
Alessandro Stanziani, School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, France


Wednesday, September 9 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST

Manifest Destinies: Russian and American Empire 
A Live Interview with
Willard Sunderland, University of Cincinnati
Daniel Immerwahr, Northwestern University


Thursday, September 24 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST

From Aliaska to Alaska: Russian and American Colonialism 
A Live Interview with

Bathsheba Demuth, Brown University
Ilya Vinkovetsky, Simon Fraser University


Thursday, October 8 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST.

Pogroms and Race Riots: Racial Violence in Russia and America 
A Live Interview with

Steven Zipperstein, Stanford University
Michael Pfeifer, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY


Thursday, October 22 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST

Black and Red: African Americans and the USSR
A Live Interview with

Meredith Roman, CUNY Brockport
Minkah Makalani, University of Texas, Austin

Thursday, November 5 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST.

The Wired Cold War
A Live Interview with

Slava Gerovitch, MIT
Ekaterina Babintseva, Harvey Mudd College

Monday November 9 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST.

America through Russian Eyes, Russia through American Eyes 
A Live Interview with

Dina Fainberg, City University of London
Victoria Zhuravleva, Russian State University for the Humanities