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The Aspinall Lectureship in History and Political Science has developed into a significant competition with numerous applicants recognized as national authorities in their fields.

It is with pleasure that the Foundation, with Colorado Mesa University, is able to sponsor a free lecture to the public.


About the 2021 Aspinall Lecturer 

Erika Monahan photo

Erika Monahan is an associate professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. From 1997 to 2000 she worked in Moscow and St. Petersburg for a Ukrainian-owned start-up transportation company. The experience left her with a deep interest in the history of Russian commerce, which she pursued by studying the history of merchants—including a community of Muslim Bukharan merchants—in early modern Russia while earning a doctorate in History from Stanford University. This project became her first book, The Merchants of Siberia: Trade in Early Modern Eurasia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016), which won the Lincoln Prize for a first monograph of exceptional merit and lasting significance in understanding Russia’s past. Her intellectual agenda in a nutshell is to better understand and contextualize Russia in the early modern world. Formally trained as a medievalist/early modernist but having spent over five years living in chaotic post-Soviet Russia, she is glad to teach the full chronological range of “Russian” history (Rus’, Muscovy, Russian Empire, Soviet Union, Russia) from the 9th century to the present. She also teaches graduate seminars on commerce in the early modern world and Eurasian borderlands and courses focusing on environment and empire. Her current projects include a book project tentatively entitled “Spinning Russia: Nicolaas Witsen and the Making of Russia’s Image in Early Modern Europe” and updating and expanding Lindsey Hughes’ The Romanovs, Ruling Russia, 1613–1917 (Bloomsbury, 2009) She is the Book reviews editor for Canadian-American Slavic Studies and invites Slavists from a range of disciples interested in reviewing recent scholarship to contact her.

Aspinall Course

Russia in the World: A Brief History

April 5-23, MWF 3:00-4:30 pm

SOCI 396 / CRN 45805

From a backward and boorish backwater, to WWII ally, then Cold War enemy to emergent leader in the Middle East, election meddler, and cyber spoiler on the international stage, Russia has famously and infamously played important roles in the imagination, cultural self-identity, and international geopolitics. Three decades since the 1991 demise of the socialist Soviet Union, the relations of Russia to the West are again a critical and contentious matter. Is Alexei Navalny Russia’s salvation or greatest fool? Is Russia at its core an aspiring “evil empire” or a victim of Western chauvinism? Navigating between such simplistic poles, this course addresses Russia’s historical place in the world. Ukraine and Crimea have been much in U.S. headlines; we will delve into the long and complicated histories of Russia’s relationship to these places and “The West” in general. From the world of religion and ideas, to the boots of the battlefield, to the conspiracy theories generated by troll factories of Putin’s Russia, this lecture series will address questions of contact, exchange, cooperation, and confrontation in the history of Russia and the wider world.


Each year, applicants from CMU's Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences with a 3.0 GPA or higher are interviewed by the Aspinall Foundation Board for scholarships. At present, the Wayne N. Aspinall Award is $9,000. The Charles Traylor Award is $7,000. In addition, four Aspinall Scholarships are awarded for $5,000 each and one at $2,000. There are normally 12-16 qualified applicants.

Please note that Aspinall scholarships are considered and awarded separately from CMU's general scholarship application. Applicants must submit a separate application, available below. The due date is March 1st, 2021.

Download the Aspinall Scholarship Application Form