Hubertus Jahn image
College positions
Fellow and Director of Studies
University positions
Emeritus Professor of the History of Russia and the Caucasus
Email Address


I am a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union with a strong interdisciplinary track record. My research and teaching cover all periods of Russian history and culture, and some aspects of Eastern European history. More recently I have developed an interest in New Imperial History with a particular focus on the South Caucasus. Holding a MA from the University of Munich, a PhD from Georgetown University, a second doctorate (Habilitation) from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, I have been teaching at leading universities in the US, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

My first monograph on patriotism during World War I helped to establish this 'forgotten' war as a research topic in Russian history. It unearthed a wealth of sources – posters, popular broadsheets, postcards, variety shows, circus acts, cinema, music, operetta and opera – that had been inaccessible or completely forgotten over the Soviet period. Through an analysis of these cultural genres, I argued that the 1917 revolutions did not happen only because of economic and social factors, but also because of the absence of a unifying national identity. In my second book, I broadened the temporal scope of my work by exploring realities and representations of poverty and begging in Russia from the Middle Ages to the present. Combining cultural and social history over the longue durée, this book brings together sources ranging from medieval chronicles and theological tracts to nineteenth-century ethnography and post-Soviet anthropological field work, from poetry, literature, and newspapers, to police records, legal texts, and medical studies. Using 'social imagination' as a conceptual frame, I analyse contrasting perspectives, attitudes, and policies on beggars and the poor, but also illuminate their material living conditions and everyday lives. My current project explores the aesthetic symbolism and the scenarios of Russian imperial power in the South Caucasus in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It effectively combines the cultural history of politics with the history of empire, a field that has become particularly relevant after the collapse of the USSR. By investigating in a vignette-like fashion such diverse phenomena as royal visits, the building and unveiling of monuments, and the opening ceremonies and internal arrangements of museums and exhibitions in one particular geographical region, I am in fact proposing a micro-historical approach to the history of the Russian Empire and hope to contribute to a better understanding of Russia’s imperial history and to current debates about the meaning of the Russian experience in the South Caucasus.

Department webpage

Further Information

Key publications

"A War on History? Patriotism and Propaganda in Contemporary Russia." In History Workshop (2022)

Identities and Representations in Georgia from the 19th Century to the Present. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, Oldenbourg (= Schriften des Historischen Kollegs 103). Editor (2020)

“Visits of Tsars to the Caucasus and the Representation of Empire.” In Identities and Representations in Georgia from the 19th Century to the Present, ed. Hubertus Jahn. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, Oldenbourg, pp.169-184 (2020)

“Voices from the Lower Depths: Russian Poor in their Own Words.” In Rescuing
the Vulnerable: Poverty, Welfare and Social Ties in Nineteenth and Twentieth
Century Europe, eds. Beate Althammer, Lutz Raphael, and Tamara Stazic-
Wendt. New York, Oxford: Berghahn, pp.335-355 (2016)

“The Bronze Viceroy: Mikhail Vorontsov’s Statue and Russian Imperial Representation in the South Caucasus in the Mid-19th Century.” In Russian History 41, pp.163-180 (2014)

“Myths, Urban Folklore and Local Identity in St. Petersburg.” In Beyond Revolutionary Dreams: Essays in Memory of Richard Stites, pp.288-403 (= Canadian-American Slavic Studies 46) (2012)

Armes Russland: Bettler und Notleidende in der russischen Geschichte vom Mittelalter bis in die Gegenwart. Paderborn: Schöningh Verlag (2010)

“Russia, 1914-1945.” In Twisted Paths: Europe 1914-1945, ed. Robert Gerwarth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.297-324 (2007)

“’Us’: Russians on Russianness.” In National Identity in Russian Culture, eds. Simon Franklin and Emma Widdis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.53-73 (2004)

Birches, Bolsheviks, and Balalaikas: Popular Culture in Russian History (= Journal of Popular Culture 31:4, in honour of Richard Stites). Editor (with James von Geldern) (1998)

„Der St.Petersburger Heumarkt im 19. Jahrhundert. Metamorphosen eines Stadtviertels.“ In Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 44, pp.162-177 (1996)

Patriotic Culture in Russia during World War I. Ithaca, London: Cornell University Press (1995, paperback edition 1998)

„Mein letzter Abend in Leningrad.“ In Kursbuch 103: „Rußland verstehen“. Berlin: Rowohlt, pp.6-19 (1991)

“The Housing Revolution in Petrograd, 1917-1920.” In Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 38, pp.212-227 (1990)