Prof. Dr. Mikhail Akulov

URIS fellow 2021 autumn semester (August 2021 to January 2022)


Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 has led to increased engagement with the peninsula and its history within the field of research on Ukraine. In his research project “Between Nation and Empire. Crimea under the German Occupation in 1918”, 2021 autumn semester URIS fellow Prof. Mikhail Akulov addresses an almost forgotten episode from the late stages of World War I. The focus is on Wilhelmine Germany’s endeavour to turn Crimea, which had been occupied since May 1918, into a home for all German-speaking settlers in Russia. Though these plans were not realised, this episode is of interest not least because it opens fascinating comparative perspectives with other periods in the history of the peninsula and other plans for national “homogenisation” of the local population there.

In his course “Neither Red nor White: The 1917 Revolution as a National Moment”, Mikhail Akulov will join students in investigating the significance of the many national movements within the 1917 Russian Revolution, which is usually described as “Russian” and often reduced to the confrontation between “Whites” and “Reds”. The focus is on Ukraine and Central Asia and the comparison of “national liberation movements” in the context of nation-building and decolonisation. Another topic addressed will be post-Soviet narratives about these historical processes, which are often instrumentalised in the culture of remembrance.

Prof. Mikhail Akulov is a historian who researches and teaches at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan (Astana) in Kazakhstan. He studied history at Harvard University (USA), where he obtained his doctorate in 2013 with a thesis on the history of Ukraine in World War I (“War Without Fronts: Atamans and Commissars in Ukraine, 1917-1919”). He went on to accept an appointment as Professor of History at the Kazakh British Technical University in Almaty. Since 2018 he has served at the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan, where he primarily teaches courses on the history of Eurasia during the short twentieth century (1914-1991).

Mikhail Akulov’s research interests include processes of social transition, the history of ideas and social history of the Soviet Union, definitions of fascism, Soviet and post-Soviet utopias, and the historiography of the philosophy of history.


Further information on Mikhail Akulov: CV incl. list of publications