Associate Professor of History Eileen Kane has been awarded a $60,000 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to research and write a book on Jewish and Muslim emigration from Russia to the Middle East from the 1840s to the 1940s.
Kane, who serves as the director of Connecticut College's Global Islamic Studies program, is a historian of modern Europe interested in connections between Russia and the Middle East. In 2017, she received a $237,000 New Directions Fellowship from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to train in Middle East studies at Brown University, in order to investigate how large-scale migrations of both Muslims and Jews from Russia and the Soviet Union contributed to the formation of the modern Middle East.
"Between the 1840s and 1940s, more than a million Russian (and later Soviet) subjects migrated to the Middle East. These migrants transformed the places where they settled, but this history is underresearched and its implications for the present are poorly understood," Kane said.
"I'm working to recover a history that has often been distorted for ideological and national agendas, by exploring how competing state and philanthropic institutions sought to limit, channel and instrumentalize these human migrations for their own purposes."
Kane's book, tentatively titled Emigrant Empire, will integrate the histories of Jewish and Muslim emigration from Russia to the Middle East, and expand the boundaries of standard histories of European migrants and refugees to include Muslim migrants and the Middle East.
Kane is one of only 99 scholars nationwide to receive NEH fellowships. The application process is highly competitive; just eight percent of projects are funded.
This is Kane's second NEH fellowship. In 2009, she received a fellowship to support the research for and writing of her first book, Russian Hajj: Empire and the Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca, which was published in 2015 by Cornell University Press.
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation.