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Being A Historian + Travel


Prophecies
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Hello everyone - hope you are all enjoy this weekend! I'm curious to hear perspectives from historians about the importance, and benefits, of travel. I'm not talking about conferences, libraries / archives or other universities, but locations relevant to one's research. Have you travelled for research? Is travel important to one's research?

My Masters thesis is on the Post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church. 

Obvs I can't go to Russia rn and this situation won't change for a while. My Master's program doesn't make travel necessary, either. But it would be nice to visit some of the Churches - it would benefit my research as it takes an art history frame. Seeing some of the statues up close would help. But alas, I must make do with other ways. 

Also, much of my broader research (Religion in Modern Europe) is animated by previous trips to Europe (which were done for tourism / fun). So even if travel isn't necessary, it can certainly shape your interests and ideas.

Thanks!

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I too have wondered about this question as my proposed dissertation topic is going to be a comparative look at places such as the US (where I live), the UK, and the Netherlands. I'd love to see what others say about this. 

I wish you luck with your Masters! :)

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I can agree with that. For Russia, I'm luckier than I thought for archives and primary sources. Many universities in the UK and USA invested in Eurasian programs / research thanks to the Cold War and World Wars, so some options include: Ohio State, School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (UCL), the medieval collections at the University of Leeds. Harvard is excellent for Byzantinum. Of course, Russia is the premier place: the libraries in Moscow and St Petersburg are truly excellent, with documents dating from the Rus as well as trade / liturgical documents relating to Constantinople diplomacy. 

A potential problem is that it's against Australian law to use government or university funding towards individuals / organisations under Sanctioned countries. So yep, must get creative for those really hard to find sources. I'm sure post-Soviet countries like Georgia have archives but I must check. 

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11 hours ago, Prophecies said:

I can agree with that. For Russia, I'm luckier than I thought for archives and primary sources. Many universities in the UK and USA invested in Eurasian programs / research thanks to the Cold War and World Wars, so some options include: Ohio State, School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (UCL), the medieval collections at the University of Leeds. Harvard is excellent for Byzantinum. Of course, Russia is the premier place: the libraries in Moscow and St Petersburg are truly excellent, with documents dating from the Rus as well as trade / liturgical documents relating to Constantinople diplomacy. 

A potential problem is that it's against Australian law to use government or university funding towards individuals / organisations under Sanctioned countries. So yep, must get creative for those really hard to find sources. I'm sure post-Soviet countries like Georgia have archives but I must check. 

I have some colleagues that work on the Soviet Union that had to re-calibrate their projects. Sometimes it's just not the right time... 

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Yeah, sadly true. I know many Ancient historians were really set back (and upset) by the Syrian Civil War, especially the attacks by ISIS. In many ways, it's not just the inability to conduct research, but seeing your field be twisted and morphed into something to be destroyed. I'll never forget the archeologist from Syria who gave up his life to protect artefacts and art. A true hero.

Many of us pick our historical specialisations not just for ourselves, but to communicate our love and interest with others. I've never been to Russia, but since 2017, I developed a strong interest in it. I have the utmost respect of the literature, theology and art. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, many of my peers were losing interest in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. There aren't many Russian historians in Australia. But I fell in love with St. Basil's Cathedral, Vladimir The Great, Ivan IV, Golden Horde's strategies, Tsardom, Russian literature, etc. Russian's invasion of Ukraine is so ghastly and ugly. Still, Russia commands further study and analysis. I'm trying to remain in good spirits about my research but again, I must be smart. 

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