[This is the final part of a four-part series of posts concerning "The Past, Present, and Possible Future of Russian History in America." For background information on this series, click here. Previous installments: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three]
What is to be Done?
For scholars who have themselves been forced to curtail (or forego altogether) archival work owing to a lack of institutional support, the relative decline in research money available to Russian historians may seem inconsequential. It may even occasion a not altogether unjustifiable case of schadenfreude. After all, having long benefited disproportionately from federal largess, scholars of Russia, it stands to reason, have little business whining about declining federal support as governmental attention shifts elsewhere.
Still, while it is certainly true that Russian historians have for many years enjoyed access to funds not available to their colleagues studying, say, Britain, France, or Germany, it is likewise true that Russian historians do not have now (nor are they likely anytime in the near future to have) access to the kind of research support typically sponsored by Western European governments. Given how little the Russian state has done to support the work of its own native scholars, it is hard to imagine that it would ever consent to subsidizing research conducted by foreign graduate students and academics. What would happen to American Ph.D. programs in European history if, over the course of the next five years, the governments in Paris and Berlin reduced by one-half the number of Chateaubriand and DAAD fellowships available to U.S. scholars and graduate students needing to work in French and German archives? This may well be the fate awaiting Russian historians.