Program Leaders

Harriet Murav is Center for Advanced Study Professor and the Catherine and Bruce Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative and World Literatures at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She currently serves as editor of Slavic Review. Her forthcoming book from Indiana University Press, As the Dust of the Earth: The Literature of Abandonment in Revolutionary Russia and Ukraine, addresses artistic literature and relief work in response to the pogroms of 1918-1922. She has also published on the Yiddish modernist David Bergelson and on Soviet Jewish literature (Music from a Speeding Train: Jewish Literature in Post-Revolution Russia, published by Stanford University Press in 2011). She received a Guggenheim Fellowship for this study in 2006. She is currently working on a translation of Soviet Yiddish and Russian Holocaust short fiction. 

Eugene M. Avrutin is the Tobor Family Endowed Professor of Modern European Jewish History at the University of Illinois. He is the author and co-editor of several award-winning books, including Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia (Cornell University Press, 2010) and The Velizh Affair: Blood Libel in a Russian Town (Oxford University Press, 2018). He is currently at work on a longer book on everyday crime, imperial legal culture, and neighborly relations. His scholarship has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Kit Condill is the Director of the Slavic Library Institute and the Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies Librarian at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is a 2004 graduate of UIUC’s School of Information Sciences, where he teaches a Slavic Bibliography course each fall, and a 1995 graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He spent seven years as the Central Asian Reference Specialist for (and then Manager of) the federally-funded Slavic Reference Service, and was named an inaugural Ralph T. Fisher Library Scholar in 2017.  His research interests revolve around the print and online publications of the peoples of Central Eurasia, especially the North Caucasus.

Joseph Lenkart is the head of the Slavic Reference Service, a specialized library service supported by the Title VIII grant. He was formerly the Reference Specialist on Central Asia. He holds an MSLIS and an MA in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include library support for less commonly taught languages, publishing history, and publishing cultures of ethnic minorities.

Christopher Fennell is an anthropologist and lawyer specializing in historical archaeology, diaspora studies, and legal anthropology as a Professor of Anthropology and Law. His empirical research addresses subjects in trans-Atlantic history and the dynamics of social group affiliations and lifeways among Europeans, Africans, and various social groups within the Americas. These research initiatives include interpretative frameworks focusing on social group identities, ethnic group dynamics and racialization, diaspora studies, regional systems and commodity chains, stylistic and symbolic elements of material culture, consumption patterns, and analysis of craft and industrial enterprises. He is also the founding editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage (Taylor & Francis Press) and a member of the international advisory committee for the Global Irish Diaspora Congress (

Olga Makarova is a visiting research specialist with the Slavic Reference Service at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has experience in library reference, acquisitions, and technical services. She holds degrees in Philology and Russian as a Foreign Language from St. Petersburg State University, as well as a MS in Library and Information Sciences from the University of Illinois. Olga’s research interests include US-Soviet library relations and women’s studies.

Lia Alon is a social historian of Jewish Middle Eastern societies, modernity, family history, and class identity; she also specializes in the history and culture of modern Israel and gender studies. Dr. Alon’s work combines oral and archival documents and micro-history methodology. Her current research focuses on the Jewish-American experience in central Illinois since the 19th century and the dialectic dynamic between center and periphery. She recently published “Class Performativity, Modernity and the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi Divide the Jewish Urban Middle Classes of Egypt in Israel 1948-1967,” in the journal of Israeli History (2022). Dr. Alon earned her Ph.D. from Ben Gurion University of the Negev (2018). 

Minkyung Kim researches organizational communication and its impacts on community resilience and sustainability; specifically, she studies organizations serving vulnerable populations and how they leverage and navigate communication processes like inter-organizational networks to maximize their capacity for community impact. She also researches symbolic, material, and mediated artifacts as forms of organizing and how such artifacts empower culturally and politically marginalized communities. Kim’s works have been published in the Journal of Communication, Nonprofit Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Quarterly Journal of Speech, and mainstream and ethnic news media in South Korea and Europe. 

Katherine Ashcraft is a master’s candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Library and Information Sciences and History. She is a graduate assistant with the Slavic Reference Service and co-director of the Central Asia Research Cluster. Her research interests include the history of publishing and literacy in Central Asia, particularly Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.