Aaron B. Retish - Associate Professor


Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2003

M.A., The Ohio State University, 1996

B.A., The University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992


Aaron Retish is the author of Russia’s Peasants in Revolution and Civil War: Citizenship, Identity, and the Creation of the Soviet State, 1914-1922 (Cambridge University Press, 2008/pbk 2012), a regional study of how peasants’ conceptions of themselves as citizens evolved in a time of total war, mass revolutionary politics, and civil breakdown.  He is also the author of articles on violence and peasant identity in the Revolutionary era and has research interests in gender and ethnicity in the late Imperial and Soviet countryside.  

He is currently working on a book project, “In the Courts of Revolution: Vengeance, Legality, and Citizenship in the Rural Soviet Courtroom, 1917-1939” that examines how rural Soviet citizens engaged local legal organs, such as the people’s courts, from the 1917 Communist revolution until the eve of World War II. Based on deep archival research of cases before courts in the Udmurt Republic as well as Kirov, Nizhnii Novgorod, Moscow, and Samara regions, this book shows a vibrant legal culture among Soviet peasants.  In it Retish will uncover how people understood criminality and justice in a time of dynamic political and social violence.

Retish co-edits the journal Revolutionary Russia with Dr. Sarah Badcock (U. of Nottingham).                                                                                   

He is also serves as co-editor of H-Citizenship with Prof. Matthew Davis (U. of Wisconsin-Stevens-Point). 


Select Publications

Russia’s Peasants in Revolution and Civil War: Citizenship, Identity, and the Creation of the Soviet State, 1914-1922 (Cambridge University Press, 2008.  Winner of the Wayne State Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award, 2009. Paperback 2012).  


"A Kaleidoscope of Revolutions: Russia in Regional Perspective, 1914-1921," with Sarah Badcock and Liudmila Novikova (Moscow State University).  Edited volume on Russia’s provinces and peripheries of the Revolution in progress.   Under contract with Slavica Press.  To be published as part of the "Russia's Great War and Revolution, 1914-1922: A Centennial Reappraisal" international project.

"Eastward Ho!  Peasant Migratory Networks of Viatka Province During Peace and Revolution, 1850-1921," The Making of Russian History: Festschrift for Allan K. Wildman (Slavica, 2009).

"Creating Peasant Citizens: Rituals of Power, Rituals of Citizenship in Viatka Province, February-October 1917," Revolutionary Russia, June 2003.

"Becoming Enlightened: National Backwardness and Revolutionary Ideology," Proceedings of the Ohio Academy of History 2002, 2003.

"Sotsial’nye konflikty v srede viatskogo krest’ianstva v khode provedeniia zemel’noi reformy v 1918 g." (Social Conflicts Among the Viatka Peasantry During the Implementation of the Land Reform in 1918), Nauchnyi vestnik. Kirovskogo filiala Moskovskogo gumanitarno ekonomicheskogo instituta. Nauchno-metodicheskii zhurnal, (Academic Bulletin of the Kirov Branch of the Moscow State Economic Institute. Academic-Methodological Journal) no. 5. Kirov, Russia, 2000.


Select Awards

Harry Frank Guggenheim Research Fellowship, 2012-13

American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant, 2012

President’s Research Enhancement Award, Wayne State University, 2011-12

Career Development Chair, Wayne State University, 2011-12

Extra Mile Award, Student Disability Services, Wayne State University, 2011

Wayne State Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award, 2009

Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching, Wayne State University 2008

Kennan Institute Short-Term Research Fellow, 2008

Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies Residence Research Grant, U. of Michigan, 2007-08

Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship, Wayne State University, 2006-07

Humanities Center Scholar in Residence, Wayne State University, 2006-07

Scholar in Residence, Illinois University Russian Research Laboratory, 2006

International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) Short Term Grant, 2004

University Research Grant, Wayne State University, 2004

Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Title VIII Fellow, 2003


Courses Taught

•HIS 1300 Western Civilization, 1500-1945

•HIS 1400 The World Since 1945 

•HIS 5450/7450 Europe in the Interwar Period

•HIS 5490/7490 Russia to the Revolution

•HIS 5495/7495 Russian Revolution

•HIS 5500/7700 The Soviet Union

•HIS 5996 Capstone Seminar for History Majors

•HIS 8240 Graduate Seminar in Modern European History

•HIS 8310 Graduate Readings Seminar in World History


3107 FAB
Research Area
(313) 577-2525
(313) 577-6987
Office Hours
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