PD Dr. Stefan B. Kirmse

Senior Research Fellow and Research Coordinator

Phone: +49-(0)30-80307-220 E
Regional focus: Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, Caucasus
PD Dr. Stefan B. Kirmse
PD Dr. Stefan B. Kirmse


Since 03/2016
Senior Research Fellow and research coordinator at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin
11/2015 - 02/2016
Foreign Visitor Fellow at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center (SRC), Hokkaido University, Sapporo/Japan
2013 - 2014
Research Fellow at Department of East European history, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; coordinator of Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 640.
2012 - 2013
“Legal Cultures” fellow at Forum Transregionale Studien Berlin
2008 - 2012
Research Fellow at the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 640, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; responsible for the comparative unit Russia in the subproject “ceremonial education”


2017 - 2018
Habilitation (German professorial exam) in Modern History, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
2003 - 2009
PhD in Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London; doctoral thesis: “Youth in post-Soviet Central Asia: Transition, Globalization and Youth Culture in the Ferghana Valley”
2001 - 2003
Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Russian and East European Studies, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford; courses on Russian and Soviet history, Soviet Central Asia and Islam; masters thesis: “Islamic Radicalism in Central Asia: The Implications of Different Institutional Settings in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan” (with distinction)
1999 - 2000
Gorky Institute, Moscow (year abroad; part of the B.A.); main focus: Russian politics and history, history of the Caucasus, Chechnya.
1997 - 2001
B.A. in European Studies, Trinity College, University of Dublin; main focus: modern European, Russian, and Soviet history, sociology, theory of nationalism and (post-) colonialism, history of Central Asia
Abitur, Marienschule der Ursulinen, Bielefeld



The Lawful Empire. Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Tsarist Russia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2022 (paperback), 2019 (hardback).

Youth and Globalization in Central Asia: Everyday Life between Religion, Media, and International Donors. Frankfurt and New York: Campus, 2013.

Edited Volumes

(Ed.) One Law for All? Western Models and Local Practices in (post-) Imperial Contexts. Frankfurt and New York: Campus, 2012.

(Ed.) Youth in the former Soviet South: Everyday Lives between Experimentation and Regulation. London: Routledge, 2011 (reprinted in paperback in 2016).

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

“Internationalist Nation-Builders: Youth under Brezhnev in the Soviet South”, in: Europe-Asia Studies 74:7 (2022), 1254-1277,

„Territorial Organisation and Autonomy in Russian History”, ZMO Working Papers No. 34 (2022), pp. 1-13.

In Defense of Land and Faith. Muslim Tatars between Confrontation and Accommodation in Late Imperial Russia, in: Acta Slavica Iaponica 40 (2020), pp. 169-192.

Sleepy Side Alleys, Dead Ends, and the Perpetuation of Eurocentrism - Review Essay on The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law, in: European Journal of International Law 25:1 (2014), pp. 307-311,

Law and Interethnic Relations in the Russian Empire: The Tatar Riots of 1878 and their Judicial Aftermath, in: Ab imperio 2013/4: pp. 49-77,

Law and Empire in Late Tsarist Russia. Muslim Tatars Go to Court, in: Slavic Review 72:4 (Winter 2013), pp. 778-801, .

Am Rande mittendrin: Globalisierte Jugend in Zentralasien, in: Osteuropa 63: 11-12 (November 2013), pp. 197-208,

New Courts in Late Tsarist Russia. On Imperial Representation and Muslim Participation, in: Journal of Modern European History 11:2 (2013), pp. 243-263.

“Law and Society” in Imperial Russia, InterDisciplines. Journal of History and Sociology 3:2 (Special issue “Law and Historiography: Contributions to a New Cultural History of Law”, 2012): pp. 103-134,

In the marketplace for styles and identities: globalization and youth culture in southern Kyrgyzstan, in: Central Asian Survey 29:4 (2010), pp. 389-403, .

Bridging the gap: the concept of 'youth' and the study of Central Asia and the Caucasus, in: Central Asian Survey 29:4 (2010), pp. 381-387.

Leisure, business and fantasy worlds: exploring donor-funded “youth spaces” in southern Kyrgyzstan, in: Central Asian Survey 28:3 (2009), pp. 289-301, .

Book Chapters

Raumkonzepte von Zentralasien: Ein historischer Überblick in: Jakob Lempp/Sebastian Mayer/Alexander Brand (eds.) Die politischen Systeme Zentralasiens. Interner Wandel, externe Akteure, regionale Kooperation. Springer VS: Wiesbaden 2020, pp. 19-39.

Youth in the Post-Soviet Space: Is the Central Asian Case Really so Different? in: Matthias Schwartz und Heike Winkel (eds.) Eastern European Youth Cultures in a Global Context. Basingstoke and New York 2016, pp. 335-360.

Dealing with Crime in Late Tsarist Russia: Muslim Tatars and the Imperial Legal System, in: Stefan B. Kirmse (ed.) One Law for All? Western Models and Local Practices in (Post-) Imperial Contexts. Frankfurt and New York: Campus, 2012.

“Nested Globalization” in Osh, Kyrgyzstan: Urban Youth Culture in a ‘Southern’ City, in T. Darieva, W. Kaschuba and M. Krebs (eds.) Urban Spaces after Socialism. Ethnographies of Public Places in Eurasian Cities. Frankfurt and New York, Campus: 2011, pp. 283-305.


Posts for the Legal History Blog (all in October 2020)

“The Lawful Empire: Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Imperial Russia”, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 8 April 2020,

Media articles and other publications

Alleingelassen am Aralsee. Blutige Unruhen in Karakalpakstan. In: Der Tagesspiegel, vol. 78, no. 24 970 (2. August 2022), p. 21. Online Version

Russlands Signal an Europa. In: Der Tagesspiegel, Jg. 77,  Nr. 24 705 (2. November 2021), Seite 18. Online Version

Von der Anfeindung zum Pogrom. Antisemitismus, die russische Revolution von 1905 und die Rolle der Polizei. Eine Warnung für heute. In: Der Tagesspiegel, vol. 76,  no. 24 392 (15 December 2020), p. 20. Online version.

Der russische Patient. Im Umgang mit der Corona-Pandemie macht Putins Russland eine sehr schlechte Figur. Schon 1892 zeigte sich das Zarenreich der Cholera kaum gewachsen. Die Grenzen der Staatsmacht offenbarten sich schon vor der Revolution. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22 May 2020, p. 8. Online version.

Alle Macht nach Moskau? Der russische Föderalismus und das Beispiel Tatarstan', in: Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ed.), Muslim Worlds - World of Islam? New Directions in Research (Berlin 2019), pp. 71-76. Short version in: Alle Macht nach Moskau? Der russische Föderalismus und das Beispiel Tatarstan, in: Zeitgeschichte-online, March 2018:

"Der Blick nach Süden. Globalisierung im Sozialismus". Öffentlicher Vortrag an der  Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Philosophische Fakultät, 17. Januar 2018.

“Neurussland – Geschichte, Gegenwart und Vision”, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Dezember 2014. In: Vision Europa 5/2014 (

Boiling over. Kyrgyzstan’s “Tulip Revolution” differs significantly from its Orange and Velvet counterparts, in: Oxford Forum 2005, no. 2, pp. 38-39.


Hartley, Janet. The Volga. A History of Russia’s Greatest River (New Haven 2021), in: Europe-Asia Studies 74 (2022), 5, 872-873, DOI: 10.1080/09668136.2022.2083308

Rampton, Vanessa: Liberal Ideas in Tsarist Russia. From Catherine the Great to the Russian Revolution. Cambridge 2020, in: H-Soz-Kult, 02/12/2020,

O’Neill, Kelly: Claiming Crimea. A History of Catherine the Great’s Southern Empire. New Haven 2017, in: H-Soz-Kult, 05/02/2019,

ExtendeHartley, Janet. The Volga. A History of Russia’s Greatest River (New Haven 2021), in: Europe-Asia Studies 74 (2022), 5, 872-873, DOI: 10.1080/09668136.2022.2083308 d review in Author-Critic Forum: “Under Solomon's Throne: Uzbek Visions of Renewal in Osh”, with Aisalkyn Botoeva, Ali Igmen, Morgan Liu & Marianne Kamp, in: Central Asian Survey 37: 1 (2018), pp. 160-171

Belge, Boris and Deuerlein, Martin (eds.) Goldenes Zeitalter der Stagnation? Tübingen 2014, in: H-Soz-Kult, 14/01/2016,

Lohr, Eric. Russian Citizenship: From Empire to Soviet Union (Cambridge, MA and London 2012), in: Law and History Review 33 (2015), 1, 261-263,

Raleigh, Donald. Soviet Baby Boomers. An Oral History of Russia's Cold War Generation (Oxford 2012), in: Europe-Asia Studies 66 (2014), 5, 835-836,

LaPierre, Brian. Hooligans in Khrushchev’s Russia. Defining, Policing, and Producing Deviance during the Thaw (Madison 2012), in:

Radnitz, Scott. Weapons of the Wealthy: Predatory Regimes and Elite-Led Protests in Central Asia, in: Europe-Asia Studies 64 (2012), 2, 375-377,

Yemelianova, Galina (eds.) Radical Islam in the Former Soviet Union, London 2009 (2010),

Nethercott, Frances. Russian Legal Culture Before and After Communism. Criminal Justice, Politics and the Public Sphere, London 2007 (2009),


Talks (selected)

„Jugend in der Breschnew-Zeit: Internationalismus und Nationalismus im sowjetischen Süden“, Colloquium „Neuere Forschungen zur Osteuropäischen Geschichte“, Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen, 4. July 2022

"Culture on Trial. Ritual Murder, Legality, and Justice in Late Imperial Russia", ZMO Workshop "Struggles for Justice, Past and Present. A Translocal Perspective", Berlin, 17. September 2021.

Book presentation "The Lawful Empire". Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, Center for Historical Research, “Boundaries of History” Forschungsseminar, 4. März 2021.

Die Revolution von 1905, anti-Jüdische Pogrome und der zarische 'Rechtsstaat' in der Schwarzmeerregion“, Forschungscolloquium von Prof. Dr. Oliver Janz, Freie Universität Berlin, 7 July 2020

(Keynote) Mobilization for and against the Soviet Regime, 27 February 2020, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena; at the conference “Youngsters’ Movements in Peripheralized Regions”

“Socialist Youth in the Soviet South. Between Mass Mobilization, Nationalism, and the Outside World”, workshop at Princeton University, "From Totalitarian to Authoritarian Rule: Comparing Dictatorships in Transition", Princeton NJ, USA, 10 March 2019.

"Comparing Imperial Borderlands. Law and Governance in Late 19th Century Crimea and Kazan”, Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) 19th Annual Conference, University of Pittsburgh, USA, 26 October 2018.

In Defense of Land and Faith: Rebellious Tatars Encountering State Officials in Late-Nineteenth Century Crimea and Kazan, 7 October 2017, University of Washington, Seattle, 18th Annual Conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society.

The Lawful Empire. Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Imperial Russia, 3 October 2017, University of Oregon, Eugene.

Muslim Rebellion in the Russian Empire. On the Power of Governors and the Ambiguities of the Late Imperial Rechtsstaat. State of Exception/ Ausnahmezustand: Joint Princeton University and Humboldt University workshop. Berlin, 11 June 2016.

A View from Russia's Borderlands: Potentials and Limits of Studying 19th-Century Legal Texts and Culture, Sapporo/Japan; symposium dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center (SRC) of Hokkaido University, 10 December 2015.

Politics of Memory in Central Asia and the Caucasus, Tbilisi/Georgia; invited by Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband (DVV) International and the Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur.

Gleiches Recht für alle? Muslime im späten Zarenreich, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, 18 December 2014.

Similarities and Differences between Young People's Lives in Central Asia,
"Youth in Kazakhstan" conference, Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University, Washington D.C., 21 April 2014.

Between Integration and Conflict: Muslim Tatars in Late Nineteenth-Century Russia, BASEES Annual Conference, Cambridge, UK, April 2014.

The Eurocentric Risk in the History of International Law, International Symposium, Humboldt University, 1 February 2013.

Why the Law is Wrong: A Comparative (and Controversial) Discussion, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, “Rechtskulturen”, 10 December 2012.

Police, Peasants, Property: Contested Territories and Legal Spaces in Late Imperial Russia, Quebec Network for Slavic Studies, Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada, May 2012.

Violence, Trials and Justice: Tatar Peasants and the Kazan Uprising of 1879, ASEEES Annual Conference, Washington D.C., November 2011.

Law and Empire in Late Tsarist Russia: Tatars Go to Court, American Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) Conference, Columbia University, New York, 16 April 2011

At the “Marketplace for Styles and Identities”: Youth between Transition, Globalization and Youth Culture in Southern Kyrgyzstan, October 2009, Annual Conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS), University of Toronto, Canada.

Looking North? Urban Youth Practices in a “Southern” City, September 2009, workshop “Urban Spaces: Caucasian Places: Transformations in Capital Cities”, Tbilisi State University, Institute for History and Ethnology, Georgia.

The Students of Osh and the Colonization of the New Associative Sphere, December 2008, workshop “The Transnationalization of Central Asia”, L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.

Post-Soviet Youth in a Globalizing World, November 2006, University of St Andrews, Central Asian Research Network.

Re-Islamization among the Students of Osh (Kyrgyz Republic), October 2005, Central Eurasian Studies Society, annual conference, Boston University, USA.

Islamic Radicalism in Central Asia: Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, October 2003, Central Eurasian Studies Society, annual conference, Harvard University, USA.

Consulting Work

Kyrgyzstan: Southern discontent poses major challenges, Oxford Analytica, Russia/CIS Daily Brief, 29 April 2005.

Kyrgyzstan: corruption unlikely to disappear soon, Oxford Analytica, Russia/CIS Daily Brief, 22 June 2005.

Central Asia/US: soft rhetoric reveals policy dilemma, Oxford Analytica, Russia/CIS Daily Brief, 20 October 2005. 

Doctoral Supervisions

Khadija Babayeva, „The Role of Satire in the Formation of a Secular Gender Identity: A Study of Azerbaijani Women in the Popular Media, 1870-1930“, Philosophische Fakultät der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (first supervisor, ongoing)

Kyara Klausmann, „Intellectual Debates, Enthusiastic Demonstrations, and Brutal Crackdowns. Political Activism at Kabul University during the Cold War, 1964-1992“, Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (second supervisor, completed)

Nazgul Mingisheva, „Globalization and Youth Culture in Kazakhstan“, L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Sociology Faculty, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan (formally appointed as “Foreign Scientific Advisor” for PhD thesis, ongoing).

Teaching Activities (all at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany)

Academic year 2022/23
Geschichte der Autonomie in Russland: Territoriale Ansprüche, Aushandlung und Herrschaft (Proseminar)
Academic year 2021/22
Zwischen Utopie und Realität. Die Rolle des Films in der Sowjetunion (Bachelor Seminar)
Academic year 2021
Maritime Träume. Das Zarenreich am Schwarzen und Kaspischen Meer, 1700-1917. (Bachelor Seminar)
Academic year 2019/20
The Borderlands of the Multiethnic Empire: Cultural Diversity and Imperialism in Tsarist Russia, 1552-1917 (lecture series)
Academic year 2018/19
Empire of Engineers? Science in Soviet Politics and Society (masters seminar, taught in English)
Academic year 2017/18
Dictatorships of the Present: Authoritarian Rule in the Post-Soviet Space (BA course)
Academic year 2016/17
Between Dictatorship, Stagnation and the “Golden Age”: The Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s (masters seminar, taught in English) Russia and the Bomb. The Nuclear Threat during the Cold War. Strategic Use and Popular Perception (BA course)
Academic year 2014/2015
“Tough men”. Emotion, Gender, and the Study of the Cold War (BA introductory course) “Homo Sovieticus”: Idea and Reality of the Soviet Being (masters seminar, taught in English)
Academic year 2013/14
Russian Rule in Crimea: Imperialism, Colonization, and Mass Tourism, 18th-20th centuries (BA course) Hipsters and Komsomoltsy: Youth and Youth Organizations in the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (BA course)
Academic year 2011/12
Religion and Nation in a Multiethnic Empire: Russia and the Soviet Union, 16th-20th centuries (BA course) The Socialist Experiment: Eastern Europe in the 20th century (BA course), taught jointly with three other members of staff
Academic year 2010/11
Police, Justice, and the Exile System: The Russian Empire between Law and Violence, 1649 – 1917 (BA course) Religion, Migration and "the West": Dimensions of Globalization in Central Asia (BA course, Department of Central Asian Studies)
Academic year 2009/10
Russia and her Muslims: Integration and Conflict in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union (BA course) Everyday Life in Central Asia: Between the Soviet Legacy, Transformation, and Globalization (BA course, Department of Central Asian Studies)

Awards and Scholarships

3-year Research Student Fellowship awarded by School of Oriental and African Studies, London, August 2003
Julian Kamensky Prize for Spoken Russian awarded by Trinity College Dublin, May 2001
5-year Non-Foundation Scholarship awarded by Trinity College Dublin in May 1999
Numerous travel and fieldwork grants


  • ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies)
  • Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS)
  • Law & Society Association (LSA)


  • German: native speaker
  • English: near-native fluency
  • Russian: near-native fluency
  • Uzbek, Kazakh, Ukrainian: reading knowledge