Ronald G. Suny

Research field: imperialism, historiography

Institution: University of Michigan

Position: professor emeritus

Group: The role of history and memory in exiting extreme and mass violence: comparative lessons

Biography :


RONALD GRIGOR SUNY is the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History and Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan; Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago; and Senior Researcher, National Research University- Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, Russia. The grandson of the composer and ethnomusicologist Grikor Mirzaian Suni and a graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University, he taught at Oberlin College (1968-1981), as visiting professor of history at the University of California, Irvine (1987), and Stanford University (1995-1996). He was the first holder of the Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern Armenian History at the University of Michigan (1981-1995), where he founded and directed the Armenian Studies Program. Professor Suny has served as chairman of the Society for Armenian Studies and on the editorial boards of Slavic Review, International Labor and Working-Class History, International Journal of Middle East Studies, The Armenian Review, Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies, Armenian Forum, and Ab Imperio. He was elected President of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies for the year 2006. He has appeared numerous times on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour, CBS Evening News, CNN, RTTV, Voice of America, and National Public Radio, and has written for the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, New Left Review, Dissent, and other newspapers and journals. He has twice been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (2001-2002, 2005-2006) and has received both the National Endowment for the Humanities Grant and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. In 2005 the Middle East Studies Association awarded Professor Suny and his co-organizer, Professor Fatma Műge Göçek of the University of Michigan, its academic freedom prize for their work in bringing Armenian and Turkish scholars together to further study of the Armenian Genocide. In 2013 Professor Suny was awarded the ASEEES 2013 Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Award and the Berlin Prize, an appointment as Anna-Marie Kellen Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin (January-May 2014). Professor Suny’s intellectual interests have centered on the non-Russian nationalities of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, particularly those of the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia). The “national question” was an area of study that was woefully neglected for many decades until peoples of the periphery mobilized themselves in the Gorbachev years. His aim has been to consider the history of imperial Russia and the USSR without leaving out the non-Russian half of the population, to see how multi-nationality, processes of imperialism and nation-making shaped the state and society of that vast country. This in turn has led to work on the nature of empires and nations, studies in the historiography and methodology of studying social and cultural history, and a commitment to bridging the often-unbridgeable gap between the traditional concerns of historians and the methods and models of other social scientists. Ron Suny was married to pianist Armena Marderosian (1949-2012), had a son Grikor Martiros Suni (1978-1980), and has two daughters, the biologist Dr. Sevan Siranoush Suni and anthropologist Anoush Tamar Suni. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with two cats.