Oleg Kobtzeff

Associate Professor

  • Department: International and Comparative Politics
  • Complementary Department(s): History
  • Office: 
    G-L16
  • Office Hours: 
    Tuesdays & Fridays 9:45-11:45, and 14:15-15:00

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Franco-American with family ties to many frontier regions of Russia and the Ukraine, trained at the sorbonne, first by founders of the Annales school (mainly Pierre Chaunu), then François-Xavier Coquin, Professor Kobtzeff's pluri-disciplinary and multi-faceted work is a study of the interface of civilizations and their relationship with their natural environments. Familiarity with French, American and Slavic geographic research lead to first assignments: the CNES (French space agency), the US National Parks Service, and scientific institutions in Alaska where he lived for four years in an indigenous community, co-founded a museum, and became involved, as an educator or journalist, in the problems of multi-cultural societies, borderlands, and management of maritime resources, discovering how a remote area becomes a crossroads of global forces. After more comparative research in Italy (as acting director of the Gogol Library) and France (faculty member of the Sorbonne and the Collège de France) he began travelling extensively across Central and Eastern Europe and the Arctic regions, producing publications and teaching on international competition or cooperation in fields ranging from war, the environment, or outer-space, to human rights and identity.



Education/Degrees

B.A. and M.A. in history, Université de Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV)
B.Th., Institut de Théologie Orthodoxe Saint Serge (Paris)
D.E.A. in history, Université de Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I)
Ph.D. in East European studies, Université de Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I)

News

  • Appearances on French national radio and TV, approximately once a month, since the beginning of the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts.
  • Editor in chief (and co-author): The Geostrategic Maritime Review (published by L'Harmattan), for Issue 7 (the Arctic Ocean) and Issue 8 (the Baltic Sea).

Publications

Editorial positions
  • Publisher, assistant éditor, columnist, The Kodiak Fisherman - regional monthly 36-page magazine (tabloid format) ; circulation : 4000, 40% advertisement
  • Co-editor, Hall Gardner & Oleg Kobtzeff, eds., The Ashgate Research Companion to War, Farnham: Ashgate: London, 2012 
  • Assistant editor, Gardner, Hall, (ed.), Central and South-central Europe in Transition, Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2000.
  • Faculty supervisor, Scripta Politica et Economica, American University of Paris scholarly faculty-student publication
  • Creator of Nature & Cultures, quarterly educational magazine  (geography,  environment, ethnography, history)
  • Member of board of editors for Boréales (pluri-disciplinary academic journal on Nordic studies), French Center for Nordic Studies, Journal of Eurasian Politics & Society
  • Reviewer for Inter-Nord, Alaskan History, Revue d’Etudes Slaves
  • Credited consultant for William W. Fitzhugh and Aron Cromwell, Crossroads of Continents, Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988
Monographs
  • La Colonization russe en Amérique du Nord: 18 - 19 ème siècles (Russian Colonization in North-America, 18th-19th Centuries) Paris, University of Panthéon- Sorbonne, 1985, xxxvi + 585 pages + Illus. + Maps. New revised and augmented edition in English in preparation for release in 2014.
  • Beginning Russian. Barron's, N.Y., 1996; also published in Finnish, Spanish and 4 French editions—3rd edition Initiation: russe—on Amazon.fr bestselling list for several months in 2003-2004, N°6 of all books on tape).
Articles in peer-reviewed publications
  • "Kodiak:  île américaine, île russe", in Catherine Géry & Dominique Samson, eds., Mélanges en l’honneur d’Anne-Victoire Charrin, Paris: Institut des Langues Orientales,  (to be released in late 2013).
  • "Pour le monde mais pas de ce monde: un homme simple dans un monde compliqué", in-La joie du Royaume, Actes du colloque International l'héritage du père Alexandre Schmemann (Paris 11-14 décembre 2008), sous la direction de André Lossky, Cyrille Sollogoub et Daniel Struve, Paris: YMCA Press, 2012, pp. 34-38
  • "Gwenn A. Miller: Kodiak Kreol", Cahiers du monde russe [En ligne], 51/4 | 2010
  • "General Introduction. Polemology" (co-authored with Hall Gardner), in Hall Gardner & Oleg Kobtzeff, eds., The Ashgate Research Companion to War, Farnham: Ashgate, 2012, pp. 1-31
  • "Age of Progress or ‘Age of Extremes’? The Escalation of Warfare in Modern Times and the Nature of its Mutation”, in Hall Gardner & Oleg Kobtzeff, eds., The Ashgate Research Companion to War, Farnham: Ashgate, 2012, pp. 99-130
  • "Time of Troubles: War in an Age of Planetary Upheaval, From the End of the Middle Ages to 1648" in Hall Gardner & Oleg Kobtzeff, eds., The Ashgate Research Companion to War, Farnham: Ashgate, 2012, pp.  229-250
  • "Totalitarian Times—Total War, Global War: the Roots of World War II and the Nature of the Conflict", in Hall Gardner & Oleg Kobtzeff, eds., The Ashgate Research Companion to War, Farnham: Ashgate, 2012 , pp. 337-370
  • “Belgrade, Moscow and Washington in the War of Kosovo: Dispelling the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ Myth”, in Hall Gardner & Oleg Kobtzeff, eds., The Ashgate Research Companion to War, Farnham: Ashgate, 2012, pp.  433-442
  • “Espaces et cultures du Bassin de la Neva : représentations mythiques et réalités géopolitiques, in Walter Zidaric, ed., Saint-Petersbourg : 1703-2003, Actes du Colloque international, Université de Nantes, mai 2003, Nantes: Centre de Recherches sur  les Identités Nationales et l’Interculturalité, 2004
  • “Environmental Security and Civil Society”, in- Gardner, Hall, ed., Central and South-central Europe in Transition, Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2000, pp. 219-296.
  • “Au-delà de la Sibérie: l'Eglise Orthodoxe et les Indigènes de l'Alaska” (Beyond Siberia : The Orthodox Church and the Indigenous People of Alaska), in - Chichlo, Boris, ed., Sibérie II, Paris: Institut des Etudes Slaves, 1999, pp. 133-148
  • “The Forgotten Religion: the Geopolitics of the Orthodox world”, Scripta Politica et Economica, vol. XIII, N° 1, November 1996, pp. 10-11, 26.
  • “Dwindling democracy (The Russian presidential election)”, Scripta Politica et Economica, vol. XII, N° 3, March 1996, pp. 7-9.
  • “L'Evêque et le chamane” (The Bishop and the Shaman), in - Charrin-Pochtar, Anne-Victoire, (ed.), Les Sibériens, special issue N° 78 of Autrement, Paris, 1995, pp. 80-93.
  • “Map of Russian America in the 1800s”, Alaska Magazine, October 1988, vol. 54, N° 10, pp. 20-21 (first complete map of Russian colonies in 19th century N. America).
  • “Ruling Siberia: the imperial power, the Orthodox Church and the Native people”, Siberica, British Siberian Studies Seminar, vol. II, 1984, pp. 6-15. (favorably reviewed by David Collins in Siberia: A Select, Annotated Bibliography of English Language Works Relating to Siberia and the Soviet Far East, Oxford, Denver, Santa Barbara: Clio Press, 1991).
  • “La Colonisation russe en Amérique du Nord : 18-19ème siècles”, Boréales, N° 36-37, 1985, pp. 75-78.
  • “Environmental Security and Civil Society”, in- Gardner, Hall, ed., Central and South-central Europe in Transition, Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2000, pp. 219-296. Favorably reviewed in Marek Payerhin, "Transitions and Environment in Poland”, An Annotated Bibliography for the Post-Secondary Curriculum Development Project prepared for the University of Michigan’s Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, http://www.umich.edu/~iinet/crees/pdf/Payerhin1.pdf.
  • “Au-delà de la Sibérie: l'Eglise Orthodoxe et les Indigènes de l'Alaska” (Beyond Siberia : The Orthodox Church and the Indigenous People of Alaska), in - Chichlo, Boris, ed., Sibérie II, Paris: Institut des Etudes Slaves, 1999, pp. 133-148 favorably reviewed in James Forsyth, Reviewed work(s): Siberie II: Questions siberiennes: Histoire, cultures, litterature by Boris Chichlo, Slavic Review, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Autumn, 2000), pp. 660-661. Article Stable:  “one of the most interesting essays [of the volume]”).
  • “Holocauste en URSS: un héritage sanglant”, Enquête sur l'Histoire, N° 22, Août-Sept., 1997, pp. 14-17.
  • “The Forgotten Religion: the Geopolitics of the Orthodox world”, Scripta Politica et Economica, vol. XIII, N° 1, November 1996, pp. 10-11, 26.
  • “Dwindling democracy (The Russian presidential election)”, Scripta Politica et Economica, vol. XII, N° 3, March 1996, pp. 7-9.
  • “L'Evêque et le chamane” (The Bishop and the Shaman), in - Charrin-Pochtar, Anne-Victoire, (Ed.), Les Sibériens, special issue N° 78 of Autrement, Paris, 1995, pp. 80-93.
  • "Les Chiffres du Goulag. Un révisionnisme rampant”, Enquête sur l'Histoire, N° 9, Août-Sept., 1994, pp. 46-48.
  • “Ruling Siberia: the imperial power, the Orthodox Church and the Native people”, Siberica, British Siberian Studies Seminar, vol. II, 1984, pp. 6-15. (favorably reviewed by David Collins in Siberia (A Select, Annotated Bibliography of English Language Works Relating to Siberia and the Soviet Far East), Oxford, Denver, Santa Barbara: Clio Press, 1991.
  • “La Colonisation russe en Amérique du Nord : 18-19ème siècles”, Boréales, N° 36-37, 1985, pp. 75-78.
Manuscripts submitted to peer-reviewed journals
  • "From the shores of America to the shores of the Baltic: the extreme frontiers of Russia"
  • “ ‘Créoles’. From the Gulf of Mexico to Far North Pacific: the Surprising Migration of a Word", Fondation des Etats-Unis, Paris.
  • “ How Russian Colonization Works: the Case of Russian America”
  • “ Emmigration and Historic Methodology: the Diasporas from Russia, in Paris and Other Places”
Editorials and journalistic publications
  • "La deuxième guerre de Corée aura-t-elle lieu?", Huffington Post-francophone edition,  2013
  • "Quel avenir pour le Parti Républicain?", Huffington Post-francophone edition, 7 Nov. 2012
  •  "De la "dictature de la médiocrité" à une intensification de la vie politique américaine. Ce qui a déjà changé en 2012 à la veille des résultats", Huffington Post-francophone edition, 6 Nov. 2012 (bilan de la campagne présidentiuelle US à la veille des résultats; prédit une victoire d'Obama grâce à l'électorat des swing states).
  • "The Arctic: A New Mediterranean?", Nature and Cultures, issue 1, Spring 2013
  • "Zoos: Who Needs Them?" (co-écrit sous le pseudonyme "Alan Aftonfalker", avec l'assistance de Yaroslav Rovenskih ),  Nature and Cultures, issue 1, Fall 2012
  • "Obama: l'heure du bilan", Huffington Post-francophone edition, 6 Sept. 2012
  • "Fin de la convention républicaine: à Tampa, une Amérique morose", Huffington Post-francophone edition, 31 Août 2012
  • "L'affaire Pussy Riot: un simple chahut qui dégénère en intifada juridique et culturelle", Huffington Post-francophone edition, 18 Août 2012
  • "Les Hirondelles font-elles le printemps russe"? Huffington Post-francophone edition, 14 février 2012
  • “Holocauste en URSS: un héritage sanglant”, Enquête sur l'Histoire, N° 22, Août-Sept., 1997, pp. 14-18
  • "Les Chiffres du Goulag. Un révisionnisme rampant", Enquête sur l'Histoire, N° 9, Août-Sept., 1994, pp. 46-48.
  • "Préface", Mike Rostad & Larry Matfay, Time to Dance, Anchorage, 1988.
  • “Map of Russian America in the 1800s”, Alaska Magazine, October 1988, vol. 54, N° 10, pp. 20-21 (first map ever published, showing all Russian settlements from Siberia to California).
Translations
  • From French and Russian into English: Script + interviews and dialogue, English version of Reflets de la danse: le Kirov (The Kirov ballet theater), French national TV channel TF1 production, nominated for Emmy award—best foreign documentary.
  • From French into English: Rupnik, Jacques: “In Search of Central Europe: Ten Years Later”, in Gardner, Hall, (ed.), Central and South-central Europe in Transition, Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2000.
  • From English into French: Khodarkovsky, M., “Découverte, invasion, rencontre”, in - Charrin-Pochtar, Anne-Victoire, ed., Les Sibériens, special issue N° 78 of Autrement, Paris, 1995, pp. 64-80.
  • Theodore S. Greenberg, Linda M. Samuel, Wingate Grant, & Larissa Gray, Stolen Asset Recovery: A Good Practices Guide for Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture, Washington DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, 2009. (co-translator with Gleb Store)

Conferences & Lectures

Organizer of conferences, steering committee positions
  • 2011: co-organizer Première of French-language version of documentary of “Gulag: the Secret Story” (public screening, press conference and debate), American U. of Paris
  • 2007: initiator, organizer: Panel: “The Geopolitics of Extreme Environments. Part 2: The Arctic regions”, held in November at the American Universtity of Paris. Guest speakers: Jim Bitterman, CNN Paris bureau chief, Joëlle Robert-Lamblin, Arctic explorer, etc.
  • 2007: initiator, organizer: Panel: “The Geopolitics of Extreme Environments. Part 1: Outer Space”, held in October at the American Universtity of Paris. Guest speakers: various representatives of Air and space industries and science
  • 2004: Steering committee member for March 25-27, University of Nantes international conference on “Broken Borders”: border regions – crucible of identities
  • 2001: chair panel on Central and Eastern Europe, New World, New Europe, New Threats: NATO andthe European Union in the New Millennium, conference organized by NATO and the American U. of Paris, December 7-8, French Senate.
  • 1998: Location coordinator, Mickiewicz, la France, l’Europe bicentennial conference and celebrations, Collège de France and Polish Library of Paris, Dec. 17-19.
  • 1998: Moderator, The forgotten victims: refugees in camps in Bosnia, panel discussion with Said Zulficar (UNESCO) and Claire Boulanger (Médecins du Monde), American U. of Paris, November 16.
  • 1997: Initiator , organizer, chair, public lecture and debate with Anatoly Sobchak, Mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia; American University of Paris, March 10th.
  • 1996: Initiator , organizer, chair, “1945-1995: a Half-century of Geopolitics in the North Pacific”, conference, American University of Paris, April 1.
  • 1996: 60° N: Alaska-Carélie, personal exhibit of photos from geographic and ethnographi expeditions, l’Astrolabe Gallery (oldest geographic bookstore Latin Quarter), Paris.
  • 1996: member of steering committee, co-author of catalog and exhibit contributor, From Moscow to Constantinople international conference and exhibition, Nov. 14 to Dec.15, Hellenic Foundation, London; (organized by Byzantine Society, Oxford University).
  • 1995: member of steering committee, translator, panel, The Past, Present and the Future of the Conflict in the Former Yugoslavia, American University of Paris, May 11.
  • 1993: Initiator , organizer, chair, panel, The Environment in the ex-USSR: University of Paris, December 10.
  • 1988: member of steering committee, first international conference on the history and anthropology of the Koniag people, Kodiak Area Native Association, Kodiak, Alaska.
  • 1985: Initiator , organizer, Grand opening of Veniaminov Institute Museum, July, Kodiak, Alaska, followed by series of lectures and slide shows (approximately 50) for tourists and locals (covered statewide by radio and TV).
speaking engagements
regular radio & TV political talk-show panelist
  • On France 24 Télévision and Radio France-International (average: once every two months), and Radio Algérie (channel 3 — average: monthly); appeared occasionally on half of French and Russian national TV channels, Radio Algérie-International, France Culture, France Inter and (shows available online at or by searching “Kobtzeff” – “videos” through any internet search motor). Debated with leading journalists and government members (including French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-François Deniau)
conference papers
  • 2012: “John Meyendorff: his significance for historiography”, international conference on John Meyendorff, St. Sergius Theological Institute, Paris, February
  • 2010: “The Equal Rights Amendment: Why it is Just and Necessary”, Democrats Abroad conference in Paris, held at the American U. of Paris
  • 2009: “Alexander Schmemann:”, international conference on Alexander Schmemann, St. Sergius Theological Institute, Paris, december.
  • 2007: Keynote speech, panel on “The Geopolitics of Extreme Environments. Part 1: Outer Space” held in October at the American Universtity of Paris.
  • 2004: “From the shores of America to the shores of the Baltic: the extreme frontiers of Russia”, March 25-27, University of Nantes international conference on “Broken Borders”: border regions – crucible of identities.
  • 2003:  “Space and cultures of the Neva Basin : mythical representations and geopolitical situations”, University of Nantes 300th anniversary conference and Nantes-St. Petersburg twinning ceremonies, May 16-19.
  • 2003:  “The geography of the Saint Petersburg region”, Parsons School of design
  • 2003:  “Frances’s culture of the outdoors”, Annual conference of the Royal Geographic Society, London, September 3-5.
  • 2001:  “Emigration and Historic Methodology: the Diasporas from Russia, in Paris and Other Places”, 150th Anniversary of the Turgenev Library in Paris Conference (Paris et l’immigration russe), French Senate, Jan. 18-20, 2001.
  • 1999:  “The Russian Orthodox Church as a multi-national Church: the experience of Russian America”, Sept. 10, 3rd International Conference on Russian America, Academy of Sciences, Moscow.
  • 1999:   “Russia’s involvement in Kosovo”, Russia in the 21st century, Conference, American University of Paris, April 13.
  • 1998:   “Religion in the Former Peoples’ Republics”, Reformed Church of Paris academic circle, rue de Grenelle (diplomatic quarter of Paris), March 17.
  • 1996:  “The Geopolitics of the Pacific North-West”, 1945-1995: a Half-century of Geopolitics in the North Pacific, conference, American University of Paris, April 1.
  • 1995: Anchorman: Paris City Hall music festival, live broadcast on France-Musique (French national radio)
  • 1993:  “Environmental Problems as a Political Issue in Eastern Europe Today”, The Environment in the ex-USSR: debate, American University of Paris, December 10.
  • 1993: “Russian America”, informal assembly of students and professors organized by Russian Academy of Sciences Prof. Emelyanov, Moscow, Aug. 20.
  • 1991: TESTIMONIAL: St. Paul Basilica, Rome (sharing microphone with Pope John-Paul II), February
  • 1989: TESTIMONIAL: St. Paul Basilica, Rome (sharing microphone with Pope John-Paul II), broadcast live on Italian national television, February
  • 1988:  “The Koniag’s Russian Heritage”, first international conference on the history and anthropology of the Koniag people, Kodiak Area Native Association, Kodiak, Alaska.
  • 1987:  “How Russian Colonization Works: the Case of Russian America”, 2nd International conference on Russian America, August, Sitka, Alaska, (organized by the US National Parks Service & the State of Alaska).
  • 1986:  “Ivan-Innokentiiy Veniaminov and the Russian Frontier”, 13th annual meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association, March, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
  • 1985:  “Ruling Siberia: the Imperial Power, the Orthodox Church and the Native People”, British Siberian Studies Seminar annual conference, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University, March.
  • 1983:  “Au-delà de la Sibérie: L’Eglise Orthodoxe et les indigènes de l’Alaska”, First International Conference on Siberia, Institut d’Etudes Slaves, Paris, May 24-27.
  • 1982:  “Ruling Siberia: the imperial power, the Orthodox Church and the Native people”, British Siberian Studies Seminar conference, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge

Affiliations

Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society

Research Areas

Regions studied (deep immersion field experience)
  • St. Petersburg and Carelia
  • Russian, frontiers and borders: Finland, Alaska,Ukraine
  • Nordic and Arctic regions
  • Mordova Autonomous Republic
  • Ukraine
  • Black Sea
  • Britanny
  • The Alps
  • Paris
Research interests
  • Russian, French and Anglo-Saxon history of social sciences (particularly geography and anthropology
  • Ethnic and religious diversity, identities
  • Geopolitics of extreme environments (marine, polar, air & space)
  • Geopolitics of the environment
  • Human rights

Curriculum Vitae