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Blair A. Ruble

Distinguished Fellow

Professional affiliation

Former Wilson Center Vice President for Programs (2014-2017); Director of the Comparative Urban Studies Program/Urban Sustainability Laboratory (1992-2017); Director of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (1989-2012) and Director of the Program on Global Sustainability and Resilience (2012-2014)
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Wilson Center Projects

“The Future of Cities”

Full Biography

Blair A. Ruble is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.  Previously he served as Vice President for Programs, (2014-2017), as well as Director of the Center’s Comparative Urban Studies Program /Urban Sustainability Laboratory (1992-2017), Director of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (1989-2012) and  Program on Global Sustainability and Resilience (2012-2014).

A native of New York, Dr. Ruble worked at the Social Science Research Council in New York City, as well as at the National Council for Soviet and East European Research in Washington before coming to the Woodrow Wilson Center.  He received his MA and PhD degrees in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and an AB degree with Highest Honors in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has lectured widely and has been a scholar/lecturer-in-residence at the Juridical Faculty of Leningrad State University, the Soviet Academy of Sciences), the Laboratoire de Geographie at the University of Paris-X (Nanterre), the Law Faculty of Kyoto University, and the Academia di architettura at the Università della Svizzera italiana (Mendrisio).

Dr. Ruble's latest work, The Muse of Urban Delirium, examines how new forms of performing arts emerge at moments of uncertain social identity in cities undergoing rapid transformation.  His earlier book-length volumes include: Washington’s U Street: A Biography;  Creating Diversity Capital , and a trilogy examining the fate of Russian provincial cities during the twentieth century: Leningrad. Shaping a Soviet City ; Money Sings!; and, Second Metropolis.   Several of these books have appeared in translation.

Dr. Ruble’s more than twenty edited works with several partners include: Jazz in Washington, Urban Diversity, and Preparing for the Urban Future.  His scholarly  articles have appeared in the American publications Urban Anthropology, Journal of Urban History and Washington History, as well as in France's Annales, Economies, Societies, Civilisations, Japan's Ima Naze Toshika, Britain's Planning Perspectives and Urban Studies, Russia's Chelovek, Arkhitekton, Moskovskii zhurnal, Zvezda, and the Soviet-era Leningradskaia panorama.

Dr. Ruble has published in the opinion pages of Newsweek, The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Afro-American, and USA Today.  His media appearances include "ABC Evening News," "BBC International News," "CBC Morning News," "CBS Evening News," "NBC's The Today Show," “The Kojo Nnambi Show,” “The Charlie Rose Show,” Russian NTV's news magazine "Itogi," Japanese NHK's morning news on television, as well as "The Larry King Radio Show," and several Voice of America broadcasts.

Major Publications

•             The Muse of Urban Delirium.  How the Performing Arts Paradoxically Transform Conflict-Ridden Cities into Centers of Cultural Innovation.  Washington: New Academia Publishers, 2017

•            Washington's U Street: A Biography, (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010)

•             Creating Diversity Capital: Transnational Migrants in Montreal, Washington, and Kyiv (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005)

•             Second Metropolis: The Politics of Pragmatic Pluralism in Gilded Age Chicago, Silver Age Moscow, and Meiji Osaka (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001)

•             Money Sings: The Politics of Urban Space in Post-Soviet Yaroslavl (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University Press, 1995)

•             Leningrad: Shaping a Soviet City (University of California Press, 1990)