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Russell Zanca

Former Title VIII Short Term Scholar


    July 11, 2022 — August 9, 2022

    Professional affiliation

    Professor, Department of Anthropology, Northeastern Illinois University

    Wilson Center Projects

    "Central Eurasian Steppe Communities and the Future for Pastoralism in Kazakhstan.”

    Full Biography

    Russell Zanca is professor of anthropology at Northeastern Illinois University and visiting professor at the University of Chicago’s Center for Eurasian, East European and Russian Studies. He specializes in formerly Soviet Central Asia. His research interests include human ecology, political anthropology, rural life, economic and household studies, culinary anthropology and pastoralism. His first book, Life in a Muslim Uzbek Village: Cotton Farming after Communism was the first published Anglophone ethnography concerning rural Uzbekistan. Zanca also co-edited Everyday Life in Central Asia Past and Present with historian Jeff Sahadeo. This book has served as a primer-of-sorts for the first post-Soviet generation of U.S. college students about numerous aspects of Central Asian cultures and histories. Zanca has contributed his ideas and analyses of Central Asian events and policies to mass media and international institutions during the past 25 years, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the UNHCR, USAID and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. For the duration of his STG, Zanca is researching Kazakhstan’s pastoralist areas with intentions to initiate a long-term fieldwork project in the late spring of 2023 with colleagues from the University of Zurich and Nazarbayev University (Nur-Sultan, KZ). Zanca earned his doctorate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.