25 Years of Russian-German Research by Northwestern’s Social Sciences Chair Cited in New Book

January 24, 2024

The 25 years of published academic research on Russian-Germans completed by Dr. Eric J. Schmaltz, chair of Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Department of Social Sciences, co-executive director of the endowed Institute for Citizenship Studies and professor of history, is cited within the first pages and a few other of the chapters of the recent book “Russian-Germans on Four Continents: Histories of a Global Diaspora.”  

Schmaltz joins ten scholars across three continents contributing to this volume edited by contributors Dr. Anna Flack, Dr. Jan Musekamp, Dr. Jannis Panagiotidis and Dr. Hans-Christian Petersen and published by international academic publisher Lexington Books in December 2023. Petersen visited Schmaltz and the Northwestern campus in September 2022 during his own research for the book.

“It is truly an international collaborative effort,” said Schmaltz. “The editors and contributing authors come not only from a wide range of disciplines, but also from various countries in Europe and North and South America.”

Schmaltz also authored a chapter in the book titled, “The Transnational Exchange of Ideas: The Russian-German Dissident and Emigration Movement’s Impact on Soviet Domestic and Foreign Policy (1972-1987),” incorporating primary and secondary sources from the English, German and Russian languages in his research.

Schmaltz seeks to emphasize this significant Russian-German diaspora group’s international reach amid the simultaneous growth of nationalism, national self-determination, or identity politics and accelerating integration and globalization during the final stages of the Cold War.

“This nationality group by 1989 had represented the 15th largest out of more than 120 recognized ethnic categories in the Soviet Union,” Schmaltz said. “In the ‘Age of Extremes’ of the past century, including two world wars, several political revolutions, and a series of international mass migrations, the contemporary paradox of ethnic particularism and globalization feeding off of each other has made itself more manifest. Most people today don’t fully comprehend the dizzying array of interrelated developments.” 

Many of Schmaltz’s publications in the fields of migration, ethnic and nationality studies concern ethnic German communities in Russia, the former Soviet Union and their many descendants dispersed worldwide. A number of these descendants immigrated to Colorado, Kansas, the Texas Panhandle, and here in northwest Oklahoma at the turn of the 19th century. Schmaltz’s work also has overlapped with Holocaust and comparative genocide studies. In pursuit of his research, Schmaltz has visited émigré communities in Germany, former ethnic German villages in Ukraine, and current German from Russia communities in Argentina.

“A good deal of my research findings originated in my master’s and doctoral graduate days in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” Schmaltz said. “Over time, I have been able to gain additional perspectives and even branch out on certain key topics, building on my previous work.”

Schmaltz also has received a handful of invitations to speak on these topics in 2024.

“In more recent years, about 80 to 90 percent of my speaking commitments come by invitation,” he said. “Typically, I give anywhere from two to four talks per year, having become a little more selective in the number that I pursue now. Sometimes publication and other project opportunities will arise from such gatherings in collaboration with scholars. As I get older, I try to balance time and energy both at home and at work with some of my anticipated longer-term editing and publishing projects.”

Schmaltz's first speaking engagement will be the 54th annual international conference for the Oklahoma City and North Texas Chapters of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) in Oklahoma City in early August 2024. He will provide an overview of German from Russia settlement patterns in both Oklahoma and Texas from the 1880s to the 1920s, along with brief observations on more recent group developments on the Southern Plains.

 The Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies based at the University of Wisconsin in Madison has invited Schmaltz to speak at their proposed “German-Speakers from Russia Transnationalism and Diaspora Symposium” around mid-September 2024. He is planning to summarize his recent article on the international efforts of ethnic Germans in Europe, Central Asia, and North America and others to advance autonomy and emigration rights in the USSR during the 1970s and 1980s.

Dr. Eric J. Schmaltz, chair of Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Department of Social Sciences

Third, arrangements are underway to host Schmaltz at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, as its featured speaker around late October 2024. The Menno Simons Lecture Series Committee at Bethel College will be hosting its annual event that promotes the work of scholars and church leaders relating to Anabaptist-Mennonite history, thought, and culture.

Established in 1950 by the John P. and Carolina Schrag Kaufman family, the Menno Simons Lecture Series is the oldest and most distinguished lecture series on the Bethel College campus. Bethel College also stands as the oldest Mennonite institution of higher learning in North America. Three presentations are planned for this traditional gathering, though what topics will be included for the two public presentations and the one campus undergraduate engagement are still in progress. It is likely, though, that Schmaltz will discuss the legacy of Mennonite migrations to Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries, and their subsequent migrations from Russia and the Soviet Union to North and South America in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Questions about Schmaltz’s research and upcoming talks may be directed to him at ejschmaltz@nwosu.edu.

For more information on the Northwestern Department of Social Sciences visit https://www.nwosu.edu/school-of-arts-and-sciences/social-sciences.

Dr. Eric J. Schmaltz 

Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Department of Social Sciences Chair

Co-Executive Director of the endowed Institute for Citizenship Studies

Professor of History


Sean J. Doherty, University Relations Specialist
sjdoherty@nwosu.edu, 580-327-8480

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