Doctoral Candidate in History; Museum Studies Certificate Program
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Albert Cavallaro received his Bachelor of Arts in History and English from The College of New Jersey in 2015. He then enjoyed a brief career as an "insurance archaeologist" before receiving a Master of Arts in Global Studies (Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2019.
Albert's dissertation forms two interlocking microhistories examining the intertwined trajectories of two 19th century Russian imperial museums: the Tver Historical Museum, which opened in provincial Tver in 1866, and the National Museum of Turkestan, which opened in colonial, Central Asian Tashkent in 1876. Following these museums from their founding to 1917, his study puts the empire’s colonies and provinces into direct conversation for the first time to show how geographically dispersed but intellectually connected communities engaged in related meaning-making projects. His research operates on three scales: the local, imperial, and global. At the local scale, he examines travelogues, memoirs, provincial newspapers, and exhibition materials to reconstruct the daily life of museums’ employees and visitors. At the imperial scale, his dissertation explores various literary works and publications of archaeological and ethnographic societies to argue that intellectuals in Moscow and St. Petersburg apprehended provincial and colonial sites in remarkably similar terms: as places of exploitation, where raw materials could be collected and sent to the center. At the global scale, he considers how museums, a new European technology, were involved in networks of knowledge production beyond the empire. His dissertation shows these museums engaged in a single project to historicize and create proper models of Russian citizenship and nation. Imperial officials simultaneously claimed affinity with Europe and sought to “Europeanize” museum visitors, and, by extension, the empire itself.
For better or worse, he has also recently begun reading the works of Nikolai Fedorov (1829-1903): a Russian thinker famous for the (im)modest goals of wanting to bring back all the dead and colonize the cosmos.
Research Languages: Russian, Uzbek, Chaghatay