Nick completed a BA Joint Honours in History and Modern Languages (German) and an MPhil in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Oxford. In 2001 he received his PhD in History from the University of Birmingham. His doctoral thesis, written under the supervision of Prof. R.W. Davies and Dr. E.A. Rees, and funded by an ESRC Research Associateship and then ESRC Studentship, was titled 'Soviet Karelia, 1920-1937. A Study of Space and Power in Stalinist Russia'.
From 1999-2004, Nick was a Research Fellow (from 2002, Senior Research Fellow) at the University of Manchester on an AHRC project on post-First World War population displacements, under the direction of Prof. Peter Gatrell. Nick took up a post at the University of Nottingham in 2004.
His work has received funding from ESRC, AHRC, EPSRC, British Academy, European Commission and the Yeltsin Foundation.
Nick has published a monograph on early Soviet history and a research-based biography of a Northern Irish officer who fought in the Russian Civil War and was later active in Ulster politics (both of these have been published in Russian language editions). He has edited one volume of essays, co-edited four further volumes, and published numerous book chapters and articles in leading journals in areas studies, history and historical geography.
He has also participated in and directed several public engagement and knowledge transfer projects involving collaboration with schools, museums, libraries, galleries and community organisations. Nick has been a long-standing member of the AHRC and ESRC Peer Review Colleges and regularly serves as a reader for international journals and book publishers. He sits on the editorial board of several journals, including Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization.
Nick's research focuses on 20th century Russian/Soviet and East European political, cultural and social history and historical geography. His particular interests are (1) population histories (migration, displacement, diaspora and exile; the construction of national, ethnic and social identities; community cohesion and conflict; the politics of collective memory and the public use of history; forms of state population management and demographic intervention, e.g. strategies of classification, regulation and surveillance, 'biopolitics'; etc.); (2) spatial histories (frontiers, borders and boundaries; territorial planning, centre-periphery relations and regionalism; landscape and environment; city space, architecture and urban cultures; conceptions, perceptions and representations of space and place, e.g. cartography; etc.); (3) histories of visual culture, especially film and graphic arts and developments in digital media.
He has extensive experience of supervising PhD projects in these areas and welcomes enquiries regarding postgraduate research and funding.
For further details, see under 'Research' tab above.
Nick's third-year UG special subject Culture, Society and Politics in 20th Century Russia examines the significance and meanings of culture in the political and social development of modern Russia.… read more
[Click on the images and links below for more information on the relevant books, exhibitions or projects illustrated.]
Most of my work is concerned to explore historical processes of interaction among 'space', 'populations' and 'power'. My approach is interdisciplinary: I have drawn on methods and theoretical perspectives from human geography, cultural studies, social anthropology, sociology, economics and political science. Although I primarily conduct my research on twentieth-century Russian and East European history, much of my work is also comparative in approach.
Within this general problematic, I pursue the following overlapping and inter-related themes:
1. How the 'place' and 'displacement' of individuals or groups shapes the construction of social identities (national, regional, ethnic, gender, etc.) and social practices.
2. How, conversely, individuals and groups constitute and contest their identities in space and through spatial practices (e.g. through collective memory, commemoration and the popular use of history; in everyday life).
3. Spatial dimensions of imperial and state power; of nationalism and nation-building; of ethnic mobilisation, conflict and co-existence; of processes of political, social, economic and cultural transformation.
4. Technologies of spatial construction and regulation, both in terms of practice (e.g. territorial and urban planning; regional policies; programmes of economic development; border settlement and enforcement; migration and mobility controls, etc.) and in terms of discourse or representation (e.g. historiography, geography, cartography, etc.); and modes of popular or peripheral 'resistance' or 'subversion' to these technologies.
5. Representations of space in diverse contexts (e.g. in cartography, film, graphic arts, architecture, town planning, etc.) and the relationship of spatial representations with spatial practices of power and resistance and with the lived experience of space.
Current and Recent Research & Public Engagement Activities
This rubric informs much of my teaching and supervision, especially at third-year and postgraduate level, and my research and public engagement activities, which include the following ongoing and recent projects:
- Mapping the Soviet: Cartography, Culture and Power from Lenin to Stalin, 1917-53 (development funding from the University of Nottingham and the J.B. Harley Research Fellowship Trust; proportion of archival research funded by an AHRC Fellowship, 2012-13, within the 'Science in Culture' programme). This ongoing research project explores the history of Soviet cartography between the October revolution and the death of Stalin, in particular examining the ways in which the communist regime used maps to construct and control knowledge of space and territory. The project's wider aim is to establish a new interpretation of the political role and significance of cartographic practice and map culture in the modern world. It has two strands: 'Cartography, Politics and Power in the USSR', which examines the development of cartographic organisation, regulation and production; and 'Soviet Cartography and Cultural Revolution', which considers the significance of maps and mapping in the creation of the 'New Soviet Person'. The research is grounded in a close reading of many thousands of declassified Soviet archival documents concerning the state's administration, control and conduct of mapping, as well as a vast range of published maps and atlases; school textbooks; specialist and popular handbooks on map-making and map-reading; and literary works, films, photography, architecture and graphic arts (including 'ephemeral' materials such as postcards, stamps or newspaper cartoons) featuring cartographic themes or imagery.
As an off-shoot of this project, I acted as Consultant to an exhibition 'Vybiraia marshrut / Defining the route' (examining the spatial structures and subjectivities implicated in the creation and experience of artistic exhibits), designed by Russian artist Sasha Sokolov for the 5th Moscow Biennale of Modern Art, 17 September to 9 October 2013 (links open new windows).
I also acted as Consultant to a major British Library exhibition 'Maps and the Twentieth Century: Drawing the Line' (Nov 2016 - Mar 2017) and as Associate Curator of a second BL exhibition 'Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths' (April-Sept 2017).
- Co-director of an AHRC-funded follow-on project Refugees in post-1945 Europe: Experiences in and beyond the DP camp (with Prof. P. Gatrell, University of Manchester, funded 2011-12, with 'legacy' activities ongoing). Drawing on the findings of two earlier AHRC-funded projects on East European population displacement (see under 'Past Research', below), this aimed (a) to create accessible educational and public resources for the study of refugee and migrant histories; (b) to promote wider public awareness of contemporary issues relating to displacement, migration and asylum, and (c) to transform perceptions of the refugee experience in the past and present. Our means of public engagement included a multi-site exhibition and an educational resource pack, which we developed in collaboration with teachers and students from the Greater Manchester and Nottingham regions, and launched at a Nottingham teachers' workshop in November 2012. Our project partner was the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, and collaborators included the Society of Friends, Imperial War Museum, British Film Institute, and Nottingham City Museums and Galleries. For details of this project, see our web-site (will open in a new window).
Between 17 August and 23 September 2012, Nottingham Castle hosted our exhibition 'When the War was Over: European Refugees after 1945', which was seen by over 25,000 visitors. For the University press release on the exhibition, see here (opens a new window). The exhibition poster can be downloaded via this link.
The exhibition has since been displayed at the launch of the Centre for Advanced Studies (link opens in new window), University of Nottingham, October 2012; the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel, February 2013; Highfield House, University of Nottingham, May-June 2013; New Art Exchange, Nottingham, 16-23 June 2014, to mark Refugee Week; at the UK HQ of Kresy-Siberia, an international organisation dedicated to examining and promoting the history of the Polish diaspora, Manchester, October 2014; and at Friends House in Amersham, June 2015, and Friends House in Chesham, September 2015).
The project has also generated new collaborations. We have advised and supported 'Kresy-Siberia' (see above) in developing an online exhibition on post-1945 Polish migrations. I am currently also working with a Ukrainian community historian to produce an educational resource and documentary film based on oral history interviews (due for release autumn 2021).
- Editor, Displaced Children in Russia and Eastern Europe, 1915-1953. Ideologies, Identities, Experiences (Leiden: Brill, 2017). This volume of essays, published in spring 2017, arises from my two AHRC-funded collaborative research projects on twentieth-century population displacement (see 'Past Research', below). It examines how East European nationalist and revolutionary regimes targeted children in campaigns of coercive re-socialisation associated with state- and nation-building, as well as how they strove to manage the consequences of child displacement caused by war, civil conflict, revolution and social collapse. Many of the chapters also reveal children's creativity and resourcefulness in devising means of coping with the consequences of marginalisation, overcoming trauma and improvising new identities and roles to enable them to negotiate their re-integration into society.
- Between 2014 and 2019 I worked as Co-I on a project 'DHA Praxis: Interrogating Interdisciplinarity', involving collaborators from Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute and the Faculty of Arts, University of Nottingham. The project received approximately £40,000 from the University of Nottingham's Discipline Bridging Scheme, and had produced, among other outputs, a 'Good Practice Guide on Interdisciplinary Collaboration' and a video 'Interrogating Interdisciplinarity' (click on link to open YouTube in a new window). The project is now formally ended, but the team is still active co-authoring an article on using theories of interdisciplinarity to understand and improve collaborative practice, using digital humanities as an example.
- In winter 2016, I co-initiated a pilot project 'Presenting Textual Sources for Public Engagement', which received funding from the University of Nottingham's Research Priority Area 'Heritage and the Digital'. This project involved collaboration among colleagues from the Department of History, Horizon, Manuscripts & Special Collections and the University's Digital Research Team. Using focus groups with academics, postgraduate researchers and community historians, and consultations with museum, library and archive specialists, we produced a set of requirements and options for the design of an open-access digital tool for the curation of online text exhibits. In June 2016 we received £20,000 from the AHRC-funded Centre for Hidden Histories (opens in a new window) at the University of Nottingham to support the further development of this product by the same research team. I was Principal Investigator of this new project 'COREL: Creating Online Resources for Engagement & Learning'. It concluded in summer 2019. For details, see the COREL website.
I supervise postgraduate and postdoctoral research in most areas of 20th century Russian and East European political, cultural, economic and social history and historical geography. I have a track-record of supporting students in securing University of Nottingham and UK Research Council funding (see below), as well as supplementary travel and research bursaries, and I welcome enquiries or applications from any student intending to conduct either full-time or part-time research within my areas of interest.
Dr. Anna Toropova, 'Cinema and Medicine in Early Soviet Russia, 1917-1936' (funded by Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship, 2016-2020)
Dr. Siobhan Peeling, AHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2011-12, on impact project Refugees in post-1945 Europe: Experiences in and beyond the DP camp (for details, see above); University-funded 'Community Engagement Consultant' in History and Tutor in History and in Russian Studies, University of Nottingham, 2012-13; AHRC-funded Research Associate (under Sarah Badcock's supervision) and Centre for Advanced Studies Postdoctoral Fellow (under our joint supervision), 2013-14; Honorary Research Fellow and Teaching Associate, Department of History, 2015 to present.
Dr. Tomas Balkelis, AHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2006-2009, on research project Population Displacement, State Practice and Social Experience in Russia and Eastern Europe, 1930-1956. (Subsequently, European Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College Dublin, 2009-2013; Director of Lithuanian Research Council funded project at Vilnius University, 2013-15; Visiting Scholar at the Center for Russian and East European Studies at Stanford University, 2015-16.)
Current Research Students:
Zack Palmer, 'Selling Space, Controlling Land: A Political Economy of Cartography in Early Modern England' (Second supervisor with David Gehring, Margaret Small; 1+3 ESRC-funded; starting MA year 2021).
Luke Wain, 'The New Soviet Woman Between Factory and Home: Urban Domesticity, Gender and Production, 1921-1941' (Joint supervisor with Sarah Badcock; 1+3 ESRC-funded).
Jessica Lovett, 'A Populous Nation? The Political Use of Demographic Statistics in the USSR, 1965-1989' (Joint supervisor with Sarah Badcock; 1+3 ESRC-funded).
Szinan Radi, ' 'The Currency of Communism and its Social Meaning: structure of authority and the transformation of monetary relations in Hungary's urban and rural society, 1945-1974' (Joint supervisor with Sarah Badcock; 1+3 ESRC-funded).
Helen Lachal, 'Children's Periodicals and the Socio-Political Formation of Young Readers in the USSR, 1956-1982' (joint supervisor with Sarah Badcock, 1+3 ESRC-funded).
Mehmet Akgül, 'Armenian Revolutionaries in nineteenth century Russia' (Joint supervisor with Sarah Badcock; Funded by Turkish government).
Former Research Students:
Jonathan Rowson, 'Out-Migration in the Russian Village, 1880-1914: a Regional Case Study' (PhD, 2020, joint supervisor with Sarah Badcock; 1+3 ESRC-funded. Currently employed by Sputnik News Agency, Moscow).
Andru Chiorean, 'Re-Writing the New Man: Censorship in Communist Romania, 1949-1977' (PhD, 2020, lead supervisor; funded by School of History Studentship; Harvard University Visiting Fellowship, 2011-12; Davis Graduate Student Travel Grant, 2013).
Joseph Nicholson, 'Risk and Reward: Anglo-Soviet Economic Relations, 1921-24' (PhD 2018, lead supervisor; 1+3 ESRC-funded).
Seonaid Rogers, 'Site-Seeing: Postcards of the Middle East and the Visual Construction of Place, 1890s to 1990s' (PhD 2018, joint supervisor with Maiken Umbach; funded by AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award in partnership with the British Museum; awarded Library of Congress Fellowship, 2017-18).
Michael Carey, 'British Socialism and the Emotions of Revolution, 1884-1926' (PhD 2017; joint supervisor with Sarah Badcock; funded by AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award in partnership with the British Library; currently working for City of Nottingham Council).
Siobhan Hearne, 'From 'Yellow Ticket' to 'Bourgeois Evil': Female Prostitution in Urban Russia, 1900-1930' (PhD 2017; joint supervisor with Sarah Badcock; 1+3 ESRC-funded; Leverhulme Study Abroad Postdoctoral Fellowship in Latvia and Russia, 2017-19; Leverhulme Early-Career Fellowship, University of Durham, 2019-22).
Laura Sumner, 'Competing Identities: The Construction of Social Identity among Urban Workers in Sormovo, 1917-1924' (PhD 2017; second supervisor; 1+3 ESRC-funded; currently teaching in the the UK).
Stephen Parfitt, 'The Order in the Empire: The Knights of Labor in Britain, Australia and New Zealand, 1880-1900' (PhD 2014; joint supervisor with Chris Wrigley; funded by University International Research Excellence Scholarship; Teaching Fellow at Loughborough University, 2017-20; currently teaching in New Zealand).
Viacheslav Tolmachev, 'Between Theory And Practice: Khrushchev's "Anti-Parasite" Legislation, 1956-1961' (MPhil 2014; lead supervisor; in 2016 secured position as Counsellor on International Affairs to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation, Moscow).
Olga Bertelsen, 'Spatial Dimensions of Soviet Repressions in the 1930s: The House of Writers (Kharkiv, Ukraine)' (PhD 2013; lead supervisor; funded by University International Research Excellence Scholarship; Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellowship; Helen Darcovich Memorial Doctoral Fellowship, 2012-13; awarded Harriman Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship, Columbia University, USA, 2013-14; Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Center for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, University of Toronto, 2014-15; Fellowship, European University Institute, Florence, 2018-19; received tenure-track position at a US university, 2019).
Alistair Wright, 'The Civil War in Karelia, 1918-1920' (PhD 2011; joint supervisor; ESRC-funded; currently teaching in Scotland).
Siobhan Peeling, '"Out of Place" in the Postwar City: Experiences and Representations of Displacement during the Resettlement of Leningrad at the end of the Blockade' (PhD 2010; lead supervisor; AHRC-funded; for postdoctoral work, see above).
Alastair Kocho-Williams, 'The Culture of Russian and Soviet Diplomacy, Lamsdorf to Litvinov, 1903-1939' (PhD 2006; joint supervisor; funded by School Scholarship; Lecturer in History at Leeds University, then Senior Lecturer in History, UWE, then Senior Lecturer in International and Soviet History, Aberystwyth University; currently Professor of History and Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences, USA).
Main research-related leadership and administrative roles
National: Director of Area Studies and Economic & Social History Pathways, Midlands Graduate School (regional ESRC-funded doctoral training partnership, incl. Nottingham, Warwick, Birmingham, Leicester and other universities), UK (2016 to present); Member of AHRC Peer Review College (2007-15) and member of AHRC Fellowships and Research Grants Panels (2013-14); Member of ESRC Assessor College (2009-16); Member of Executive Management Group and Public Policy Committee of 'Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies' (University of Glasgow, 2007-2010).
Department of History (until 2012, School of History): Co-Director of Research and REF Coordinator (2014-16); Chair of the Examinations Board (2013-15); Director of Research (2010-11); Chair of REF Steering Group (2010-11); Member, Strategy and Finance Committee (2010-11); Director of Postgraduate Research (2005-11); Research Funding Officer (2006-10); Chair of Research Ethics Committee (2009-11).
School of Humanities: Director of Postgraduate Research (2016-2019); Member of Management Committee (2016-19); Research Ethics Officer (2014-15); Member of Research Committee (2014-15); Member of Research Strategy Taskforce (2010-11).
Faculty of Arts: Member of Arts Postgraduate Strategy Group (2016-2019); Member of Faculty Research Committee (2010-11); Member of Arts Graduate Centre Strategy Group (2008-11).
University of Nottingham: Member of ESRC Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) Management Committee (2020 to present); Member of ESRC DTC Training Committee (2016 to present); Member of Research Ethics Working Group (2010-11); Chair of Arts and Humanities Special Interest Group (2007-10); Member of Humanities and Social Sciences Strategy Group (2007-09); Member of Management Committee, EPSRC project 'Towards Pervasive Media' (2009-11); Member of Digital Humanities Network Steering Group (2009-2017); Member of Memory and Remembrance Network Steering Group (2010-2016).
BARON, N., 2022. “Fascist Colors”: Stalinist Spatial Ideology, Cartographic Design, and Visual Learning. In: JOAN NEUBERGER and VALERIE KIVELSON, eds., Picturing Russian Empire Oxford University Press. (In Press.)
BARON, N., 2021. Visual channels (2): Cartographic Media – Institutions, Ideologies, and Information. In: KIRILL POSTOUTENKO, ALEXEY TIKHOMIROV and DMITRI ZAKHARINE, eds., Media and Communication from Lenin to Stalin (1917-1941): General Perspectives Palgrave Macmillan. [12,500 words] (In Press.)
BARON, N., ed., 2017. Displaced Children in Russia and Eastern Europe, 1915-1953: Ideologies, Identities, Experiences Leiden: Brill.