Brandon Schechter

; Elihu Rose Scholar in Modern Military History

Ph.D., History, University of California at Berkeley, 2015
M.A., History, University of California at Berkeley, 2010
B.A., Russian Studies, Vassar College, 2005

Field of Study: 

Modern Europe

Research Interests: 

Soviet Union, Russian Empire, material culture, violence, war, gender, empire, comparative history, WWI, WWII

Curriculum Vitae

Research Description:

Brandon Schechter’s book manuscript, Government Issue: The Material Culture of the Red Army 1941-1945 uses everyday objects to tell the story of the Great Patriotic War as never before. The choice to concentrate on objects stems from the fact that it was the uniform world of material goods that united diverse soldiers in the ranks of the Red Army and was often all that separated civilians from soldiers. Each chapter features a series of related objects, such as weapons, uniforms, rations or the knick knacks in a soldier’s backpack, to narrate the experience of people at war and explore the changes taking place in Soviet society in the course of the most destructive conflict in recorded history. Mundane objects such as spoons, shovels, belts and watches are revealed to be as full of meaning and as important to waging war as medals and tanks.

His second major project, Commissars, Chaplains and Psychiatrists: The Search for Salvation in World War II is a comparative study of the roles of commissars and other political workers in the Red Army with chaplains and psychiatrists in the US Army during the Second World War. This work will explore the shifting contours of political work and the functioning of the party in the Red Army alongside the rise of religious pluralism and growing role of psychiatry in the US Army during the war. The comparison of how an illiberal, authoritarian state and liberal democracy dealt with the existential threats of Fascism and Japanese Imperialism promises to yield new insights into the functioning of these two societies, both of which emerged from the war as global superpowers. He will begin serious work on this project at NYU. Dr. Schechter is also on the editorial board of The Journal of Power Institutions of Post-Soviet Societies and has published on women in the Red Army and nationality politics in the Red Army. His research interests focus on violence, material culture and the diversity of experiences based on gender, class and nationality.


Brandon Schechter received his Ph.D. in History at the University of California Berkeley in 2015. He has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University (2015-2016). He has studied at Smolny College, Middlebury College, European University at St. Petersburg, Kazan Federal University and the Higher School of Economics, where he was a research fellow at The International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences in Moscow and the History Department in St. Petersburg with support from a Fulbright IIE Fellowship.

Selected Works:

“‘Girls’ and ‘Women’: Love, Sex, Duty and Sexual Harassment in the Ranks of the Red Army 1941-1945”, The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies, 2015:17. 

“The State’s Pot and the Soldier’s Spoon: Paëk (Rations) in the Red Army” in Wendy Goldman and Donald Filtzer, eds., Hunger and War: Food Provisioning in the Soviet Union during World War II (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015), pp. 98-157.

 “‘The People’s Instructions’: Indigenizing the Great Patriotic War Among ‘Non-Russians’”, Ab Imperio. 2012:3, pp. 109-133. 

“'The Language of the Sword': Aleksandr Bek, The Writers Union and Baurdzhan Momysh-uly in Battle for the Memory of Volokolamskoe Shosse.”  Berkeley Working Papers. 2009. Available at

Review of Jochen Hellbeck, Stalingrad: The City that Defeated the Third Reich in Canadian Slavonic Papers 57, no. 3-4 (09, 2015): 327-328. Available at

"Link to Brandon Schechter's Presentation at the Jordan Center, November 29, 2016: 


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Updated on 12/06/2016