Yanni Kotsonis was educated in Athens, Montreal, Copenhagen, London, Moscow, and New York. He is Professor of History at New York University and founding Director of the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia. He has written on Russian political economy and governmentality, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His books include Making Peasants Backward: Agricultural Cooperatives and the Agrarian Question in Russia (1999) and States of Obligation: Taxes and Citizenship in the Russian Empire and the Early Soviet Republic (2014). He has been offered fellowships from the SSRC, Hoover Institution, National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, American Academy in Berlin, European University Institute, École Française d'Athènes, and the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.
His current work, and the occasion for his stay in Athens in association with the Athens School of Fine Arts, is on the Greek Revolution and War of Independence (1821-1830), and he will be on the scene for the bicentennial commemorations. He takes the long view of the events by working backward to the 1790s, to examine how the French Revolution and the French, Russian, and British occupations of the Ionian Islands transformed politics and expectations on the Ottoman mainland. By the same token, he accounts for the imperial contexts in which Greeks lived, worked, and circulated, and considers the Greeks as imperial subjects who used what they learned in their global experiences to carry out one Europe's first nationalist revolution and to establish Europe's first ethno-national state. He has conducted archival research in London, Paris, Geneva, Corfu and Athens; his research in Moscow and St.Petersburg was postponed due to the Coronavirus epidemic. At the School of Fine Arts he will teach courses on utopian thinking from classical Greece to modern Europe, as well as the human mobilities made possible by the revolutionary era 1789-1848. These will be both graduate and undergraduate courses. He will also participate in commemorative events at the School, in Athens, and in the provinces.