September 25, 2009 Historian David Christian Named Distinguished Visiting Scholar at John W. Kluge Center

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Saladini (202) 707-2692

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has named David Christian, a professor from Australia, as Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library’s John W. Kluge Center.

Christian will conduct research at the Library from September through December 2009 to complete a draft of a comprehensive history of Inner Eurasia, the lands dominated by the former Soviet Union as well as Mongolia and parts of Xinjiang. The project combines his background as a historian of Russia and his growing interest in world history and “big history,” which is history on a large scale across long time frames through a multi-disciplinary approach.

A professor of history at Macquarie University in Sydney, Christian earned both a bachelor’s and a doctorate from Oxford University. He taught at Macquarie from 1975 to 2000 and returned to Macquarie in 2009. In the interim, he taught at San Diego State University and in 2008 was appointed as a James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont and as a visiting professor at the Institute of World and Global History at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

Christian is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Global History and the Cambridge History of the World.

Formally trained as a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, Christian has written extensively on the social and material history of the 19th-century Russian peasantry, in particular on the aspects of diet and the role of alcohol. Among his books on 19th-century Russian history are “Bread and Salt: A Social and Economic History of Food and Drink in Russia” (1984) and “Living Water: Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation” (1990). More recent publications include “Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History” (2004); “This Fleeting World: A Short History of Humanity” (2007); and “Big History,” a set of 48 lectures for the Teaching Company, 2008.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit


PR 09-187
ISSN 0731-3527