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Faculty Profile

Karl Qualls

Professor of History; John B. Parsons Chair in the Liberal Arts and Sciences (2000)

Contact Information

Denny Hall Room 201


Karl's teaching interests include Russian and German history, the Holocaust, comparative revolutions (political, social, and cultural), dictators, urban history, refugees, childhood, and more. His new book "Stalin’s Niños: Educating Spanish Civil War Refugee Children in the Soviet Union, 1937-51" (Toronto, 2020) examines refugee children of the Spanish Civil War who were raised in the Soviet Union and the special boarding schools designed for them and the educational methods used to develop the children into Hispano-Soviets. His previous book "From Ruins to Reconstruction: Urban Identity in Soviet Sevastopol after World War II" (Cornell, 2009) challenges notions of totalitarianism, investigates the creation of historical myths, and outlines the role of monuments and urban space and identity formation in a city torn between Ukraine and Russia. These and other publication have been supported by grants from the J. Paul Getty Foundation, Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Library of Congress, American Council of Learned Societies, National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, and the International Research and Exchange Board, among others.


  • B.A., University of Missouri at Columbia, 1993
  • Ph.D., Georgetown University, 1998


  • Ganoe Award for Inspirational Teaching, 2003-04

2020-2021 Academic Year

Spring 2021

HIST 215 Refugees
With refugees in the news the last few years, we hear repeated stories of difficult trajectories, international organizations that are unprepared, and countries that are unwelcoming. We also see the media's short attention span. Yet, none of these issues is new. This course will explore modern refugeedom. Refugees, as distinct from migrants, typically flee from war, civil war, and genocide and ethnic cleansing. Some scholars are now beginning to categorize migration from the effects of climate change as refugees, too. We will start at the beginning of the last century as modern warfare and new forms of nationalism forced millions to search for safety in what one scholar has called a "whole empire walking." Our course will investigate causes for flight, the responses from national governments and international organizations, and the daily life of the refugees in Europe, Africa, south and east Asia and in their new places of residence. Throughout, we will reflect on modern day crises so that we as global citizens can engage with refugee populations who live in our communities and learn from several historical case studies (e.g. Vietnam and Bosnia) how better to accommodate populations fleeing violence and resettling in different cultures where many citizens may not be welcoming.

HIST 253 Autocracy/Uprising/Daily Life
Cross-listed with RUSS 253-01.

RUSS 253 Autocracy/Uprising/Daily Life
Cross-listed with HIST 253-01. Most class meeting times will be held in person, for those on campus.