Alison K. Smith

Professor & Chair (She/Her)
Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St. George Street, Room 2073


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Imperial Russia; social structures; governance.


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Professor Smith is a specialist in the history of imperial Russia. Most recently, she has been conducting research about the palace and town of Gatchina, planning to write both a monograph on autocratic authority in the region and also a collective microhistory based on findings from the archives (a first experiment at microhistory is her series of blog posts on "The Case of the Dead Cheese Master" at the Russian History Blog). In addition, she has recently completed a monograph on social status and social mobility: For the Common Good and Their Own Well Being: Social Estates in Imperial Russia (Oxford, 2014), and has also published a series of articles on related subjects, including “Freed Serfs without Free People: Manumission in Imperial Russia,” AHR (2013). Her work on these projects was supported by grants from SSHRC and IREX.

Professor Smith has also published a number of articles and a monograph on food in Imperial Russian history. The monograph – Recipes for Russia: Food and Nationhood under the Tsars (2008) – examines the interaction between foreign knowledge and traditional patterns of behaviour in the production and consumption of food. Her various articles on specific aspects of this general subject include “National Cuisine and Nationalist Politics: V.F. Odoevskii and “’Doctor Puf,’ 1844-5” (2009); “Eating Out in Imperial Russia: Class, Nationality and Dining before the Great Reforms” (2006); and “Public Works in an Autocratic State: Water Supplies in an Imperial Russian Town” (2003). Work on these projects was supported by grants from the Fulbright-Hayes and Mellon foundations.


PhD, University of Chicago