Curtis Murphy

Assistant Professor

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Curtis Murphy received his Ph.D. from Georgetown University with a focus on East Central Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His research focuses on the east European Enlightenment, interfaith and multinational cohabitation in imperial contexts, urban history, and identity in the premodern world. Professor Murphy’s recently published book, From Citizens to Subjects: City and State in Poland, Ukraine and Belarus at the Onset of the Modern Age ( explores the experience of urban residents in cities of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the eighteenth century through the Great Reforms. The book seeks to understand the political conceptions and motivations of city citizens, local officials, and noble town owners, who resisted and sabotaged enlightened reforms designed to improve their own material and economic situation. Rather than viewing urban citizens as backwards and shortsighted in the face of progress, From Citizens to Subjectsargues that conflict between citizens and the state at the turn of the nineteenth century resulted from a clash of two rival, incompatible and mutually-incomprehensible political visions, one of which—that of the enlightened center—ultimately triumphed and has informed subsequent interpretations of the period ever since.

Professor Murphy had also published articles in Slavic Review and Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, and he is working on an article about a blood libel trial in an eighteenth century private town, which highlights the unexpected weight of legalism and litigation in a feudal setting. His next project will focus on cosmopolitan identity and imperial service in nineteenth century Eurasia. Prior to teaching at Nazarbayev University, Professor Murphy taught at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Colby College and Georgetown University.


  1. 2015 – Research Stipend, Polish History Museum
  2. 2012 – John Ruedy General Education Teaching Award, Georgetown University
  3. 2011 – Baltic Language Summer Institute Scholarship, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  4. 2008 – Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education

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