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Christian Raffensperger, Ph.D.

Christian RaffenspergerAssociate Professor
Director of Pre-Modern & Ancient World Studies & Russia & Central Eurasian Program
Eurasia, Russia
(937) 327-7843
Hollenbeck Hall 311

Professor Raffensperger obtained his B.A. from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His first book, released by Harvard University Press, won the Ohio Academy of History Publication Award in 2013 and is titled, “Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World, 988–1146.” It deals with the relationship of Rus’ (the medieval kingdom that will become Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus) to the rest of Europe. It specifically focuses on the dynastic marriages made between the ruling family of Rus’, the Volodimerovichi, and the other ruling families of Europe. These marriages formed a web of connections that tied Rus’ firmly into the fabric of Europe during this period.  Those marital connections are the subject of his second book entitled, “Ties of Kinship: Genealogy and Dynastic Marriage in Kyivan Rus'” (Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 2016) which also provides a complete genealogy for the Volodimerovichi through the mid–twelfth century (this project has a parallel digital humanities component which can be viewed at This project has generated recent interest, due to the political situation in modern Ukraine and Ties of Kinship was part of Dr. Raffensperger's editorial at the Washington Post, as well as the subject of an article by the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.

Currently he is at work on a new project focusing on intra–familial conflicts in medieval central and eastern Europe, and how those families manage those conflicts through the creation of "situational kinship networks," as a way to mitigate the effects of the conflicts.

Professor Raffensperger was on sabbatical during the 2013-2014 academic year as a Eugene and Daymel Shklar Research Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. He is currently an Associate of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute as well. Professor Raffensperger is also active in multiple scholarly organizations. He currently serves on the governing board of both the Byzantine Studies Association of North America and the Ohio Academy of History. He is also a founding member of the editorial board for the journal, The Medieval Globe. The Medieval Globe's goal is to bring scholarly interconnectivity to our modern understanding of the medieval world.

Digital Humanities has become one of Professor Raffensperger's interests over the course of working on his own project - the Rusian Genealogical Database. This website, which uses a back end XML database was developed in conjunction with David J. Birnbaum of the University of Pittsburgh. In conjunction with this project, the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute sponsored the development of a genealogy map, as part of their Mapa project, to highlight the interconnectivity of medieval Europe using this dynastic marriage date (for more information see the Rusian Genealogy Map). These applications are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital humanities. Collected here are some of the many Digital Humanities resources and projects that students, and fellow academics both, can use for their own research.

Academic Background

  • Ph.D. University of Chicago
  • M.A. University of Chicago
  • B.A. Bates College



  • Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World, 988–1146 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012) - (see reviews in The American Historical Review, Slavic Review, Choice, and Comitatus)
  • Ties of Kinship: Rusian Genealogy and Dynastic Marriage (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute Publications, 2016) - (see reviews in Russian Review and Slavonic and East European Journal)
  • The Kingdom of Rus (Kalamazoo, Mich.: ARC Medieval Press, 2017 [forthcoming])
  • Portraits of Medieval Eastern Europe, 800-1300, co-edited with Donald Ostrowski (London: Routledge, 2017 [forthcoming])
  • ‘Death by an unknown hand:’ Kinship, Identity, and Conflict in Medieval Eastern Europe [in progress]


  • “Reimagining Europe: An Outsider Looks at the Medieval East-West Divide” in Forgotten Regions [volume under review]
  • “Iziaslav Iaroslavich’s Excellent Adventure: Constructing Kinship to Gain and Regain Power in Eleventh-Century Europe” Medieval Prosopography 30 (2016), 1-30.
  • “Identity in Flux: Finding Boris Kolomanovich in the Interstices of Medieval European History” The Medieval Globe 2:1 (2016), 15-39.
  • “Reimagining Europe: Discussing Rus’ in a Wider Context” in “Forum on Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World” Russian History 42:2 (2015), 204-216.
  • “The Place of Rus’ in Medieval Europe” History Compass 12:11, 853-865 (November, 2014)
  • “Mia syntome istoria tou kratous ton Ros [A brief history of the kingdom of Rus’],” in P. Sophoulis and A. Papageorgiou (eds), Mesaionikos slavikos kosmos (Herodotus: Athens 2014), 213-248.
  • “The Missing Rusian Women: The Case of Evpraksia Vsevolodovna.” In Putting Together the Fragments: Writing Medieval Women’s Lives. Ed. Amy Livingstone and Charlotte Newman Goldy (New York: Palgrave, 2012), 69–84.
  • “Mapping History: Using Technology to Showcase Medieval Familial Interconnectivity.” With David J. Birnbaum. Festschrift in Honor of Orysia Karapinka in Russian History/Histoire Russe 37:4 (2010), 305–21.
  • “Dynastic Marriage in Action: How Two Rusian Princesses Changed Scandinavia” Imenoslov, F. B. Uspenskii, ed. (Moscow: Indrik, 2009), 187–99.
  • “Shared (Hi)Stories: Vladimir of Rus’ and Harald Fairhair of Norway” Russian Review 68:4 (2009), 569–82.
  • “Rurik and the First Rurikids,” with Norman W. Ingham. The American Genealogist 82:1 (2007), 1–13 (part 1); 82:2 (2007), 111–19 (part 2).
  • “Rusian Economic and Marital Policy: An Initial Analysis of Correlations.” Festschrift in Honor of Richard Hellie in Russian History/Histoire Russe 34:1–4 (2007), 149–59.
  • “Rusian Influence on European Onomastic Traditions” Imenoslov: Istoricheskaia semantika imeni. (Moscow: Indrik, 2007), pp. 116-34.
  • “Revisiting the Idea of the Byzantine Commonwealth” Byzantinische Forschungen 28 (2004), 159–74.
  • “Evpraksia Vsevolodovna between East and West” Russian History/Histoire Russe 30:1–2 (2003), 23–34.

Sample Courses

Other Interests/Info

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