Photo of Kasimova, Zukhra

Zukhra Kasimova

Graduate Student

PhD Candidate



Tentative title of dissertation: Uzbek, Karakalpak, and Soviet: Multinational in Form, Hybrid in Content, 1941–1981
Advisor: Prof. Marina B. Mogilner

Selected Publications

Peer reviewed:
“The Improbable Museum: Igor Savitsky’s Art Museum in Nukus as an Artifact of Postwar Soviet Reality”, in Ab Imperio, 3/2019, pp. 119-143 and “Nevozmozhnii Muzei v Arhivnyh Dokumentah”, in Ab Imperio, 3/2019, pp. 144-255.

Junaid Quadri, Zukhra Kasimova (translation), “The Influence of Shihabuddin Mardjani on the Hanafism of the Middle East and South Asia”, in Journal for the Studies of Islam and Muslim Societies, Vol 9, No 1-2 (2019).

Online publications:
“Ilkhom: Inspiration that Drew From Stagnation”, in Voices on Central Asia March 4, 2020.

“Adoption and Integration of Displaced Soviet Children During the Great Patriotic War in Uzbek SSR” in The Peripheral Histories collaborative digital history project, November 2018 .

Notable Honors

2020, Provost’s Graduate Research Award (PGRA), University of Illinois at Chicago

2020, History Department John B. and Theta Wolf Fellowship, University of Illinois at Chicago

2019, Award for Graduate Research (AGR), University of Illinois at Chicago

2018 and 2019, Prokhorov Foundation Scholarship, Prokhorov Foundation

2018, Kathryn W. Davis Graduate Student Travel Award, (ASEEES)

2017-2018, Chancellor’s Graduate Research Award (CGRA), University of Illinois at Chicago

2017-2018, Civil Society Scholar Award (CSSA), Open Society Foundation (OSF)


M.A. in Comparative History, Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary, State University of New York (SUNY) in Albany, NY, 2015–2016
BA in Linguistics, Uzbek State World Languages University (USWLU) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2006-2010
Institute for English Language Teachers Education (IELTE) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2006-2010

- Teaching Assistant, Department of History, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), 2016-onward
- NYU Jordan Center fir the study of Russia, Visiting Researcher, Spring-Fall 2020
- Online “course builder”, Graduate College, UIC , Summer 2020
- Teaching Assistant, Department of History, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), 2016-onward


Instructor of record (NIU)
- HIST 323 History of Science to Newton, Spring 2020
Teaching Assistant (UIC)
- HIST 235, The Rise and Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, Fall 2020
- HIST 177, Middle Eastern Civilization, Fall 2019
- HIST 137, Russia in War and Revolution, 1904-1922: Global Perspective, Fall 2018
- HIST 105, Global Transformations, Spring 2018, and Spring 2020
- HIST 106, The World Since 1400: Converging Worlds, New Circulations, Fall 2017
- HIST 105, Global Transformations and the Rise of the West Since 1000
- HIST 100, History of Western Civilization to 1648, Spring 2017

Selected Presentations


“Charting the Improbable Museum: Savitsky Art Collection’s past and present in Nukus, Karakalpakstan” at CESS Virtual Conference panel “Arts and Activism”, October 13, 2020 (forthcoming).

“Ethnic and Cultural Hybridity in Post-World War II Uzbekistan: Case of Adopted Orphans” at Reconsidering Race in Russia after George Floyd virtual panel, NYU’s Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, November 30, 2020 (forthcoming).

"The Improbable Museum: Igor Savitsky's Art Museum in Nukus as an Artifact of Postwar Soviet Reality", NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, December 4, 2020 (forthcoming).

“Uzbek War-time Adoptions on Display: Multinational in form, socialist in content” at the University of Indiana (UI) Bloomington symposium: “Famine, Conspiracy, Orphans, and Ancient Apples: Perspectives on Central Asia”, January 31, 2020.

“At the Center of Periphery: Igor Savitsky’s Collection of Soviet Avant-garde Art in the Karakalpak Desert” at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), History Department Brown Bag Talk, November 14, 2018.


“Savitsky's collection in Soviet Karakalpak Autonomous republic: An Idiosyncratic Museum” at the International Council for Central and East European Studies (ICCEES) 2020 World Congress in Montreal, Canada, August 4-9, 2020 (rescheduled to August 2021 due to Covid-19).

“Soviet modernity in the Karakalpak Desert through the case of Igor Savitsky's Art Museum in Nukus” at the Central Eurasian Studies Association (CESS) Regional Conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, June 25-28, 2020 (rescheduled to Summer 2021 due to Covid-19).

“Collecting modern and traditional: Igor Savitsky’s museum of Russian Avant-garde art in Karakalpak desert” at the 51st Annual ASEEES Convention, San Francisco, CA, November 2019.

“Uzbek War-time Adoptions on Display: Multinational in form, socialist in content?” at the Annual CESS Convention, Washington DC, October 10, 2019.

“Hybrid Central Asian Identities: From Moscow to Tashkent and then to Nukus” at the 24th Annual Association for Study of Nationalities (ASN) World Convention, Harriman Institute Columbia U, New York, NY, May 3, 2019.

“Displaced Soviet Children and the Great Patriotic War: Family Separation, and Adoption” at the 50th Annual ASEEES Convention in Boston, MA, December 9, 2018.

“Displaced Soviet Children during the Great Patriotic War in Uzbek SSR: Experiences of Evacuation” at the Annual CESS Convention in Pittsburg, PA, October 28, 2018.

“Adoption and Adaptation in Uzbek SSR during the Great Patriotic War: The Friendship of The Peoples as a hierarchical discourse” at the Midwest Slavic Conference on Migration at Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, March 25, 2018.

“(R)Evolution of the Soviet-Muslim discourse in local Uzbek and Russian language newspapers from 1920s to the Great purges” at the Interdisciplinary Approaches to Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (REECA) Workshop, University of Chicago, IL, November 17, 2017.

Research Currently in Progress

RESEARCH INTERESTS: Soviet and Central Asian 20th century history

CURRENT RESEARCH: In her dissertation project, Kasimova argues that Soviet modernity was essentially a hybrid concept. Within this framework, Central Asia as a region ceases being a periphery of the Soviet world and becomes central for understanding processes of hybridization of Soviet modernity. Kasimova’s project is aimed at decentering Eurocentric narratives of modernity. Her Soviet modernity is multi-lingual; it allows a place for the persistence of Islam in the region (as both religion and cultural text); and it implies active role of local elites in [re]shaping messages and policies of the center and directly influencing them. The project also explores the heterogeneous nature of the Central Asian region itself, highlighting its internal social, gender and national stratifications and conflicts that defying any binary explanations and oppositions. By focusing on specific cases of human and institutional contacts, interactions and competitions, Kasimova plans to show how the post-WWII global reshaping of Uzbekistan as a Soviet national republic produced spaces of relative freedom that allowed imagining and exercising modernity in terms contradictory to official Soviet politics and discourses. On the other hand, Kasimova claims that the hybrid Uzbek modernity decisively influenced the normative Soviet project – by carving in it a place for “Muslim” cultural identification, a concept of national science, toleration of “national” traditionalism (as, for example, exemplified by extended Uzbek families that adopted evacuated children from “European” Russia and made them linguistically and culturally Uzbek), and so on.