Dr. M. Benjamin Thorne
History and Political Science
Assistant Professor of History
Thank you for visiting my faculty webpage! Since completing my Ph.D. in East European History at Indiana University (March 2012), I have held an appointment as Assistant Professor of World History at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. At ABAC I teach both halves of the World History survey and US History II. In addition, as an affiliate of ABAC’s innovative Rural Studies program, I offer two courses within its Politics and Modern Cultures baccalaureate track, “A History of Violence: The Twentieth Century in Global Perspective” and “From Plow to Proletariat: Transitioning From an Agrarian to an Industrial Society in Eastern Europe and Russia”.
As the above titles might suggest, in both my teaching and research I am primarily concerned with Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Russia/the Soviet Union and its successor states. I am interested in teaching courses in World History, Western Civilization, and European History, as well as more thematic courses in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Jewish Studies, and Public History. To learn more concerning my teaching, especially pedagogy, see my statement of teaching philosophy. You may also see what former students have said about my teaching by clicking here.
My teaching is informed by my scholarly interests. Currently I am in the process of finding a publisher for my book manuscript, The Anxiety of Proximity: The Gypsy Question in Twentieth-Century Romania. Based on over fourteen months of archival research, this project dramatically recasts the history of twentieth-century Romania by restoring focus to one of its central problems. Throughout the twentieth century, Romania struggled with the issue of modernization, and for many elites nothing marked their country’s “backwards” status so much as the Roma (Gypsies). I argue that by the interwar period, this anxiety grew to the extent that debates on modernization, urbanization, and the content of Romanian national identity became inextricably linked with discussions of whether and how to assimilate Roma. While my project concerns the breadth of the twentieth century, the focus is on the crucial years of Ion Antonescu’s wartime dictatorship and the deportations of Roma to Romanian-occupied Ukraine perpetrated under his regime. In particular, it traces how the problems associated with Roma ultimately intertwined in the context of war and genocide with a broader nationalist project, based in part on eugenics, to identify and excise a segment of Romania’s population construed as being a threat to the body politic.
Work for this project was funded by fellowships from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Holocaust Educational Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, among others. For more information regarding my teaching experience, publications, awards, presentations,and record of service, please refer to my curriculum vitae.
My interest in the Roma transcends the realm of academic inquiry. The persecution that many Roma in Europe continue to experience constitutes a major human rights crisis. For some of my thoughts on this issue see my 2010 editorial published by the History News Network. Sadly, the editorial remains all-too-relevant today. For more on the current plight of Roma, see the website maintained by the European Roma Rights Centre.