Christina Novakov-Ritchey

Ph.D. Candidate, Culture and Performance, UCLA

B.A., Comparative Literature, UC Davis
M.A., Culture and Performance, UCLA

Christina Novakov-Ritchey is a Ph.D. candidate of Culture and Performance at UCLA. 

When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies?

My interest in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies began a few years after completing my B.A. in Comparative Literature at UC Davis. At the time, I was assisting on a theatre project dealing with the Yugoslav Wars during a new play workshop at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. I hadn’t previously thought much about pursuing research in the Balkans, despite being brought up in a Serbian-speaking household. I found the play so compelling that eventually I went on to propose a research project based on the theatre piece for my graduate studies at UCLA. My research focus later changed from theatre to traditional healing practices and the history of peasant resistance, though it remained focused on the Yugoslav region.

What support have you received throughout your career (from ASEEES / other societies / federal support / etc.) that has allowed you to advance your scholarship?

Most recently I was awarded a Dissertation Year Fellowship funded by UCLA’s Graduate Division. My research has previously been supported by several different departments, institutes, and initiatives at UCLA, including the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, the School of Arts and Architecture, the International Institute, the Center for European and Russian Studies, and the Collegium of University Teaching Fellows. I have also been the recipient of the U.S. Department of State Program for Research and Training on Eastern Europe and Eurasia’s Title VIII Grant. My colleague Marcos Cisneros (UC Berkeley) and I were also recently awarded funding from the UC Humanities Research Institute to establish an online hub for research on postsocialism during the 2021-22 academic year.

What is your current research/work project?

Currently I am in-between two research projects. I am finishing my dissertation, “A New Peasant Question: Politics, Aesthetics and the Countryside in the Yugoslav Region,” which examines the overlapping realms of art and ethnography to analyze how representations of the peasantry became a key terrain in the fight between capitalist ecological extraction and socialist revolution. I am also in the beginning stages of a new research project, which examines the production of performance and video art across the world produced by artists who situate themselves in explicit relation to the history of experiments in socialist governance.

What does your ASEEES membership mean to you? How has your involvement with ASEEES helped to further your career?

While today I serve as the Graduate Representative on the ASEEES Board of Directors, when I started to attend ASEEES conventions in 2018 I never would have guessed that the organization would become so integral to my career. Due to the comradely environment that I found at ASEEES and the genuine connections that I made with my colleagues, ASEEES quickly became a key arena for the development of my scholarship. Accidental meetings in Q&A sessions, in line at the coffee shop, and at roundtable discussions turned into lasting friendships and research collaborations.

How do you envision your current research projects(s) within the broader field of SEEES?

I locate my research in the interstices of Balkan studies, postsocialist cultural studies, and the emerging subfield focusing on the relationship of Eastern Europe and Eurasia to global histories of colonialism and decolonization.

Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?

I love to cook, garden, and swim in the ocean! In a non-pandemic context I also really love to go listen to live music. Los Angeles is blessed with a never-ending stream of amazing artists.