Orel Beilinson is a social and cultural historian of modern Central and Eastern Europe, broadly defined. Drawing on a broad interdisciplinary training, he hopes to integrate sociolinguistic insight, archival research, and formal methods drawn from sociology to write cultural and social histories.
His current project is tentatively called End-of-Life Decisions: Understanding, Regulating and Preventing Suicide in Eastern Europe, 1870-1939. He aims to reconstruct the meanings endowed in suicide in Eastern Europe, mainly in the Habsburg Empire and its successor states, and different trajectories and corpora of knowledge developed and recruited by historical actors to understand, regulate and prevent it. For this purpose, he is exploring sources ranging from police records and psychiatric case files to newspapers and literary works and methodologies that include both distant reading based on statistical exploration and, in the other extreme of the scale, a close reading of archival sources.
His previous publications include several book chapters and articles, in which he explored the comparative history of Jews and Muslims in the period leading to the 1917 revolutions in Russia, the phenomenon of female tsardom in eighteenth-century Russia, and Tolstoy’s interaction with the Caucasus in his diaries and literary works. His review articles cover recent scholarship on Islam in the Balkans as well as German-language scholarship in Yugoslavia.