Dr. Julia Berest

- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of History

image of Julia BerestPhD, University of Western Ontario, 2008
Email: jberest2@uwo.ca

Research Interests

Professor Berest is a specialist in Russian and European Intellectual History, with a focus on liberal ideas and the reception of Western liberal thought in pre-revolutionary Russia. Her monograph, The Emergence of Russian Liberalism: Alexander Kunitsyn in Context 1783-1840, explores the development of Russian liberal tradition through the life and writings of one of its earliest exponents— Alexander Kunitsyn, who brought to Russia the ideas of the eighteenth century Enlightenment philosophers. Among her recent publications is a series of articles on the reception of J. S. Mill in Russia, and an article that examines the theme of happiness in Russian pre-revolutionary thought.

Current Research Project

I am currently writing a book manuscript, John Stuart Mill in Pre-revolutionary Russia, which examines the Russian reception of the British liberal philosopher and economist J.S. Mill. This study presents a history of Russian translations of Mill, the diverse reactions that he received from various ideological camps in Russia, and the way his ideas influenced Russian liberal and radical thought in the 1860s-early 1900s. Of special interest to me is the question of why Mill’s canonical works On Liberty and The Subjection of Women elicited a stronger reaction in Russia than in Mill’s home country, Britain.

Parallel to this, I began a new research project tentatively entitled “The Illiberal Side of Russian Liberalism, 1880s-1917.” Inspired by the resurgence of nationalist rhetoric in Russia, the project seeks to look deeper into the philosophical roots of the imperialist narrative within Russian liberal tradition, beginning with such thinkers as Evgeniy Trubetskoi who advocated the principles of individual autonomy and personal rights but categorically rejected the idea of independent Ukraine in 1917.


The Emergence of Russian Liberalism: Alexander Kunitsyn in Context, 1783-1840. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Select Publications

• “Alexander Kunitsyn: Pioneer of Natural Law in Russia," in Valliere Paul and Randall A. Poole, eds., Law and the Christian Tradition in Modern Russia (Routledge: London, 2022), 92-112.

• “The Theme of Happiness and British Utilitarianism in Russian Thought, from the 1860s to the early 1880s,” Journal of Modern Russian History and Historiography, 14, no 2 (2021), 5-68.

• “J. S. Mill’s On Liberty in Russia: Democracy and Modernity in Focus,” Slavonic and East European Review, 97, no. 2 (2019), 266-98.

• “John Stuart Mill and his Autobiography in Imperial Russia,” The Journal of Modern Russian History and Historiography, 10, no. 1 (2017), 28-70.

• “J.S. Mill’s Principles of Political Economy in Imperial Russia: Publication and Reception,” Modern Intellectual History, 14, no. 1 (2017), 67-97.

• “The Reception of John Stuart Mill’s Feminist Thought in Imperial Russia,” Russian History, 43, no. 2 (2016), 101-42.

• “Feofan Prokopovich, The Truth of Monarch’s Will” In Mikhail Mikeshyn, ed. Philosophical Age. European Identity and Russian Mentality. St. Petersburg. 2001, 39-50.

Book Reviews

Liberal Ideas in Tsarist Russia: From Catherine the Great to the Russian Revolution by Vanessa Rampton (forthcoming from Canadian-American Slavic Studies, 2023)

The History of Liberalism in Russia by Victor Leontovitch (University of Pittsburg Press, 2012) Left History 16, no 2 (2012): 96-97.

Publications in Russian

• “Дж. Ст. Милль О Принципах Политической Экономии,” Российское Право Онлайн Московский Государственный Университет им. О. Е. Кутафина, 3 (2021), 71-79.

• “К вопросу об Интеллектуальной Оригинальности А. П. Куницына,” Российское Право Онлайн. Московский Государственный Университет им. О. Е. Кутафина, 1 (2021), 105-112.

• “Ранние Годы и Интеллектуальное Становление Куницына,” in С.А. Ершов, А.В. Большакова. Т.Н. Жуковская, eds., Для Блага Общего Александр Петрович Куницын – просветитель, правовед, государственный деятель (Санкт-Петербург: изд-во Дмитрий Буланин, 2018), 39-54.

Conferences and Invited Presentations

 • “The Theme of Happiness in Russian Thought, 1860s-1880s,” McCaffrey Seminar Series, Western University, Nov. 2020.

• “Crossing Borders and Cultural Frontiers: Translating and Reading John Stuart Mill in Russia,” Canadian Association of Slavists, Brock University, May 2014.

• “The Image and Reputation of John Stuart Mill in Late Imperial Russia,” International Society for Intellectual History, University of Toronto, June 2014.

• “The Reception of John Stuart Mill in Russia, 1860-1917,” New York State Association of European Historians, University of Rochester, Oct. 2013.

• “Early Russian Liberals: Dilemmas of Opposition,” Wayne State University, Detroit, USA, Apr. 2007.

• “Russian Iconography in the Context of Western Religious Art,” McCaffrey Memorial Graduate Seminar, University of Western Ontario, Nov. 2004.

• “Mass Consciousness and Official Ideology. The Idea of Patriarchalism in Russian Early Modern Culture,” International Student History Association, Heidelberg, Germany, Aug. 2003.

• “The Social Ethics in Russia in the 16th and 17th centuries,” International Student History Association, Helsinki, Finland, Apr. 2003.