Wilson Center Experts

Blair A. Ruble

Vice President for Programs; Director, Urban Sustainability Laboratory; and Senior Advisor, Kennan Institute
Urban Sustainability Laboratory

Contact Information:
T 202/691-4239 // F 202/691-4247
Arts and Literature
Race and Ethnicity
Urban Studies
Russia and Eurasia

Blair A. Ruble is currently Vice President for Programs at the Wilson Center, Director of the Urban Sustainability Laboratory, and Senior Advisor to the Kennan Institute.  Previously, he served as the long-time Director of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (1989-2012) as well as of the Wilson Center’s Comparative Urban Studies Program (1992-2012). A native of New York, Dr. Ruble worked previously at the Social Science Research Council in New York City, as well as at the National Council for Soviet and East European Research in Washington.

Dr. Ruble received his MA and PhD degrees in Political Science from the University of Toronto (1973, 1977), and an AB degree with Highest Honors in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1971). He has lectured widely and has been a scholar/lecturer-in-residence at the Juridical Faculty of Leningrad State University (1974-1975), the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1979, 1981, 1984, 1986), the Laboratoire de Geographie at the University of Paris-X (Nanterre) (2001, 2002), the Law Faculty of Kyoto University (1996, 2002, 2004), and the Academia di architettura at the Università della Svizzera italiana (Mendrisio) (2006).

Dr. Ruble latest work – Washington’s U Street: A Biography (2010) – explores the tentative mixing of classes and in one of the Nation Capital’s most important neighborhoods. This volume was reissued in paperback in 2012 and in a Russian language edition (2012).  His other book-length works include a trilogy examining the fate of Russian provincial cities during the twentieth century: Leningrad. Shaping a Soviet City (1990); Money Sings! The Changing Politics of Urban Space in Post-Soviet Yaroslavl (1995); and, Second Metropolis: Pragmatic Pluralism in Gilded Age Chicago, Silver Age Moscow, and Meiji Osaka (2001). Second Metropolis has been published in Russian (2004) and Ukrainian (2010) translation. In addition Dr. Ruble authored Creating Diversity Capital (2005) examining the changes in such cities as Montreal, Washington, D.C., and Kyiv brought about by the recent arrival of large transnational communities.  This work has appeared in Ukrainian translation (2007).

Dr. Ruble’s twenty edited works with several partners include: Urban Diversity (2010); Cities after the Fall of Communism (2009); Composing Urban History and the Constitution of Civic Identities (2003); Urban Governance around the World (2001); Preparing for the Urban Future (1996), and Russian Housing in the Modern Age (1993).  His articles have appeared in the American publications Urban AnthropologyJournal of Urban History, and Washington History, as well as in France's Annales, Economies, Societies, Civilisations, Japan's Ima Naze Toshika, Britain's Planning Perspectives and Urban Studies, Russia's Chelovek, Arkhitekton, Moskovskii zhurnal, Zvezda, and the Soviet-era Leningradskaia panorama.

Dr. Ruble has published in the opinion pages of The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Afro-American, and USA Today.  His media appearances include "ABC Evening News," "BBC International News," "CBC Morning News," "CBS Evening News," "NBC's The Today Show," “The Charlie Rose Show,” Russian NTV's news magazine "Itogi," Japanese NHK's morning news on television, as well as "The Larry King Radio Show," "The Kojo Nnambi Radio Show," and several Voice of America broadcasts.

Among Dr. Ruble’s commendations are: election to the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society at the University of North Carolina (1971), selection as Cultural Correspondent by the Japan Foundation (1989-1990), receipt of the United States Vice-President’s “Hammer Award” for Reinventing Government (1999), the Russian Federation’s Presidential Medal for Contributions to the City of St. Petersburg (2004), the Public Scholar in the Humanities Award of the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. (2011), and an Honorary Doctorate awarded by the Ukrainian Academy of Arts’ Modern Art Research Institute (2012). He was a member of the United States delegation to the Fifth World Urban Forum convened in Rio de Janeiro in March 2010, the Sixth World Urban Forum convened in Naples in September 2012, and the Seventh World Urban Forum convened in Medellin in March 2014. 

Major Publications

  • Washington's U Street: A Biography, (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010)
  • Creating Diversity Capital: Transnational Migrants in Montreal, Washington, and Kyiv (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005)
  • Second Metropolis: The Politics of Pragmatic Pluralism in Gilded Age Chicago, Silver Age Moscow, and Meiji Osaka (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001)
  • Money Sings: The Politics of Urban Space in Post-Soviet Yaroslavl (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University Press, 1995)
  • Leningrad: Shaping a Soviet City (University of California Press, 1990)


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