Dr. McDaniel is a historian who specializes in Russia and the Soviet Union with particular emphasis on Central Asia. His research, in large part, focuses on migration and the environment in the region of the Kazakh Steppe. Dr. McDaniel’s first major project – now manuscript in progress – is an analysis of the centrality of horses to the convergence of Russian and Soviet state power with both Slavic settler and indigenous Kazakh societies in the Kazakh Steppe. His research was funded primarily by the US Department of State’s Fulbright-Hays Program, allowing him to conduct archival fieldwork in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and St. Petersburg, Russia over the course of the 2017 calendar year.
Dr. McDaniel’s current project, still in its infancy, is an exploration of the Virgin Lands Campaign – Nikita Khrushchev’s ambitious plan to boost agricultural production in the Soviet Union by opening vast tracts of untilled land in the Kazakh Steppe and bordering regions. While the program initiated far-reaching environmental and societal change in Kazakhstan and beyond, relatively few works exist on the period. With the support of CU’s W.P. Bone Research Grant, he conducted preliminary field research in Kazakhstan for the project in the summer of 2023.
Amongst his other hobbies, Dr. McDaniel has a passion for foreign languages and travel. He has lived and traveled in Russia, Central Asia, and beyond and always loves to share his experiences with those wanting to hear more.
In January 2023, Dr. McDaniel was fortunate enough to travel to Riga, Latvia with students from across the country participating in the US Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth. At CU, he has helped initiate a travel abroad group which has two separate trips to Europe planned for the 2023-24 scholastic year.
Dr. McDaniel regularly teaches lower-division survey courses on Western Civilization (1715-Present) and World Civilization (1500-Present), and upper division courses on the Soviet Union, Central Asian History, and Comparative Empire, a course most recently focused on contextualizing Russian and the US expansion.
His research publications include: “Our Greatest Riches’: Horses at the Intersection of Settler and Kazakh Society in the Late Imperial Period.” Journal of Migration History 3 (2017): 210-228.
Manuscript: “Equine Empire: Horses and Power on the Kazakh Steppe, 1880s- 1920s.” (In Progress).
Dr. McDaniel’s awards include: Cumberland University- W.P. Bone Research Grant. 2023, Dissertation Completion Fellowship – Michigan State University – Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2019, Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grant (for fieldwork in Russia and Kazakhstan. 2017), and University of Illinois – Summer Research Lab Fisher Research Fellowship, 2015.