Michigan State University

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Olcott, Martha

Visiting Professor

Case Hall
842 Chestnut Rd Room S302
East Lansing, MI 48825


Dr. Martha Brill Olcott is a senior associate with the Russia Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., and the co-director of the al-Farabi Carnegie Program on Central Asia in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  She specializes in the problems of transitions in Central Asia and the Caucasus as well as the security challenges in the Caspian region more generally. She has followed interethnic relations in Russia and the states of the former Soviet Union for more than 25 years and has traveled extensively in these countries and in South Asia.

In addition to her work in Washington in Almaty, Olcott codirects the Carnegie Moscow Center Project on Religion, Society, and Security in the former Soviet Union. She is also a visiting professor at the James Madison College, Michigan State University, and a professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Colgate University. As a member of Colgate’s faculty since 1975, she served as chairman of the department of political science from July 1984 through June 1990.  Professor Olcott received her BA from SUNY Buffalo in 1970, and her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1978.

In July, 1994 Dr. Olcott was named by President Clinton to be a Director of the Central Asian American Enterprise Fund and in 1999 was named Vice Chairman. Earlier she held a formal appointment as Consultant on Central Asian Affairs for former Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. Dr. Olcott has also served as a consultant for a number of business firms interested in Central Asia, including Unocal, Placer Dome, and Cameco.

Martha Olcott is also a prolific author, and has published numerous articles in academic journals and books.  She is the author of Tajikistan’s Difficult Development Path (Carnegie Endowment, 2012), In the Whirlwind of Jihad (Carnegie Endowment, 2012), Central Asia’s Second Chance (Carnegie Endowment, 2005); Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2002), Preventing New Afghanistans: A Regional Strategy for Reconstruction  (Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief 11, 2001); The Kazaks (Hoover Institution, Stanford University Press, 1987, second revised edition 1995), The New States of Central Asia (United States Institute of Peace, 1996), and a co-author of Getting It Wrong: Regional Cooperation and the Commonwealth of Independent States (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1999). Her latest books,.

Soon after 9/11, she was selected by Washingtonian magazine for its list of “71 People the President Should Listen To” about the war on terrorism.