Speakers Spring 2014

Section 1



30 january - New Directions in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia

Improvement in Reproductive Health in Central Asia: How Much and for Whom?
4pm, Msgr. Swetland Assembly Room, St. John's Catholic Newman Center, 604 E. Armory Ave., Champaign

The past two decades are marked with extensive national and international efforts to improve reproductive health across Central Asia. Focused primarily upon improving familiarity with modern contraception, these programs coincide with signicant increases in marital contraceptive use and declining fertility. Yet, improvements among other indicators of reproductive health, including broad based contraceptive familiarity, accurate knowledge relating to sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and access to medical care, remain modest. Substantial differentials in reproductive health remain by age, education, and rural/urban residence in the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Using Demographic and Health Surveys and Multi-Cluster Indicator Surveys from 1999 through 2011, public health records, governmental records, and interviews with clients, Cynthia Buckley (Professor of Sociology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) re-examines "improvements" in reproductive health, tracing patterns of improvement across demographic, social and cultural sub groups within each country. Findings indicate persistently poor reproductive health knowledge, particularly among the young, unmarried, non-titular, and rural residents of Central Asia. These results raise serious questions concerning the efficacy of program interventions in the region, the responsiveness of programs to previous criticisms in the area of reproductive health in the Middle East and South Asia, and the success of reproductive health partnerships with authoritarian regimes.



11 february - noontime scholars lecture

Orthodox Travel and the Conquering of the Kazakh Steppe
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

By the early 20th century, Asiatic Russia constituted a favorite destination for adventurers, explorers, ethnographers, missionaries, and many others enticed by the eastern half of the Russian empire. Men and women, of Russian and foreign descent, mustered their courage, braved local conditions, and lived to tell others of their exploits in publised accounts of their travels. Yet, it was not only outsiders who shared their impressions of the land and the people. Local Orthodox clergymen also published descriptions of their travel experiences during this period. This presentation will analyze articles published in Omsk Diocesan Gazette by Orthodox clergymen about their travels through the Kazakh steppe. Using these sources, Aileen Friesen (Postdoctoral Fellow, REEEC) will explore the ways in which the Orthodox Church used spiritualized travel in its quest to transform historically non-Orthodox lands into a stronghold of the church.

14 February - Roundtable on the ukrainian protests

Understanding the Ukrainian Maidan: Between Russia and the EU
1pm, 126 Graduate School of Library and Information Science Building, 501 E Daniel St, Champaign

On November 2013, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich refused to sign the European Union Association Agreement, after years of negotiation. As a result, chaos and protests flared up on the capital city Kiev's main square, which the locals call Maidan. Since the Orange Revolution of 2004, the Maidan has symbolized freedom. A roundtable, featuring Illinois experts on Ukraine, will discuss the country's current events, the implications of the ongoing political protests, and the enduring symbol of the Maidan.

  • Carol Leff, Associate Professor, Political Science
  • Kostas Kourtikakis, Lecturer, Poltical Science
  • Oleksandra Wallo, Lecturer, Slavic Languages and Literatures


Organized by: Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center; European Union Center

Co-sponsored by: Pi Sigma Alpha

20 february - New directions in russia, eastern europe, and eurasia

Biography as History: The Case of the Bulgarian Communist Functionary Tsola Dragoitcheva (1898-1993)
4pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

The lecture, based on the life trajectory of Tsola Dragoitcheva, a Bulgarian political functionary during the state socialism, presents (her) biography as a useful historical tool which would help scholars to find the balance between treating women from the past patriarchal contexts as agents of change or as constrained by the specific historical structures. It is a contribution to the ongoing historical debate regarding women's situation in the East European state socialist countries during the Cold War period.

Krassimira Daskalova is Professor of Modern European Cultural History at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, in Bulgaria. Her most recent monograph is Women, Gender, and Modernization in Bulgaria, 1878-1944 (in Bulgarian), published by Sofia University Press in 2012. From 2005-2010, Daskalova served as the president of the International Federation for Research in Women's History. Since 2007, she has been the editor and book review editor of Asphasia: The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History, published by Berghahn Books in New York. Daskalova has been awarded fellowships from a number of prestigious organizations, including the DADD (the German Academic Exchange Service), the Fulbright Program, the Japanese Association of University Women, the Korber Foundation and the Institute for Human Science, the Indiana University Institute for Advanced Study, and others. Her book A Biographical Dictionary of Women's Movements and Feminisms: Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe: 19th and 20th Centuries (Central European University Press, 2006), co-edited with Francisca De Haan and Anna Loutfi, was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2006. Currently, Krassimira Daskalova is a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

Co-sponsored by: Department of Sociology; Department of History; European Union Center; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

26 february - Roundtable panel discussion with members of Chicago Consular corps

The EU's Big Bang and Beyond: A Decade After Eastern Enlargement
12pm, Alice Campbell Alumni Center, 601 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana

  • Marijus Gudynas, Consul General of Lithuania in Chicago
  • Simeon Stoilov, Consul General of Bulgaria in Chicago
  • Robert Rusiecki, Deputy Consul General of Poland in Chicago
  • George Predescu, Consul General of Romania in Chicago


Co-sponsored by: European Union Center; Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center

27 february - john jurisic

White City: A Photographer's Retrospective on the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics
4pm, 1090 Lincoln Hall, 702 S. Wright St., Urbana

John (Ivica) Jurisic is currently a resident of the Southside of Chicago, IL.  He was born in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he spent most of his life until he started college in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1964. He studied law and music for a short period of time in Zagreb, but because of his financial instability and the great expenses of new musical instruments, he left Zagreb and embarked for better opportunities elsewhere. He moved to England for a couple of months, and then to France where he lived for three years. With an offer to play soccer for a Canadian league near the end of 1968, John took the opportunity and moved to Canada. His dissatisfaction with the soccer league, however, forced him to move back to his hometown of Banja Luka in 1969.  After a bad earthquake hitting Banja Luka, most of the buildings were damaged, and John had nowhere to stay so he embarked on another journey to Paris, France. Shortly after residing in France, he received another offer to continue playing soccer in Canada, with more incentives and promises from the league. After moving to Canada again, he realized the empty promises and left for the United States.

John Jurisic has been living in Chicago since 1970. He worked as a construction worker and really enjoyed it because of the leisurely and relaxing atmosphere. He liked that if a mistake was made, it was easily fixed unlike in other jobs. In addition, when he was done with work, he was able to utilize his time doing things dear to his heart. He was a construction worker by day, photographer by night and a musician by weekend. He has always had a passion for photography, which is the reason it has stuck with him since the early 1960s when he didn’t even have a camera, but nonetheless followed his dreams. In the U.S., he was able to photograph basketball, tennis, car racing, football and other sporting events. However, it was hard for John to make a career out of photography and provide for his family, which is why it always remained as a side hobby/interest.

Among John's other interests are the photography of architecture and the landscape of cities, including Chicago. He has never expected his photography to have any significant value as much as it does today, especially for the Bosnian community in Chicago. The first anniversary that the Sarajevo Olympics were celebrated was for 15 years, and then came the anniversary for 20, then 25, and now the 30-year anniversary. He continues to entertain himself with photography during his free time and to love it.

In conjunction with the exhibit "The Sarajevo Winter Olympics: A Photo and Media Retrospective" (February 8-28, 2014, in the North/South Corridor of the Main Library)

Co-sponsored by: International and Area Studies Library; Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center; European Union Center

28 february - Ambassador Ian C. Kelly, U.S. Department of State

The U.S., Russia, and Bridging the East-West Divide
12pm, 1000 Lincoln Hall, 702 S. Wright St., Urbana

Ian C. Kelly is the Diplomat in Residence for the Midwest, based at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  He was most recently (from March 2010 to September 2013) the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in Vienna, Austria. From December 2012 to September 2013, he was concurrently the U.S. Co-Chair of the Minsk Group, the negotiating process set up to resolve the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno Karabakh.

From May 2009 until his appointment as ambassador, he was the Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State. Ambassador Kelly’s previous assignments include Director of the Office of Russian Affairs in Washington, D.C., Public Affairs Advisor at the U.S. Mission to NATO, Press Attaché at Embassy Rome, Press Attaché at Embassy Ankara,Information Center Director in Belgrade, and Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer in Moscow. He has also had several regional assignments that took him to all fifteen former Soviet republics.

He has studied Italian, Serbo-Croatian and Turkish at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center of the State Department. He also speaks Russian. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Kelly taught Russian at Columbia University, and received his doctorate there in Slavic Languages and Literatures in 1986. He also holds a B.A. from St. Olaf College and a M.A. from Northwestern University.

The lecture draws on his experience working on Russian affairs, and takes a historical look at the Helsinki Process and at the U.S.-Russia relationship in a multilateral context.

Co-sponsored by: International Programs and Studies; Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center; European Union Center; Department of Political Science; Center for Global Studies; Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security



5 march - Salih Brkic

Salih Brkic: Bosnian Journalist and Filmmaker
4pm, 66 Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana

Salih Brkic is a war crimes investigative journalist from Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has been a professional journalist for more than 37 years with a strong focus on Srebrenica, his "wound." He has made the documentaries Lovac Na Pravdu (Hunter: Return to Justice), which NBC has filmed; Nermine; Lampa iz Spilje Polja; Ubijali Su i Nerodenu Djecu; Skorpioni Streljane Djece iz Srebenice; and 12 Godina Muke Fate Orlovic, which received an International Award and international acknowledgement.

Co-sponsored by: Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center; European Union Center; Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies; Center for Global Studies; Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

11 march - Jean Monnet "Eastern Europe and Eu Integration" lecture series

Europe and the Collapse of Yugoslavia: The Role of Non-State Actors and European Diplomacy
2:30pm, Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building, Urbana

Branislav Radeljic is Associate Professor of International Politics in the School of Law and Social Sciences at the University of East London, and Visiting Faculty Fellow of the Telluride Association and the Department of History at the University of Michigan.

Co-sponsored by: European Union Center; Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center



15 april - Noontime scholars lecture

Displacement Effects on Gender Roles, Family Structure and Ethnic Identity: Muslim Meskhetians in the USA
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

Ekaterine Pirtskhalava (Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, REEEC Visiting Scholar) will examine the processes of influence relocation to the USA on the lives of the Muslim Meskhetians. The Muslim Meskhetians, who originate in the territory of Georgia, have been subject to external rule and multiple forced displacements. Most recently, in 2005, a large number of Meskhetian Muslims were granted refugee status and resettled in the United States. Guided by previous studies of cultural adaptation and identity maintenance, Prof. Pirtskhalava explores how this group has negotiated resettlement to the United States. Combining in-depth interviews with immigrants, who live in the states of Pennsylvania and Illinois, she will illustrate the changes Muslim Meskhetians underwent in several important areas such as the family structure and family relationships, male and female roles in the family, and their ethnic identity.

21 april - Jessica Greenberg

After the Revolution: Youth, Democracy and the Politics of Disappointment in Serbia
4pm, 123 David Kinley Hall, 1407 W Gregory Dr, Urbana

What happens to student activism once mass protests have disappeared from view, and youth embody the political frustrations, rather than the hopes of a nation? After the Revolution chronicles the lives of student activists as they confront the possibilities and disappointments of democracy in the shadow of the recent political transformation in Serbia.

Jessica Greenberg is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Illinois. Her research focuses on the anthropology of democracy in the Balkans and Europe - more broadly, post-revolutionary politics, youth, and post-socialist studies. Her research on student activists in Serbia has led her to track and analyze the conditions of possibility for transformative politics in the post-Cold War period, and the ways in which contemporary democracies are shaped by the imaginaries and expectations of earlier political forms and practices. Her book entitled After the Revolution: Youth, Democracy and the Politics of Disappointment in Serbia was published by Stanford University Press in 2014. Her work has appeared in American Anthropologist, Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR), Eastern European Politics and Societies, Slavic Review, Language and Communication, and Nationalities Papers. Prior to coming to Illinois, Greenberg was an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and an assistant professor in Communication Studies at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2007.

Co-sponsored by: European Union Center; Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center

22 april - Noontime scholars lecture

"Roadlessness" and the State in Soviet Tajikistan, 1925-1935
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

When the Soviet republic of Tajikistan was established in 1924, officials saw it as little more than an idea. It had had borders and a government, but it had never hosted a car or a train or any industrial economic activity. This lecture will explore the ways that the Communists worked to overcome what they saw as the isolation and "roadlessness" (bezdorozhnost') of the territory in order to fulfill political geography through economic development. Efforts to establish land transportation were meant to support the foundation of large-scale cotton agriculture in southern regions of the new republic as the basis of a new economy. More fundamentally, they were a way of physically altering the natural landscape to create a built environment for the state. This lecture will show that Tajikistan's almost entirely mountaineous terrain persistently interrupted and interfered with road projects and frequently influenced the routes they could follow. The impact of the natural environment on early work plans demonstrated demonstrated the weakness of the Soviet state, and the instability of its geography. Because planners, engineers, laborers, and others often found themselves compromising with the natural environment on behalf of the state, through efforts they saw as extraordinary and unanticipated, the process of developing Soviet mobility in southern Central Asia frequently determined the pace and scale of efforts to realize Communist ambitions and planning in Tajikistan.

Patryk Reid is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is writing a dissertation entitled "Managing Nature, Constructing the State: The Material Foundation of Soviet Empire in Tajikistan, 1917-37."

24 april - New Directions in RUssia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia

Reinventing Russia: Modernist Myth-Making and National Self-Identity, 1898-1914
4pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

This presentation frames the immanent impact the cultural tradition and innovation in Russia had on the development of national self-identity as well as on the shaping of Russian Modernist aesthetics in the early 20th century, from Diaghilev's Ballets Russes to the Futurist art and poetry.

Nina Gourianova is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Northwestern University. Her scholarship in the fields of literature and art history encompasses both Russian and European modernist and avant-garde movements, with a specific emphasis on the interrelation and mutual influence of aesthetics and politics. Gourianova served as the primary curatorical consultant to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) on the exhibition of Russian Futurist and Constructivist books in 2002, and participated in the organization of many exhibitions, including "Amazons of the Avant-garde" and "Kazimir Malevich" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and "Cubisti e Cubismo" in Rome (2013). She has published extensively in Europe, the United States and Russia. Her most recent book The Aesthetics of Anarchy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012) won the 2013 AATSEEL (American Association for the Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages) Best Book in Literary/Cutural Studies annual award. It explores the question of art and ideology in the pre-revolutionary Russian avant-garde.



Speakers Fall 2013

Section 1



12 SEPTEMBER - New Directions in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia

Marking Time: Modernism and Belatedness in the Writing of David Bergelson
5pm, Msgr. Swetland Assembly Room, St. John's Catholic Newman Center, 604 E. Armory Ave., Champaign

Harriet Murav has been Professor of history Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative and World Literatures since 2002 and currently serves as Editor of Slavic Review. Her most recent book is Music from a Speeding Train: Jewish Literature in Post-Revolution Russia, published by Stanford University Press in 2011. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship for this study in 2006, and it was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title in 2013. She was an External Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center during 2012-2013. Her lecture today is part of her current book project. It is an exploration of the different dimensions of belatedness in Bergelson's early fiction, in the context of early twentieth century theoretical and artistic inquiries about memory, time, and consciousness.

17 SEPTEMBER - Noontime Scholar lecture

Ghostwriting: Erenburg's and Grossman's Black Book on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

Anja Tippner, Professor of Slavic Literature and Culture at Hamburg University, will discuss a World War II collection of testimonies, letters, and other kinds of documentary material started by Ilya Erenburg and Vasilii Grossman in order to publish a Black Book on the Holocaust. They enlisted several well-known Soviet writers "among them Viktor Shklovsky, Margarita Aliger, Vera Inber, and Veniamin Kaverin" in order to edit, rewrite and work on the received documents as well as contribute their own testimonial accounts of the German politics of mass murder on Soviet soil. The presentation will focus on the text that make up the Black Book, not as historical documents, but as a literary text and will discuss questions of authorship and testimony, collective writing and the possibilities of remembering the Holocaust within the frame of Soviet discourse on World War II.


What Can Afghanistan, Kosova, and Poland Tell Us About American Universities? Or How Area Studies Can Anchor Cosmopolitan Intellectuality and Consequential Solidarity
4pm, 126 Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 501 E Daniel St, Champaign

Drawing on his recently completed manuscript "Articulations of Globalizing Knowledge," Michael Kennedy will address scholarship in and on Afghanistan, Kosova and Poland to reconsider how research and teaching can simultaneously recognize the challenge of difference and the ties that bind us. In particular, by comparing Poland's Solidarnosc in the 1980s, Kosova's Vetevendosje and the international aid complex surrounding Afghanistan in this last decade, he will invite the campus community and the public at large to explore how material and symbolic structures interact to shape university priorities, and how universities can navigate those terrains to realize a greater institutional, intellectual, and global responsibility.

Michael D. Kennedy is Professor of Sociology and International Studies at Brown University's Watson Institute and the Department of Sociology. With an initial interest on the place of intellectual and professionals in East European social movements and systemic change, he now works on cultural politics, knowledge networks and global transformations. His most recent publications have addressed universities and social movements in these terms.

Co-sponsored by

Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center

Center for Advanced Study

Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

International Programs and Studies

European Union Center

Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security

Center for Global Studies

Department of Sociology


The Diseased Body Politic: Paid Sex and the State in Imperial Eastern Europe
4pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

Educated Eastern Europe was gripped by an extended moral panic in the waning years of the nineteenth century. Unbridled and aggressive sex workers lined city streets and filled the venereal wards at local hospitals as government officials, physicians and moral reformers across the region proposed competing remedies for the wave of public immorality and its attendant diseases. In the divided Polish lands, discussion of paid sex became a foil for debating issues of gender, sexuality, and deviant behavior in a future sovereign state. This presentation examines the shifting approaches to prostitutes and prostitution in partitioned Poland. What role should these immoral "dregs" play in the formation of the "us" that would form the basis for a new Polish society? Should they remain outsiders, or would "modern" Polish actors devise a language of inclusion to address the problems these new citizens presented? The lecture assesses the dramatic shifts that attended debates about prostitution in Eastern Europe as the focus moved from one of traditional morality to a medical model of social reform.

Keely Stauter-Halsted is Professor of History and Hejna Family Chair in Polish Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago. She specializes on the history of modern Eastern Europe, Poland, Jewish history, gender history, and the Holocaust. Her talk will be based on her current book project.




His Excellency Mr. Zeljko Komsic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina
12pm, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Room 126

President Zeljko Komsic is the Croat member of the three-person Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He received degrees from the Law School at the University in Sarajevo and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He was first elected in 2006 and reelected in 2010. He currently serves as Chairman of the three-person Presidency.


Communities, Connections, and Homelands
3pm, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Room 126

Roundtable discussion of the Bosnian diaspora with closing remarks from Zeljko Komsic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regarding the relationship between Bosnia and the diaspora community in the U.S. Panelists include Judith Pintar, Rob Whiting, Joe Lenkart, Richelle Bernazzoli, and Ryan Haynes.

29 october - Noontime scholar lecture

Salome's dance and Herod's banquet in Russian culture
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

Rosina Neginsky is Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, where she teaches Comparative Literature and Art History.  Her area of expertise is English, French and Russian art and literature between 1850 and 1920.  She is the author of the book Zinaida Vengerova: In Search of Beauty.  A Literary Ambassador between East and West, she is the author of numerous articles on Russian and European artists, poets and writers and of several books of poetry, of which the most recent is Juggler.  She is the president and founder of the international interdisciplinary organization Art, Literature, Music in Symbolism and Decadence (ALMSD), and the editor of the volume Symbolism, Its Origins and Its Consequences.  She has received several awards from the National Endowment for Humanities and IREX, and is a 2008 recipient of the University Scholar Award, the most prestigious award which the University of Illinois gives to members of the faculty..



The Velizh Affair: Ritual Murder in a Russian Border Town
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

Eugene M. Avrutin is Associate Professor of Modern European Jewish history and the Tobor family scholar in the Program of Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia (2010). Together with Harriet Murav (Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois) and Petersburg Judaica (a Jewish Studies institute affiliated with the European University in St. Petersburg), he edited Photographing the Jewish Nation: Pictures from S. An-sky's Ethnographic Expeditions (2009), which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in the visual arts category. Most recently, he edited with Robert H. Greene (Professor of Russian history at the University of Montana) a critical edition of the memoirs of the educator and feminist Anna Vygodskaia (2012). Supported by a Charles Ryskamp fellowship from the ACLS, Avrutin is currently working on a microhistory of a sensational ritual murder that took place in Velizh in the second quarter of the nineteenth century (1823-1835).

7 NOVEMBER - new directions in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia

Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams
4pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

Odessa was the Russian Empire's gateway to the Middle East, its foremost commercial port, and home to one of the most progressive and successful Jewish communities in all of Europe. When Mark Twain visited, he found its vibrant mix of nationalities, religions, and social classes to be American in miniature. But in the twentieth century, the city of creative strivers started down a long road toward ruin. Pogroms devastated the Jewish community. The Russian civil war brought refugees and new rulers, the Bolsheviks. During the Second World War, the occupation government of Nazi-allied Romania killed tens of thousands of Jews in one of the untold episodes of the Holocaust. Charles King will discuss his recent book Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams and, in particular, the book's new archival research on the origins of the city's Holocaust experience.

Charles King is Professor International Affairs and Government at Georgetown University. He lectures widely on international affairs, social violence, and ethnic politics, and has worked with major broadcast media such as CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC, the History Channel, and MTV. He previously served as chairman of the faculty of Georgetown's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He is the author of five books, including Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams, which received the National Jewish Books Award; The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus, which was named "History Book of the Year" by the Moscow Times; and The Black Sea: A History. King's articles and commentary have appeared in magazines and newspapers such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Times Literary Supplement, as well as in leading academic journals. He studied history and philosophy at the University of Arkansas and later earned master's and doctoral degrees at Oxford University, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. Before coming to Georgetown, he was a junior research fellow at New College, Oxford, and a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. His new book, about a legendary grand hotel and the experience of exile in 1930s Istanbul, will be published next year.

12 November - Noontime Scholar lecture

Andrzej Stasiuk and the Myth of the Literary Gastarbajter
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

Professor Gasyna reads Andrzej Stasiuk's autobiographical quasi-travelogue Dojczland (2007) in the context of the modalities and mythologies of Polish migrations to Wester Europe, particularly Germany, in the late-communist and post-communist periods. In this provocative yet melancholy text, Stasiuk delineates for himself, as well as for other "migrants" who work in the cultural field, broadly conceived, and who might follow in his footsteps, a subject-position of the other -- a willful quasi-barbarian from the east arriving in the garden of the civilized west. Referring to himself as a literary "gastarbajter,"a self-affixed tag which he seeks to reinforce through a discourse of Slavic-Germanic incommensurability, Stasiuk -- possibly Poland's foremost literary voice today, and a fairly well-known author in Germany -- situates Poland's neighbor to the west as a place suitable principally for labor, whatever form it make take, but not for meaningful cultural interchange. For Stasiuk, in the (invariably mythologized) lived experience which trumps the integrationist initiatives and various other "marketing" ventures of EU expansion, Germany remains unknown and unknowable in its essence. Indeed what the Pole in Germany -- or another marginal migrant to Germany -- can hope for, at best, is an experience precisely of a "Dojczland": an intermediary imagined entity, comprised half of desire and half of prejudice, and ruled over by a foreign semiotic system. In this work, Stasiuk seems to be suggesting that by Polonizing the name of the host nation, the migrant may strategically obtain a certain comfort of re-territorialization, but by the same token, in so doing, s/he can never access the lived reality of the other.

George Gasyna is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Comparative and World Literatures at the University of Illinois. His research interests are in twentieth-century Polish literature, exile and emigration as discourse and practice, modernism/postmodernism/avant-garde, diasporic and minority cultures, and Jewish-Polish relations. He is the author of Polish, Hybrid, and Otherwise: Exilic Discourse in Joseph Conrad and Witold Gombrowicz (2011). His current book project is A Time for the Province: Twentieth Century Polish Borderland Literature.


These speaker events are funded in part by the Department of Education Title VI grant for the National Resource Centers Program