Speakers Fall 2014

Section 1



4 september - New Directions in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia

Is There Still an "Eastern" Europe?
4pm, 210 General Lounge, Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana

As communism started to collapse in 1989, many in the region aspired to a Europe "without adjectives," East or West. The democratic capitalist transition and accession to the European Union and NATO by most of the countries we knew as Eastern European might suggest the East-West distinction is no longer a relevant way for academics to think about politics on the continent. This lecture will deal with how political scientists have approached that question, drawing in particular on the research of Carol Leff (Associate Professor of Political Science, Illinois) into post-communist elite transformation and ethnic minority politics.

Co-sponsored by: European Union Center

9 september - noontime scholars lecture

Strung Out: Chekhov's Neurasthenics, Trauma, and Nineteenth Century Models of Nervous Shock
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

In Russia, as in Western Europe, the second half of the nineteenth century saw an explosion of interest in the psychological life of man. Two dominant discourses led the investigations into the human psyche and often competed with one another in the cultural sphere: the newly professionalizing sciences of the mind (psychiatry, neurology, psychology, etc.), and the psychological fiction of the Russian Golden Age. Both discourses claimed special knowledge of the human mind and constructed overarching claims as to what constituted psychic and moral health of individuals and extended those claims to the health and future survival of nations. As both a practicing physician and the last lauded representative of the Golden Age of Russian literature, Anton Chekhov provides a fascinating insight into the close relationship between science and literature around the fin-de-siecle. Taking into account Chekhov's extensive knowledge of the developments in the scientific views of the mind, Anya Hamrick-Nevinglovskaya (Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative and World Literatures, Illinois) explores the extent to which he both upholds and challenges those dominant scientific assumptions in his fiction. The presentation focuses on Chekhov's characters who, either explicitly or implicitly, suffer from neurasthenia, an enigmatic, fashionable nervous disease "discovered" in the 1860s and widely spread at the turn of the century. The paper situates the scientific and cultural discourses on neurasthenia within the greater context of the rapidly evolving theorizations of the nervous system in the nineteenth century. It also explores the connections between neurasthenia and present-day trauma theory. Ultimately, the presentation pays particular attention to the conflict between the often physiologically grounded conceptualizations of the mind predominant in nineteenth century sciences and the more psychologically oriented views of the psyche in Chekhov's work, which at times anticipates the later theories of psychoanalysis.

30 September - noontime scholars lecture

Gothic Ruins: The Ghost of the Ukrainian Past in Panteleimon Kulish's novel Mykhailo Charnyshenko, or Little Russia Eighty Years Ago
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

Valeria Sobol (Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Illinois) presents on part of her book project Haunted Empire: The Russian Literary Gothic and the Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1950. The book argues that in Russian literature, the empire's peripheries are consistently depicted as dangerous, ambiguous places that destabilize the characters' imperial identities. They become sites of the imperial uncanny, a fictional space into which the empire protected its colonial fantasies and anxieties, and where, through Gothic tropes, it produced the doubles and monsters that continue to haunt Russia's historical imagination. Haunted Empire focuses on two spaces of internal otherness that figure prominently in the Russian Gothic: the Baltic/Scandiavian "North" and the Ukrainian "South." In this presentation, Prof. Sobol, will discuss the historical novel Mykhailo Charnyshenko, or Little Russia Eighty Years Ago, written by the prominent Ukrainian writer Panteleimon Kulish in 1843. The novel attempts to conjure the ghost of the Ukrainian "authentic" and heroic past, before the Russian Empire fully incorporated this region in the late eighteenth century, and produces a vision of its relative cultural independence and chivalric tradition in Gothic-fantastic imagery. The mixed reception of the novel in the Russian press, ranging from admiration for its heroic and folkloric motifs to denying Ukraine any historical past whatsover, encapsulates the imperial fantasies and fears provoked by the literature of the imperial uncanny.


7 october - noontime scholars lecture

The Ascendancy of Nationalism in Central Asia
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

This presentation considers the state (or status) and intra-regional conditions of political sovereignty in post-Soviet Central Asia. The argument to be made is not exactly one of success or failure, but rather examines the very successes and failures that exist in Central Asia from the standpoints of political integrity and political development - despite or because of dictatorial rule and concomitant degrees of freedom of conscience and economic decision-making. Recently, scholars and pundits have meaningfully examined many hyper-nationalist aspects of the Central Asian countries' politics. The basic argument here is that nationalism has prevented the kind of intra-regional cooperation that would have fueled greater development and freedom throughout Central Asia. Generally speaking, nationalism may be necessary to independence, but it is rarely considered positive in terms of development and human freedom by most social scientists. While there may be much to recommend this position, Russell Zanca (Associate Professor of Anthropology, Northeastern Illinois University) looks to data and analyzes history from more than 20 years prior to compare different visions of independence, areas for national and regional comity and strife, and treaties and agreements that have fostered and foiled individual and regional growth and freedom.

20 October - New DIrections in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia

"You Can't Study these Things from Moscow": Soviet Social Science and the Problem of Development in Soviet Central Asia
4pm, 126 Graduate School of Library and Information Science Building, 501 E Daniel St, Champaign

By the 1970s, Soviet planners were fretting that the industrialization of Central Asia, launched in the 1950s, was failing to bring the desired dividends to the Soviet economy or the local population. Locals tended to avoid the industrial labor force and seemed to shy away from educational opportunities, while agriculture remained labor intensive and resistant to mechanization. Economists, sociologists, and demographers tried to make sense of this situation and offer sound policy advice. In the process, they discovered the limits of their own fields and sought out new approaches to better understand the micro-processes inhibiting modernization. Examining the academic debates and bureaucratic struggles of these scholars will shed light on the interaction between government and scholarship under late socialism, and then parallels between development thought there and in the West. It will also help us contextualize and historicize current debates about development in Central Asia.

Artemy M. Kalinovsky is Assistant Professor of East European Studies at the University of Amsterdam and the author of A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2011). He holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

23 october - bill pigman

The Profits and Peril of Doing Business in Moscow
4pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

Bill Pigman is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since June of 1996, Mr. Pigman has been the owner of WPG International, located in Russia. He is also a commercial director for Transport Link Services LLC, and has been for more than ten years. Mr. Pigman, who graduated from UIUC in 1964, is an engineering entrepreneur and has resided in Russia the last twenty years. His interest in Russia started in the 1950s and 1960s, and was largely influenced by his Marxist father. Mr. Pigman is excited to speak at the University of Illinois about his work and life in Russia, especially about the distinct differences between present-day Russia and the years immediately following the dissolution of the USSR.


5 November - Michael Naydan

Taras Shevchenko: The Monument, The Poet, and The Man
4:30pm, Lucy Ellis Lounge, Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave.., Urbana

The first part of Michael Naydan's presentation will begin by examining the symbolic nature of monuments to the great Ukrainian national poet Taras Shevchenko on the 200th anniversary of his birth. This indicates what Shevchenko means to Ukrainian culture in the context of world culture. Naydan will later focus on specific reasons why Shevchenko holds such an exalted status in Ukrainian culture through examples from the poet's life and poetry. Besides to Slavicists, the discussion should also be of interest to those genuinely interested in colonial and post-colonial studies as well as those interested in the Russian Empire of Shevchenko's time as it is reflected in the attempt to reconstruct the Russian Empire today.

Michael Naydan is Woskob Family Professor of Ukrainian Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and works primarily in the fields of Ukrainian and Russian literature and literary translation. He has published over 30 articles on literary topics and more than 60 translations in journals and anthologies. Of his 28 books of published and edited translations, his most recent include Herstories: An Anthology of Contemporary Ukrainian Women Prose Writers (2014) and Nadezhda Ptushkina's selected plays (co-translated with Slava Yastremski) The War of the Sexes Russian Style: Selected Plays of Nadezhda Ptushkina (2013), both released by Glagoslav Publishers, and The Essential Poetry of Taras Shevchenko (2014), published by Piramida Publishers. He has received numerous prizes for his translations, most recently the George S.N. Luckyj Award in Ukrainian Literature Translation (2013) from the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies.

Co-sponsored by: Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

10 November - millercom lecture series

From the Great War to the Bloodlands: Rethinking Europe's History
3pm, Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana

Europe's early 20th century was an era of unprecedented brutality in human history - the 16 million dead of World War I, followed in short order by the 60 million casualties of World War II. Historian Timothy Snyder, the foremost scholar of the period, presents his path-breaking interpretation of Europe's Bloodlands, offering a new theory of political violence in the modern times.

Timothy Snyder received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. Before joining the faculty at Yale in 2001, he held fellowships in Paris and Vienna, and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard. He is the author of five award-winning books, including Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist's Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine (Yale Press, 2005) and The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (Basic Books, 2008). His most recent book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books, 2010), a history of Nazi and Soviet mass killing on the lands between Berlin and Moscow. It has received a number of honors, including the Leipzig Prize for European Understanding and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award in the Humanities. It was named a book of the year by some dozen publications, has been translated into more than twenty languages, and was a bestseller in four countries..

Co-sponsored by: Program in Jewish Culture and Society; Department of Anthropology; Department of History; Department of English; Department of French; Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Department of Sociology; Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies; Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities; Spurlock Museum; European Union Center; Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center


2 december - Noontime scholars lecture

Innocence and Victimhood: Gender, Nation, and Women's Activism in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina
12pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S Fifth St, Champaign

This talk will present the main arguments and selected ethnographic examples from the recently published book Innocence and Victimhood (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013) by Elissa Helms. The 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina following the dissolution of socialist Yugoslavia became notorious for "ethnic cleansing" and mass rapes targeting the Bosniac (Bosnian Muslim) population. Postwar social and political processes have continued to be dominated by competing nationalisms representing Bosniacs, Serbs, Croats as well as those supporting the multi-ethnic Bosnian state, in which narratives of victimhood take center stage, often in gendered form. The book shows that in the aftermath of the war, initiatives by and for Bosnian women perpetuated and complicated dominant images of women as victims and peacemakers in a conflict and political system led by men. In a sober corrective to such accounts, she offers a critical look at the politics of women's activism, and gendered nationalism in a postwar and postsocialist society. Drawing on ethnographic research spanning fifteen years, Innocence and Victimhood demonstrates how women activists responded to, challenged, and often reinforced essentialist images in affirmative ways, utilizing the moral purity associated with the position of victimhood to bolser social claims, pursue foreign funding, and wage campaigns for postwar justice. Deeply sensitive to the suffering at the heart of Bosnian women's (and men's) wartime experiences, this book also reveals the limitations to strategies that emphasize innocence and victimhood.

Elissa Helms, a cultural anthropologist, is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Gender Studies at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. Her research and teaching focus on gender and nationalism, postconflict and postsocialist transformations, women's NGO activism, and representations of the Balkans and Muslim societies. Her publications on various aspects of women's activism, gender, and representation after the Bosnian war have appeared in Slavic Review, Focaal, Nationalities Papers, Women's Studies International Forum, and a number of edited collections. She is the author of Innocence and Victimhood: Gender, Nation, and Women's Activism in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013) and co-editor with Xavier Bougarel and Ger Duijzings of The New Bosnian Mosaic: Identities, Memories, and Moral Claims in a Post-war Society (Ashgate, 2007).

Co-sponsored by: Women and Gender in Global Perspective; Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies; European Union Center


Speakers Spring 2014

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