Speakers Spring 2016

Section 1

Content

February

15 February - Anna Shternshis "Machine guns, mothers' Graves and hitler the haman: Soviet Yiddish songs of world war ii"

Machine Guns, Mothers' Graves and Hitler the Haman: Soviet Yiddish Songs of World War II
5pm, Room 104, Illini Union

A lecture by Anna Shternshis, Al and Malka Green Associate Professor of Yiddish Studies, University of Toronto. This lecture is made possible by the generous Oscar and Rose Einhorn Fund. This event is co-sponsored by the Program in Jewish Culture & Society.

For more information please visit: http://www.jewishculture.illinois.edu/events/lectures/

16 fEBRUARY - wORKSHOP

Anna Shternshis Workshop "On a Journey from Soviet Citizen to Jewish Refugee: Jewish Perceptions of 1941 in the Soviet Union"
4pm, Room 109, English Building

This event is co-sponsored by the Program in Jewish Culture & Society.

18 fEBRUARY - New directions lecture

Igor Fedyukin, "Prozhektery: Educational Innovation as an "Administrative Enterprise" in Russia from Peter I to Putin"
4pm, 101 ISB (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)

It is traditionally beleived that throughout history it was "the state" that stood behind all and any educational innovation in Russia, indeed, it was the state that drove it. This was, allegedly, especially the case under Peter I. Whereas in Western Europe "educational theories and schools of all sorts were usually the results of individual experimentation in pedagogical techniques," in Russia "it was the emperor, and the emperor alone, who initiated serious educational activities" (Black, Citizens for the Fatherland). Fedukin's forthcoming monograph questions this assumption by exploring the role of administrative entrepreneurs, or "projectors," in building new organizational forms in Russian schooling under Peter I and his immediate successors. The new forms of schooling were neither the fruit of forceful efforts by the omnipresent reforming monarch himself, nor they were somehow automatically brought into existence by the needs of modernization and the pressures of war and technological change. Instead, the introduction of new institutions and organizational forms was driven by the efforts of individuals and groups to implement their personal initiatives: projects driven by career, material, or ideational considerations, or, usually, by a mixture of these. It is the competition between such projectors and their agendas that defined the institutional landscapes of education in the early modern era. This argument, arguably, applies to other periods as well. Rather than assuming that it was the abstract "state" that drove modernization of education in the Imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet periods, we should look at the wasy in which enterprising individuals and groups using the "state" as a platform for implementing their own projects.

Igor Fedyukin is an Associate Professor of History at the National Research University - Higher School of Economics in Moscow and, in 2015/2016, a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Fedyukin recieved his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and worked as a reporter and editor at some of the leading Russian newspapers, including Vedomosti and Kommersant. He was a director for policy studies at the New Economic School in Moscow in 2007-2013. Fedyukin has held appointments as a Diderot Fellow at the Foundation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme in Paris and a visiting fellow at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna. His research focuses on history and politics of education, and his forthcoming monograph explores the role of administrative entrereneurs, or "projectors," in building new organizational forms in Russian schooling under Peter I and his immediate successors.

23 february - noontime scholars lecture

Sarah Hummel, "Protesting over Dissatisfaction or Policy Change: Evidence from Kyrgyzstan
12pm, 101 ISB (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)

Why do people join protests? One answer is that people join protests to express general dissatisfaction with the current government; another that they are seeking concrete changes on a particular issue. In this paper, Hummel explores which mechanisms best explains why individuals join protests in Kyrgyzstan. Using survey data, Hummel presents whether ordinary Kyrgyz citizens are likely to join protests because of particular policy complaints or because of broader dissatisfaction with the government.

This distinction has important implications for the effectiveness of different government responses in decreasing the occurrence of protest. If protesters are concerned primarily with narrowly focused goals, then governments must respond directly to the issue at hand. If, however, protests signal a more general distaste for the regime, then governments may effectively reduce protests by providing concessions in other, unrelated, issue areas. This gives them flexibility in determining what kind of conciliatory policies they should adopt. These implications are discussed with reference to the Kyrgyz case.

24 february - WORKSHOP

Alexandra Balod, "How a social sciences background can boost your career in finance"
Time and location: TBA

Balod will speak about the benefits that a humanitarian education can provide in business, and knowledge of which subjects/disciplines (not maths!) can make a difference when choosing a successful candidate for a job in finance. Balod will be speaking on behalf of herself and not Standard & Poor.

Alexandra is an Associate in Corporate ratings group at Standar & Poor's, one of the world's top three credit rating agencies. She is currently based in London and is the primary analyst on several construction, building materials and packaging producing companies in Italy, France, the UK, and other EMEA countries. Prior to this Alexandra worked for six years in the Sovereign and International Public finance group at S&P, covering sovereign and regional governments in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.

Alexandra holds a Master's degree with honors in Social and Economic (Human) Geography from the Moscow State University.

25 february - NEW DIRECTIONS LECTURE

Alexandra Balod, "Country risk in Russia"
Time and location: TBA

Balod will speak about political risks and concentration of power, the framework under which businesses and local and regional governments operate in Russia, what are the risks and trends for investing in Russia, and what is the economic outlook for the next couple of years in light of rapidly decreasing commodity prices. Balod will be speaking on behalf of herself and not Standard & Poor.

Alexandra is an Associate in Corporate ratings group at Standar & Poor's, one of the world's top three credit rating agencies. She is currently based in London and is the primary analyst on several construction, building materials and packaging producing companies in Italy, France, the UK, and other EMEA countries. Prior to this Alexandra worked for six years in the Sovereign and International Public finance group at S&P, covering sovereign and regional governments in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.

Alexandra holds a Master's degree with honors in Social and Economic (Human) Geography from the Moscow State University.

March

3 MARCH - NEW DIRECTIONS LECTURE

Faith Hillis, "Europe's Russian Colonies: East-West Migration and the Struggle for Freedom in Nineteenth-Century Europe"
4pm, TBD

In the second half of the nineteenth century, hundreds of thousands of tsarist subjects left the empire of their birth for the large urban centers and university towns of central and western Europe. The travelers came from every corner of the Russian empire and from many walks of life: there were students and political radicals, labor migrants and artists among them. Yet in spite of their differences, the migrants gravitated toward one another in exile, creating close-knit and intellectually vibrant communities that they referred to as Russian colonies. This talk will reconstruct the internal lives of these unique communities, and it will examine how Europe's "Russian colonies" shaped the world beyond their borders.

Faith Hillis is assistant professor of Russian history at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Children of Rus: Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of the Russian Nation (Cornell University Press, 2013) as well as numerous articles and essays. She is currently researching a book on Russian emigre communities in nineteenth-century Europe and their influence on continental society and politics. Her research has been funded by ACLS, IREX, NCEEER, and Fulbright-Hays, among others, and she has held research fellowships at Harvard and Columbia.

8 MARCH - WORKSHOP

Sasha Senderovich, "Seekers of Happiness: Mobility, Culture, and the Creation of the Soviet Jew"
4pm, Room 109, English Building

Co-sponsored by: Program in Jewish Culture & Society

17 MARCH - new directions lecture

Gordon Smith, "Plus ca change: Legacies of Soviet Legal Culture in Russia Today"
4pm, 101 ISB, (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)

What Soviet legal institutions and practices persist in the present-day Russian legal system? Professor Smith will address this question with a focus on the most powerful and distinctive institution in Russia's legal system, the Procuracy. The Procuracy came under pressures to reform under Gorbachev and Yeltsin, but managed to preserve and even strengthen its place in Russia's legal system. In addition, Professor Smith with analyze the persistence of several informal norms and practices: political interference in the criminal process, an accusatorial bias, the use of torture to obtain confessions, and the use of "administrative measures" to achieve political goals.

Gordon B. Smith is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina, where his positions included Director of the Walker Institute of International and Area Stuides; Founding Director of the Rule of Law Collaborative; Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School; and Associate Dean and Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He has been a fellow at Harvard University's Davis Center, the Kennan institute for Advanced Russian Studies, and Russian studies centers in England and Japan. Gordon has been involved with legal reform projects in Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. He has published ten books and more than 50 articles and book chapters, including Reforming the Russian Legal System (Cambridge, 1996) and 'Russia's Constitutional Project and Prospects for the Future' in Russia and its Constitution: Promise and Political Reality (edited by Gordon B. Smith and Robert Sharlet, Brill, 2008).

29 march - noontime scholars lecture

Ioannis Tsekouras, "Idyllic Pastures and Heroic Mountains: Imagining the Pontic Ancestral Homeland through Parakathi Singing
12:00 pm, 101 International Studies Building (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)

The Pontic Greeks or Pontians, descendants of the 1922 refugees from the Black Sea region of Turkey (in Greek Pontos), have cultivated a strong sense of community and identity. The development of a narrative of Pontic memory, a shared text about the pre-1922 past, is the most central aspect of the Pontic identity politics. The negotiation of a Pontic collective memory takes place through a variety of processes and media, with music being the most important. Folkloric dance performances and public dance events constitute the main venues through which Pontic narratives of the past, and memories of those narratives are presented to the broader public. However, Pontic music embraces a multitude of practices, not all of which are performed onstage. Parakathi is a practice of dialogical participatory singing that takes place in the private sphere of homes, coffee houses, and taverns among close friends and family, away from the stage. In this lecture Tsekouras will show how parakathi mediates representations of the Pontic ancestral homeland through the exchange of sung narratives rooted in remembrances of Pontos. More specifically, Tsekouras will present how the official Pontic narrative of memory and more personal accounts of Pontos are combined and negotiated through the musical performances, repertoires, and socialization practices of parakathi. Tsekouras will further demonstrate how this negotiation allows the imagining of a place, Pontos, that no longer exists. Finally, Tsekouras will examine these negotiations vis-a-vis Greek folkloric tropes, Pontic ethno-regionalism, and Greek nationalism.

Ioannis Tsekouras is a PhD candidate in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, school of music. He is currently completing his dissertation entitled "Nostalgia, Affect, and Ethno-regionalism in Pontic Parakathi Singing." The dissertation is a musical ethnography of the dialogical singing practices of the Pontic Greeks or Pontians, the descendants of the 1922 Greek-Orthodox refugees fromt the Kara Deniz region of Turkey. Ioannis Tsekouras is interested in ethnomusicology of performance, nationalism, ethnicity, cultural intimacy, regionalism, musical affect, collective memory, nostalgia, and ecomusicology. He has been awarded the 2012 Tulia Magrini Prize and he is planning to defend his dissertation by April 2016.

april

4 april - new directions lecture

Morton Pedersen, "Urban Hunters: Hustling and Gathering in Postsocialist Ulaanbaatar"
4:00 pm, 101 ISB (910 S. Fifth Street, Champaign)

The aim of this paper is to analyze postsocialist transition as a distinct social and existential predicament imbued with unique temporal dynamics. More precisely, by chronicling the hopes and the hardships of Ulaanbaatar's so called "lost generation" of men and women who turned thirty around the turn of the millenium, the paper explores what happens when postsocialist transition becomes permanent and acquires a logic of its own, across different arenas of economic and religious life.

How did people from the lost generation navigate the fluid urban landscapes of post-socialist transition? To takle this question, the paper takes issue iwht Bourdieu's theory of practice (1977) and recent anthropological work on dispossessed people struggling to cope in contexts of extreme economic poverty and endemic political instability. Certain people from the lost generation came across as surprisingly hopeful. Their repeated experiences of failure were not translated into what seemed to be the most obvious conclusion, namely that they were victims of the forces of global capitalism in its most predatory guise, and that there was nothing they could do about this state of affairs (short of bringing about radical political change, which never crossed their minds).

The central argument in this paper is that this "apparently irrational optimism" was meaningful response to the reality of permanent transition because it allowed people to gauge the unexpected, not by trying to neutralize it, but through a systematic unwillingness to plan that calls to mind hunter-gatherers and other marginal peoples who are allegedly also "living in the moment".

Pedersen is a Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen, where he has worked since completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2002 and his M. Phil at Aarhus University in 1997. He is the pricipal investigator of two research projects funded by the Danish Research Council: Imperial Potentialities; Chinese Infrastructure Projects and Local Socio-economic Networks in Mozambique and Mongolia (2009-2012) and Optimal Distortion: Ethnographic Explorations of Paradoxical Connections (2012-2014), for which he received a DFF Sapere Aude Research Leader Grant. He is author of Not Quite Shamans. Spirit Words and Political Lives in Northern Mongolia (2011), and co-editor of Inner Asian Perspectivism (2007), Technologies of the Imagination (2009), Comparative Relativism (2011); and Times of Security: Ethnographies of Fear, Protest, and the Future (2013), as well as around fifty book and journal articles in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Anthropological Theory, Critique of Anthropology, Ethnos, Social Analysis, and other journals and presses. He is also co-editing a new book series, Ethnography, Theory, Experiment, published by Berghahn Books.

12 april - noontime scholars lecture

Katerina Capkova, "The Construction of Jewish Identities in Stalinist Poland and Czechoslovakia"
12:00 pm, 101 ISB (910 S. Fifth Street, Champaign)

History of Jews under Communism is often depicted as a story of religious and national assimilation and also atomization of Jewish society. In her talk she will question this common assumption and will try to find answers to the following questions: How was it possible to 'be Jewish' in Stalinist Poland and Czechoslovakia? Why was there a different institutional framework for Jews in the two countries? To what extent did the Communist dictatorship bring change or totally new forms to Jewish institutions and activities and to what extent may we find continuity with Jewish life from the period before the takeovers and, obviously, before the Shoah?

Katerina Capkova is a research fellow at the Institute for Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences. She also teaches courses at Charles University and at NYU in Prague. Recently she is a Visiting Scholar at the Department of History, University of Chicago.

She is author of Czechs, Germans, Jews? National Identity and the Jews of Bohemia (Berghahn Books 2012, pb 2014) which received the award of Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2012. Her book Unsichere Zuflucht, written together with Michal Frankl, was focused on Czechoslovak refugee politics in the interwar period and the situation of German and Austrian refugees in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s (published in Czech and German).

Capkova is currently working on a comparative study about Jews in postwar Poland and Czechoslovakia.

21 april - millercomm lecture series

Karen Dawisha "Putin's Russia: The Past and Future of Kleptocracy"
4pm, Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum, 600 South Gregory, Urbana

The key question in the world today is who is the real Vladimir Putin and what are his intentions? Karen Dawisha will discuss how Putin got to power, the cabal he brought with him, the billions they have looted, and his plan to restore the Greater Russia.

 

Speakers Fall 2015

Section 1

Content

September

3 September - paprika, foie gra and red mud: hungary ten years after EU accession

Paprika, Foie Gras and Red Mud: Hungary Ten Years after EU Accession
4pm, General Lounge (Room 210), Illini Union

Prof. Gille goes behind the popularity of the current governing party FIDESZ's slogan "Nem leszunk gyarmat!" ("We are not going to be a colony!") by approaching Hungary's immersion in a global context through three stories that captivated lay people's political imagination. The first is the 2004 ban on the sale and use of paprika due to contamination by carcinogenic mycotoxin; the second is the 2010 boycott of Hungarian foie gras by an Austrian animal rights organization; and the third is the 2014 red mud spill, Hungary's worst industrial accident. These scandals, as Hungarians learned and talked about them, revealed certain previously hidden aspects of the relationship between their country and the European Union. Prof. Gille will analyze the three cases in the tradition of global ethnography, and she will use them to illustrate a new trend in the relationship between politics and materiality in the European Union.

Zsuzsa Gille is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History: The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary (Indiana University Press 2007--honorable mention for the AAASS Davis Prize), co-editor of Post-Communist Nostalgia with Maria Todorova (Berghahn Press 2010), and co-author of Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections and Imaginations in a Postmodern World (University of California Press, 2000). She was the special guest editor of Slavic Review's thematic cluster on Nature, Culture, Power (2009). Her book Paprika, Foie Gras, and Red Mud: The Politics of Materiality in the European Union (2016 Indiana University Press) investigates the relationship between power and materiality in a transnational context.

Followed by the REEEC Fall Reception.

3 September - reeec fall reception

REEEC Fall Reception
5pm, General Lounge (Room 210), Illini Union

Please join REEEC as we begin the 2015-2016 academic year! Refreshments will be served

4 September - Music and citizenship

Music and Citizenship
5pm, Smith Memorial Hall Room 25, 805 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana IL, 61801

Citizenship debates - traditionally focused on questions about property, liberty of the person, representation - shifted radically in the 1990s. Globalization pushed questions about 'flexible citizenship,' about problems of inclusion and exclusion in a world of migrancy, war, and failed states. Feminist and queer movements made questions about sexual rights central to citizenship discourse, and with them the politics of feeling, emotion, and care. Responses to Habermas explored the idea of counter-publics, spaces of citizenly participation involving alternative structures of emotional disclosure and recognition. Proccupied with matters of identity in the 1990s, ethnomusicology has, arguably, been slow to respond. This lecture looks at the place of music and musicians in constructions of citizenly virtue with four foci: emotion, environment, the body, the public sphere. It springs from questions that I explored in a recent book on Turkish music (The Republic of Love, University of Chicago Press, 2010), but traces the configurations of a more general and more global inquiry from the middle of the twentieth century on.

24 September - Familiar Strangers: The georgian diaspora and the Evolution of soviet empire

Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire
4pm, 101 ISB

Following the history of Georgians beyond the Georgian republic from 1917 to the present, this presentation explores the rise and fall of the Soviet multiethnic empire from the perspective of its most prominent internal diaspora. Joseph Stalin (Jughashvili) was just one of a group of Georgian revolutionaries who came to power in the early years of Soviet rule and directed the developement of the new state. After the socialist state was established, Soviet citizens sought new opportunities for leisure and consumption and found them at the Georgian restaurant, where they adopted the distinctive rituals of the Georgian table. During Khrushchev's "Thaw," Georgian cultural entrepreneurs embodied the era's spirit of spontaneity as popular ehtnic entertainers specializing in song, dance, and theater. As official life grew stagnant under Brezhnev, Georgians thrived in the burgeoning informal economy. Finally, with the advent of Gorbachev's reforms, it was a Georgian film, Repentance, that explored the furthest limits of allowable expression, calling into question the very legitimacy of Soviet power. The prominence of the Georgian diaspora suggests that the Soviet Union was not simply a Russian empire, nor merely a multiethnic state composed of separate nations; instead, it was an empire of diasporas, where politics, culture, and economics were constituted by the mixing of a diverse array of mobile nationalities.

Erik R. Scott is Assistant Professor of Russian and Soviet history at the University of Kansas. Drawing on years of fieldwork and knowledge of several regional languages, his research and teaching explore migration and diaspora within and beyond the imperial borders of Russia and Eurasia. His book, Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Multiethnic Soviet Empire (forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2016), reimagines the Soviet empire by revealing how external borders concealed an array of specialized internal diaspora populations. He has recently begun a new project on Soviet defectors and the production of Cold War borders, focusing in particular on the winding journeys of defectors through border zones, transit hubs, extraterritorial spaces, and contested areas beyond the limits of state jurisdiction. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Russian and Soviet history, the Cold War, comparative empires, and migration in global perspective. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011 and was the Post-Doctoral Fellow in Caucasian and Central Asian Affairs at Georgetown Univesity's Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies from 2011 to 2012.

 

October

6 October - Sirin Pancaroglu harp

Sirin Pancaroglu
12:15 pm, 1114 West Nevada Street, Urbana Room 1201, Music Building

Praised by the Washington Post as a "major talent of international caliber," harpist Sirin Pancaroglu has been credited for achieving a multifaceted musical career in which she has also been involved with the revival of the medieval Near-Eastern lap harp called, the "ceng." Disappeared in the 17th century, the ceng has a beautiful, almost archeological sound, which it owes to the leather stretched over its body. In 2013 she collaborated with Bora Uymaz, the leading singer and composer of Turkish music today, on a unique album titled Cengnagme, the song of the ceng. Ms. Pancaroglu will lecture on the ceng and together with singer Bora Uymaz and Mehmet Yalgin, they will perform hymns, semais and songs from the Turko-Ottoman repertoire.

6 October - The revival of the ceng

Sirin Pancaroglu with the Simdi Ensemble Performance
4:30 pm, Memorial Room, Smith Memorial Hall

Co-sponsored by: College of Fine and Applied Arts and Music

16 October- nEW TRENDS IN THE EU INDUSTRIAL POLICY

Implications for Bulgaria: Pascal Zhelev, Fulbright Visiting Scholar and Chief Asst. Professor, University of National and World Economy (UNWE), International Economic Relations and Business Department, Bulgaria
12:00 pm, Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building (707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana)

In the European Union, industrial policy is pursued at two levels - supranational and national. Complying with the principle of subsidiarity, the most substantial part of industrial policy, in the narrow sense, is pursued at the national level. However, the EU exerts a significant influence not just on the available toolkit, but also on the attitude towards industrial policies of its member states. For a number of reasons, the EU stance towards industrial policy in the 1990s was passive and subsequently, the candidate countries were obliged to adopt the horizontal approach to it as a condition of the accession process. Since the beginning of this century, the EU, facing a number of challenges (slow growth and jobs creation; falling behind the USA in technological advancement; increased competition from emerging markets, ets.), has relaunched its interest in industrial policy. It has been very high on the political agenda since the Global Recession and became an important part of a wider economic reforms strategy called "Europe 2020." The main goal of the EU's renewed industrial policy is to reverse the declining role of manufacturing in Europe from 16% of GDP to as much as 20% by 2020. By placing industry in a central position in its growth strategy, the EU also gives a strong signal to its member states to step up their national industrial policies. The objective of the presentation is to shed light on the new developments in the industrial policy of the EU and to discuss the policy challenges in front of its poorest member state Bulgaria, whose indsutrial capacity has been greatly diminished by the years of transitional recession, and undermined by the horizontal industrial policy it had to adopt.

Co-Sponsored by: European Union Center

20 October - Noontime scholars lecture

The Digestive Tract of the Universe: Andrei Platonov's "Antropo-tekhnika" Marina Filipovic (Ph.D. Candidate in Slavic Lanugages and Literatures, Illinois)
12:00 pm, 101 International Studies Building (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)

In the 1920s, Soviet Russia embarked on a project of creating a super-science with the ultimate goal of achieving immortality. Biotechnology of human rejuvenation and life prolongation was the leading trend both in science and in fiction, while the human bilogical cell became the Archimedean point in research and the metaphor of liberation from death. Biotechnological research was a fertile ground for Soviet authors like Andrei Platonov who responded to this state-sponsored venture to reshape human life by engaging in "antropo-tekhnika" -- a literary attempt to overcome the problem of death. In this presentation, Marina Filipovic (Ph. D. Candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Illinois), will discuss Platonov's ideas on human-cell transformation through carefully designed technology, the project called "the ethereal tract" or "the digestive tract of the universe"--one of the most potent metaphors in Platonov's prose of the twenties and early thirties. Through the organic imagery of the digestive tract that is simultaneously envisioned as a powerful machine system comprised of animate (muscles, bowels, enzymes, hormones, blood vessels, etc) and inanimate properties (human waste), Platonov produces a peculiar, hybrid understanding of the human organism that runs according to both inexplicable life forces and precise, mechanical functioning, and represents a perfect medium for technological manipulations.

26 October - new directions lecture

The Talking Dead: Articulating the 'Zombified' Subject Under Putin, Eliot Borenstein (Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University)
4:00 pm, 126 Graduate School of Library & Information Science (501 E. Daniel St., Champaign)

In the current Russian media environment, commentators of all political stripes are on the lookout for propaganda and its effects. The war in Ukraine, for example, has prompted accusations that the Russian, Ukrainian, and Western media are brainwashing their audiences. The Russian term most frequently invoked is "zombification": the transformation of otherwise potentially rational TV viewers into unthinking husks due to the pernicious effects of the "zomboiashchik" (the "zombie box," which is the Russian equivalent to "boob tube"). The casual but pervasive discourse of zombification, while completely inconsistent with the frameworks of modern media studies, has itself exerted a powerful hold on the Russian consciousness. Ironically, brainwashing and its Russian variant, zombification, are a concept with deep Cold War roots: Western anti-communists after World War II essentially took the Leninist rhetoric of reforging and reeducation at face value, creating fantasies of communist mind control. From there, brainwashing makes the jump to the anti-cult movement, which then exports it to the former USSR with the help of anti-sectarian activists associated with the Russian Orthodox Church. When combined with conspiracy theories as the Dulles Plan and the Harvard Project (and a large dose of blind faith in the power of mysterious KGB science), brainwashing/zombification plays a crucial role in the discursive constructio of a Russian state whose inhabitatnts have been subject to prolonged mind control experiments (whether by the Americans, Jews, or the Communist Party). Ultimately, one of the few ideas that seems to unite a large number of otherwise fractious Russian pundits and Internet commentators is a pessimistic anthropology of the Russian public, posting Russian subjectivity largely as absence: the Russian media consumer is painted as a passive victim with no defense against the media's vast and varied rhetorical arsenal. Speech ceases to be the product of an integral consciousness, turning instead into stuff of which false consciousness is made.

 

November

5 November - new directions lecture

The Political Prisoner as a Global Figure, Padraic Kenney (Professor of History and International Studies, Indiana University)
4:00 pm, 101 International Studies Building, 910 S. Fifth St., Champaign

What is a political prisoner, and how do we recognize such a figure? One medium through which we approach the political prisoner - movements that support or publicize them. Using the cases of Poland, Ireland, and South Africa over the course of the 20th century, Prof. Kenney will examine how the political prisoner has variously been the object of general humanitarian concern, a martyr used to rally political movements, and a neutralized symbol of the cause of human rights. Key movements to be examined will be Red Help, the International Committee for Political Prisoners, and Amnesty International.

4-8 November - concert

The Jupiter String Quartet Presents The Complete String Quartets of Bela Bartok
November 4, 7:30 pm, Memorial Room, Smith Memorial Hall
November 7, 2:00 pm, Rosann Gelvin Noel Gallery, Krannert Art Museum
November 8, 2:00 pm, Spurlock Museum--with Donna Buchanan

The JSQ will present the Barok Cycle around campus in conjunction with lectures and discussions led by Illinois scholars from the School of Music. Lectures begin at 7:30 and 2 pm with performance and discussion to follow.

Co-sponsor: School of Music

10 November - Noontime scholars lecture

Bulgarian-Russian Trade Relations in the Post-Socialist Period, Paskal Zhelev (Fulbright Fellow, Chief Assistant Professor, University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria)
12:00 pm, 101 International Studies Building (910 S. Fifth St., Champaign)

Bulgaria was once considered to be the closest and the most loyal ally of the Soviet Union within the former Eastern bloc. However after the collapse of the COMECON new priorities replaced the old ties. The country has pursued a policy of "returning to Europe" with a main goal accession to the EU. Following the European Association Agreement Bulgaria's trade with the EU has started to grow very fast to the detriment of the economic relations with Russia, which have been subject to many tariff and non-tariff barriers. While market shares of Bulgarian products on the RUssian market slumped, at the same time Bulgaria has remained extremely energy-dependent on Russia. This has led to the accumulation of vast year on year negative trade balance. The efforts during the last decade to develop more solid and pragmatic economic relations between the two traditional partners have shown little effect. More recently the bilateral ties cooled over Bulgaria's support for the EU sanctions and abandonment of major Russian energy projects. The paper uses merchandise trade data with the aim to analyze the development of Bulgarian-Russian trade relations after the start of the transition. It has been argued that the potential of the mutual trade relations has been largely unutilized and some opportunities for its reenergizing in the conditions of Bulgaria's EU membership are suggested.

 

december

7 December - noontime scholars lecture

Framing Homosexuality in Moral Terms: Patterns of Potential Tolerance in Central Asia, Cynthia Buckley (Professor of Sociology, Illinois)
12:00 pm, Lucy Ellis Lounge (1080 Foreign Languages Building)

Co-sponsored by: Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

9 december - reeec winter reception

4:00 pm, Illini Rooms A & B, Illini Union (1401 W. Green St., Urbana)

Come celebrate the end of the fall semester with REEEC! Refreshments and entertainment will be provided.

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