The Soyuz Symposium, an intimate conference designed to connect contemporary scholars working the fields of socialism and post-socialism, was hosted by the Ellison Center on the final weekend of February 2015. This event brought together more than two-dozen scholars from numerous disciplines to share their work on the history, social politics, and lived experiences of socialism and post-socialism throughout the European, Central Asian, and East Asian regions. The theme of this year’s Symposium was “Shifting Territories: Historical Legacies and Social Change.” Conference participants tackled these concepts by presenting their research in six panels over a period of two days.
TALK | Bruce Grant examines history, legacy of 100-year-old Azerbaijani satirical magazine for Treadgold Lecture
With the memory of the Charlie Hebdo shooting still raw, the BBC ran a story about a daring satirical magazine that ran from 1906 until 1931 in Azerbaijan. The next day, Soyuz Symposium attendees, UW students, faculty and community members, gathered in Kane Hall to hear New York University’s Anthropology Professor Bruce Grant talk about the 100-year-old publication, Molla Nasreddin, and its founder, Jalil Mammadguluzadeh.
Most people are trying to leave campus as quickly as possible on a Friday evening, but in Thomson Hall, students, faculty and community members were gathering to finish the week off strong. Spearheaded by doctoral candidate Greg Shtraks and sponsored by the Ellison Center, the East Asia Center, and the Center for Global Studies, a panel on "Russia's Pivot to China in the Context of a Burning Ukraine" brought together experts in economics and political science to examine the Sino-Russian relationship in light of the current events in Ukraine.
Jan Karski, the subject of the latest exhibit on the ground floor of the Allen Library. Karski was the Polish resistance fighter and intelligence courier who brought the first eye-witness reports out of the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto and the transit depot outside of the Bełżec death camp. Karski’s biography reads like a spy-novel and his heroic legacy speaks powerfully to the virtues of courage, tolerance, and compassion. Karski is remembered and valorized among the Polish and Jewish communities disseminated around the world, as a true hero of WWII and the 20th Century as a whole. However, many remain woefully ignorant of his efforts.
Thomas de Waal, journalist, author, and expert on the unresolved conflicts in the South Caucasus, posed this question to a room full of students, professors, and community members in Kane Hall at the annual Herbert J. Ellison Memorial Lecture. De Waal's talk, "Great Catastrophe: The Politics of the Armenian Genocide," addressed a variety of issues, from human rights, to the complexity of human agency, and the complications of international politics. De Waal insisted that as a journalist -- "an historian of the present"-- it was his goal to make some sense of the suffering of the Armenians while understanding the current political issues which make acknowledgement of that suffering a challenge for many people.
The room was already filled, but more people were still squeezing into a standing-room-only crowd for "NATO, Russia & 21st Century Atlanticism," but Deputy Chief of Mission Tanel Sepp said that he is getting used to such receptions. "Before Crimea, I was knocking on different doors on the Hill, maybe they would have 10 or 15 minutes to talk. Now people from the Hill come to me."
Acknowledgement, Responsibility & Forgiveness: The Socio-Psychological Processes of Intergroup Reconciliation | A Conversation with Bosnian Psychologist & Fullbright Scholar Sabina Cehaic-Clancy
The lecture hall was filled to capacity for the event "Power, Geopolitics, Ideas," featuring noted historian and Princeton professor Stephen Kotkin. Co-sponsored by the Ellison Center and the UW History Department, students, faculty, and community members from a variety of backgrounds gathered to hear Kotkin discuss his research on the most enigmatic, powerful, and dangerous man to ever walk the planet. "It's 862 pages, but my good friend assures me that it reads more like 620," he deadpanned to a chuckling crowd. Kotkin admitted that it is very difficult to discuss a book of such depth and breadth in just a couple of hours, but he was eager to provide insight into the scope of his research and to offer a more nuanced view of Stalin as a man and leader.
CAREER | Chess, leadership & calculated risk: Washington Attorney General, UW alumnus talks to Gorton Center Global Leaders
Chess has trained people to think strategically for centuries, and in former Soviet nations, chess is still considered a sport. The game originated on the Asian subcontinent and eventually made its way to Persia. The term “checkmate” comes from the words shah mat, “the king is dead,” and the Russian word for chess is essentially the same, shakhmati. Power and risk, intrinsic aspects of politics, are fundamental concepts of chess as well. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, UW alumnus and former UW student-body president, became fascinated with the game as a child. It was through this driving interest that he became a pupil of Bulgarian chess master Nikolay Minev. What he learned from Minev would help shape his future endeavors.
For several years now, Alexander Bedritsky, scientist and Putin’s appointed Presidential Delegate to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has been voicing concern over Russia’s melting permafrost and the threat it poses to the global climate balance. He could not have asked for a better rallying event than the sudden, spectacular birth of the Yamal crater. This past July, a 100-foot wide section of Siberian taiga burst open on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula. This anomaly was the result of underground pockets of methane fed by years of Siberia’s slowly melting permafrost.