Most people remember the story of Jason and the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece. What most people do not realize is that the setting of the myth is substantiated by the discovery of the Sakdrisi Gold Mine. The Bronze Age mine was acknowledged to be 5,000 years old in the early 2000s, the oldest known gold mine in the world. Sakdrisi was declared a cultural heritage site archaeological and scientific excavations began in 2006 by Georgian and German academics. This status was revoked in 2013 by the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection in order to allow RMG Gold, a Russian-owned mining company, to exploit the site for the remaining gold. RMG contributes to approximately 10% of the Georgian economy.
Willard Sunderland, Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati, has had a long-time problem. Since graduate school, all of his scholarly energies have been directed toward finding something that no longer exists -- the Russian Empire. The Ellison Center and the History Department sponsored Professor Sunderland's visit to the Jackson School, where he gave a talk to promote his new book "The Baron's Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution." Sunderland's approach to analyzing the twilight of the Russian Empire, a land with tremendous cultural diversity, was to search through the space and time of a single life -- that of the infamous Baron Ungern.
The concept of a "pivot" is often examined from the perspective of Russia's interactions with China. Liz Wishnick, Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair University, explained how China views the American rebalancing of its foreign policy priorities. As Asian countries become increasingly influential on the world stage, the United States and Russia have taken more active roles as Pacific powers.
Mikhail Alekseev, Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University, analyzed the emerging modern Sino-Russian relationship through public views on Chinese migration in the Russian Far East since 2000. Based upon mass opinion surveys in Russia in 2000, 2005, 2013, and 2014, Alekseev found a significant decline in negative perceptions of Chinese migration among residents of the Russian Far East, particularly as a threat to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia. The opinion surveys addressed perceptions of geopolitical threat, xenophobic prejudices, central government authority, economic valuations, and intergroup contact.
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."