June Pachuta Farris, Bibliographer for Slavic and East European Studies, 1947-2018

June Pachuta Farris (Photo by John Zich)

June Pachuta Farris, who passed away on July 27, 2018 after a brief illness, was both a scholar in her own right and a devoted supporter of scholarship through her work. Her work greatly benefited UChicago’s Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies (CEERES) as well as scholarship in general relating to the CEERES area. June earned her B.A. (Magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa) in Russian and French from Case Western Reserve University in 1969, an M.A. in Russian Language and Literature at The Ohio State University, with a thesis on Dostoevsky and Camus, in 1971, and an M.A. in Library Science at the University of Denver in 1973. She also studied Czech at Charles University in Prague (1980, 1981) and Russian at Pyatigorsk State Pedagogical Institute (1970). She was the Slavic Bibliographer and then the Slavic Reference Librarian at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 1973-1986, and she was the Bibliographer for Slavic and East European Studies at Regenstein Library from 1986 until her passing. She published, edited, or co-edited more than twenty bibliographies and bibliographic series on various topics all relating to the CEERES area. She was an active participant in numerous scholarly organizations, presenting papers at the annual meetings of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (formerly the Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies), the American Library Association, the North American Conference Czechoslovak Academy of Arts and Sciences, the World Congress of Central and East European Studies, as well as many workshops and activities designed to enhance the research capabilities of students and colleagues. Starting from 1999, she also curated 38 exhibitions at Regenstein Library. Over the years, she was the recipient or principal investigator for over $400,000 in grants for the improvement of resources and access for various library collections.

In 2012, the Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS), an affiliate of the Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), awarded June its Outstanding Achievement Award. It was the first time that a librarian was honored with the award. The AWSS citation is worth quoting in full:

Serving for more than twenty-five years as the Bibliographer for Slavic and East European Studies at the Joseph Regenstein Library of the University of Chicago, June has developed a superb collection of Slavic, East European and Eurasian resources, many of them found nowhere else in the world. As one of her colleagues at the University of Chicago has noted, in addition to developing a “world-class collection at a world-class research library,” June also “understands the importance of the kinds of ephemera not found in most library collections.” Scholars and students at the University of Chicago are far from the only beneficiaries of her expertise, however. The entire profession has been enriched by June’s unassuming yet dedicated commitment to helping scholars wherever they work — whether formally, through her many published bibliographies on subjects as diverse as Dostoevsky and Czech and Slovak émigrés, or informally through her willingness to respond to countless queries from individuals. June’s services to the field of women’s and gender studies make her an especially deserving recipient of this award. Members of AWSS have grown to depend on her quarterly and annual Current Bibliography on Women and Gender in Russia and Eastern Europe, which has appeared in the AWSS Newsletter since 1999. Collaborating with Irina Liveazanu, Christine Worobec, and Mary Zirin, June also produced an invaluable two-volume publication, Women and Gender in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia: A Comprehensive Bibliography (2007). Last but far from least, June is known by her fellow Slavic librarians as a generous mentor. As one of them has written, “over the years she has taught me most of what I know about the field.” For her selfless, consistent, and dedicated service to scholars, students, and fellow bibliographers, AWSS is proud to honor June Pachuta Farris.

To this I can add that June played a crucial role when CEERES successfully applied for Title VI funding as a National Resource Center for 2006-2010 and when the grant was successfully renewed for 2010-2014 and 2014-2018. (CEERES is still awaiting notification concerning its application for 2018-2022, but if the grant is received, June will have played an important role in that renewal as well).  Strength of the library collection is one of the ten major qualifications for Title VI funding.  That the collection is as strong as it is can be attributed to June’s excellent work. Moreover, when it was time to apply for funding or renewal, June did not just supply the necessary data, she wrote the entire library section of the application (which, when I was director of CEERES, I then only had to pare down to fit the overall word limit). June was always ready to (successfully!) help faculty and students find resources, as well as taking the time and trouble not only to build Regenstein’s collections by acquiring and accepting a vast array of relevant materials, but also by making sure that duplicates found good homes in other research libraries, and exchanging them for materials needed by Regenstein.

With June’s passing, Slavic, East European, and Eurasian studies has lost an outstanding contributor. She will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by all who knew her.

—Victor A. Friedman
Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, University of Chicago
Research Professor, La Trobe University
former (2005-2015) Director of CEERES

Colleagues are invited to send tributes and stories about June and her impact to junefarrismemories@lib.uchicago.edu.  These will be collected, shared with June’s family, and deposited in the University Archives.

The University of Chicago Library has a detailed survey of June’s bibliographic work on their site

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Interview with Lenuta Giukin on The Romanian New Wave

By Angelina Ilieva and Esther Peters

On Friday, March 30, “Cultural Discourse(s), Romania, and Eastern European Paradigm” will examine East European cultural and political discourse, as well as the most important trends in the contributions of Romanian intellectuals, artists, and academics in the contemporary global space of ideas. As part of this event, we will be screening the most recent film by Cristian Mungiu, Graduation. The film is about a father driven to extremes in order to protect his daughter’s future.

Lenuta Giukin is a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at SUNY Oswego University in New York. She is editor and contributor to the collection Small Cinemas in Global Markets: Genres, Identities, Narratives. Professor Giukin agreed to answer a few questions to help provide context for the Romanian New Wave and Mungiu’s place in that movement.
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CEERES of Voices Interview with Bradford Morrow

In January 2017 the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies and the Seminary Co-op Bookstore decided to formalize our partnership and we created A CEERES of Voices, an author-centered series of readings and conversations on books from or about Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Eurasia, and the Caucasus.  On October 17, 2017 the CEERES and Seminary Co-op Bookstore and opened this year’s CEERES of Voices with a discussion of The Prague Sonata with novelist Bradford Morrow and Esther Peters. Continue reading

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Revolution Every Day

by Robert Bird, University of Chicago; Christina Kiaer, Northwestern University; and William Nickell, University of Chicago

This essay was originally published in the October 2017 edition of the NewsNet, ASEEES’ newsletter, which carries news of the profession and the association and is published five times a year. 

The centenary of the Russian revolution is being marked on the campus of the University of Chicago by two exhibitions. At the Smart Museum of Art Revolution Every Day displays revolutionary posters along with historical and contemporary time-based works to immerse visitors into the distinct textures and tempos of life that arose in the wake of revolution, and that have lingered stubbornly since the demise of the Soviet Union, informing the prospects of revolutionary change in our day. Next door, at the Regenstein library, the Special Collections Research Center is presenting Red Press: Radical Print Culture from St. Petersburg to Chicago, which puts visitors onto the revolutionary street, surrounded by the printed media that produced and disseminated revolutionary (and counterrevolutionary) ideology. The exhibitions anchor a range of courses, conferences and lectures, held across Chicago and Evanston, that will explore the revolution and its ramifications, including a special reception at the Smart Museum and the North American premiere of Dziga Vertov’s film The Three Heroines (1938) at the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center on the evening of November 10, during the 2017 ASEEES Convention. Continue reading

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Interview with Andrei Soldatov

Andrei Soldatov is a Russian investigative journalist, co-founder and editor of Agentura.ru, a watchdog of the Russian secret services’ activities. He has covered security services and terrorism issues since 1999. With Irina Borogan he is co-author of The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB and The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries. He will be in Chicago this upcoming November to participate in the ASEEES Annual Conference and the Chicago Humanities Festival. In these various presentations he will be discussing what he describes as “a strange phenomenon about the Russian Internet: there are very few countries in the world where the local Internet companies dominate, and Russia, with its recent totalitarian past, is one of them. We have Yandex, the Russian Google, Mail.Ru, the local Gmail, and Kaspersky, to name but a few. Yet when the Kremlin started its offensive against internet freedoms, we’ve seen very little resistance from these companies. Moreover, some of the companies were happy to lend a hand to the Kremlin when it needed their help. The Soviet legacy is clearly part of the reason.” Continue reading

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Central European University Under Attack:  In Victor Orbán’s Hungary, illiberal politics cannot tolerate liberal minds.

This post originally appear in The Nation. You can see the original post here

 by John Connelly

On April 4, Hungary’s Parliament passed amendments to an existing higher-education law that were intended to force the closing of Central European University in Budapest, an institution created in 1991 to restore and revitalize an intellectual life that had been ravaged by decades of fascist and communist rule. Since then, CEU has expanded and evolved, becoming one of the most international and diverse universities in the world, with some 1,440 students from 108 countries enrolled in graduate programs under 12 humanities and social-science faculties. The amended law is a grave threat to CEU because it makes two demands that the university cannot fulfill: It must ground its existence in a bilateral treaty between Hungary and the United States; and it must open a campus in New York State, where it is also accredited. Otherwise, CEU must cease taking new students in the fall of 2018. The law was signed by the Hungarian president on April 10.

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Support for Central European University. Directors of Regional Centers and CEERES Faculty speak out


April 24, 2017


Dear European Parliament, European Commission and Government of Hungary:

We write to you as the Directors of Centers for East European, Russian and Eurasian Studies across the United States, in Germany and in the United Kingdom.  As scholars and experts on the region, we forcefully protest the recent amendments to the Hungarian National Higher Education Act that pose an existential threat to the Central European University in Budapest. These actions threaten academic freedom across the region and in Europe as a whole. Continue reading

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Mobilizing Gender: Secularism, Nation and Remaking Europe

by Jennifer Cole and Susan Gal

From left to right: Jennifer Cole, Éric Fassin, Agnieszka Graff, Susan Gal, and Sarah Green.

The conference on March 31st examined the entanglement of gender, nation, sexualities and secularism in Europe, East and West: Why and how have these issues become sharply visible in the last several years, in eastern Europe (as was clear in 1989), and now in the west as well?

Four trends underscore this phenomenon. First, there has been a mobilization of “women’s rights” talk (closely connected to “human rights”) often used to discipline – or promote – religious beliefs and practices. Second, we see the use of homophobic discourse to stigmatize liberal states, politicians and policies. Third, state efforts to manage immigration hinge on attitudes about gender and sexuality. Claims about national religious (Christian) and/or secular heritages of Europe highlight the supposed contrast to attitudes about gender and sex of migrants. Fourth, abortion debates (e.g. in Poland as well as Ireland) reveal tensions between national Christian heritages and a Europe-wide commitment to secularism and liberalism. Continue reading

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Reflecting on “Mobilizing Gender: Secularism, Nation and Remaking Europe”

by Zoe Berman

Over the last several years, the entanglement of gender, nation, and secularism has become sharply visible in Europe. From the 2010 “Cologne Attacks,” in Germany, when roving bands of young men (many who were said to be either foreign nationals or refugees) sexually assaulted and robbed young women during New Year’s festivities, to the rise in anti-LGBTQ, misogynist, and xenophobic legislation across the continent, to the precipitous decision last week in the Hungarian Parliament to outlaw the continued operation of the Central European University, a crucial hub for gender studies instruction and research, a diversity of issues across the continent have sparked conversations around gender that continue to reverberate in the international political arena.  On Friday, March 31, 2017, scholars from across disciplines gathered to discuss such emergent gendered global linkages at a one day mini-conference, entitled Mobilizing Gender: Secularism, Nation and Remaking Europe, hosted by the University of Chicago. The conference featured scholars from Europe and the United States who drew from both the humanities and the social sciences to probe the day’s themes of gender, sexuality, nationalism, and secularism.  Continue reading

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Rights Research in Central Asia: Challenges, Insights

by Mihra Rittmann

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization that investigates human rights abuse in over 90 countries worldwide. Human Rights Watch carries out in-depth research to get the facts. We expose information of abuse in our various written and social media products and make policy recommendations about how governments can – and should – change behavior. Ultimately, our purpose is to bring about positive change.

Human Rights Watch researchers face a range of difficulties covering human rights abuses in the countries where we work. In Central Asia, a region Human Rights Watch has covered for over 20 years, and where I’ve worked for about nine, there are three key challenges that stand out.

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