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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CEERES of Voices Interview with Max Bergholz

On February 17, 2017 the Seminary Co-op Bookstore and the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies held the second event in 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. The series continued with a discussion of Violence As A Generative Force: Identity, Nationalism, and Memory in a Balkan Community with Max Bergholz and Victor Friedman. Continue reading

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Archives in Bosnia in Minutes and Hours

by Max Bergholz 

This piece was originally published with the same title in Sage House News: The Cornell University Press Blog. The original post can be found here.

The town of Kulen Vakuf, site of mass killings in 1941

“You have fifteen minutes to look around. After that I’m going for coffee with my colleagues, and besides, God save me if someone found out I let a foreigner down here!” These words—spoken to me on a September afternoon in 2006 by an archivist in Bosnia-Herzegovina—marked the moment my book began.

I was in one of the archive’s basement storage depots. Many of the light bulbs were burned out, while a handful of others flickered. The impatient archivist handed me a flashlight, and pointed me down a dark set of shelves. “I think what you’re looking for might be down there,” she yelled just before exiting the depot. I stood in silence for a moment, and then switched on the flashlight. After ten minutes of straining to read the handwriting on filthy, uncatalogued stacks of blue folders, my eyes froze on these words: “Sites of Mass Executions.” Continue reading

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Sex, AIDS, and the Dystopic Impulse: The Affective Politics of Racialized Displacements

by Michaela Appeltova

On February 2, Kateřina Kolářová, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies in the
Department of Gender Studies at Charles University in Prague, presented a theoretically dense, analytically layered, and thought-provoking excerpt from her manuscript on the intersections of disability, race, sexuality, and post-socialism in the Czech Republic. The event was sponsored by the Disability Studies Reading Group, Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, and Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.    Continue reading

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This is what the gradual erosion of rule of law looks like in Poland

by Monika Nalepa

First published in The Monkey Cage at The Washington Post on January 23, 2017 under the title This is what the gradual erosion of rule of law looks like in Poland.

From Dec. 16 to Jan. 11, 10 members of parliament occupied the plenary hall of the Polish parliament (called the Sejm). The unprecedented blockade began with a protest against the right-wing ruling party’s ban on allowing the news media in the building. It continued as a way to object to what many have seen as an uncertain fate for the rule of law in Poland — including plans for a far-reaching reconstruction of the court system that could endanger the nation’s hold on democracy.

Until recently, Poland and Hungary were seen as examples of successful transitions to democracy. Each emerged from behind the Iron Curtain after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1989. Each is now ruled by a right-wing party that is steadily shaving away those new democratic institutions and norms — and which is explaining its crackdown in part by pointing to past failures to fully clean house after communism. Continue reading

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CEERES of Voices Interview with Domnica Radulescu

On January 12, 2017 the Seminary Co-op Bookstore and the Center for East European and R20170112_183336ussian/Eurasian Studies launched 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.  The series began with a discussion of Country of Red Azaleas with Domnica Radulescu and Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru. Continue reading

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Five Things You Need to Know about the Protests in Poland

Five Things You Need to Know about the Protests in Poland

by Anna Grzymala-Busse and Monika Nalepa

First published in The Monkey Cage at The Washington Post on December 19, 2016 under the title “Why are there protests in Poland? Here are the five things you need to know.” 

Poland is gripped by its most severe constitutional crisis since the Communist regime declared martial law in 1981, with protesters — both inside parliament and outside in the freezing streets — accusing the ruling party of threatening democracy.

Law and Justice (PiS), the party in power, has roots in the dissident trade union Solidarity, which helped bring down the Communist regime. But it has this in common with the authoritarian Communist PZPR, which ruled Poland between 1948 and 1989: It occupies an absolute majority of seats in the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament. Unlike the PZPR, it was elected in free and fair elections.

Here’s what you need to know about the protests and what they say about PiS’s rule in Poland.  Continue reading

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Francofonia

Francofonia

by Anthony Stott

On October 20, 2016, the University of Chicago community joined Dragan Kujundžić, Professor of Germanic and Slavic Studies, and Film and Media Studies at the University of Florida, to celebrate the renowned Russian film director Alexander Sokurov and his latest film Francofonia. The event was sponsored by the Franke Institute for the Humanities, CEERES, The Chicago Center for Jewish Studies, The Transnational Approaches to Modern Europe, and the Departments of Cinema and Media Studies and Comparative Literature. Continue reading

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Doubly Neglected: Women and Religion in the Balkans—The Case of Orthodox Women Monastics

 Milica Bakić-Hayden: Doubly Neglected: Women and Religion in the Balkans—The Case of Orthodox Women Monastics

by Nada Petković

doublyneglectedOn October 17, 2016, the Franke Institute for the Humanities hosted a lecture on Orthodox
Women Monastics in the Balkans delivered by Milica Bakić-Hayden, a scholar in religious studies from the University of Pittsburgh. The event was sponsored by the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, The Franke Institute for the Humanities, and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. The paper was based on ethnographic research conducted among women monastics in Serbia over the course of the last decade.  Continue reading

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