Message from the Director, June 18, 2020:
As we move from a late winter and spring of tumultuous events towards an uncertain summer, we--like all of you-- are endeavoring to take stock of our changing landscape and to reset our sails in anticipation of the challenging months ahead. After a surprisingly smooth transition this Spring quarter, the Center for European and Russian Studies is fully active remotely with our program of sponsored public events and faculty and student programs. We look forward to an exciting and engaged year of activities in 2020-2021.
In Eastern and Western Europe and in Russia the response to the Covid-19 virus, quarantine, unemployment and economic emergency has been shaped by highly diverse national, political, social, and cultural logics. It is far too early to understand the complex hierarchy of variables modulating the pandemic regionally, although we do know that more robust social-economic support nets and universal public health assistance have been critical to survival and recovery in previous crises. As in the US, the pandemic has further polarized existing political factions and in some cases empowered autocratic initiatives. It has thrown into relief globally the greater vulnerability of marginalized populations. The Black Lives Matter movement and the explosion of protests against police violence in the US have ignited demonstrations across Europe around colonial heritage, social inequality, global racial justice, and the right to public space. At the same time, the urgent matters that concerned us before March 2020 (from climate catastrophe to the lethal situation of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, Brexit and the future of the European Union, growing militant nationalism and authoritarian populism, challenges to gender and human rights, public support for the arts and sciences) have not disappeared.
The staff and affiliated faculty at the Center for European and Russian Studies closely monitor and study these and other contemporary events. We aim to bring to our broader audience an array of resources, from our lively Facebook and Twitter pages, to original web content from our correspondents in Europe and Russia, to our public webinars, to broaden the US lens on life in Europe and Russia. Global remote formats have opened up exciting possibilities for innovative artistic collaborations and public participation in cultural events across Europe. As a sociocultural anthropologist with a specialization in Greece and the Mediterranean area as well as the US inner-city, I deeply believe that this cross-Atlantic, global, comparative scope is critical to 21st century citizenship, good scholarship and well-informed social action.
This Spring Quarter we were thrilled to host two widely attended public webinars, Cartographic Humanism: The Making of Early Modern Europe by Katharina Piechocki (Harvard University, Comparative Literature) and Talking Trash: Cultural Uses of Waste, a book talk by Maite Zubiaurre (UCLA, Spanish & Portuguese, Germanic Languages) with discussants Charlene Villaseñor Black (UCLA, Art History and Chicana Studies) and Allison Carruth (UCLA, English and the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability). (Both available on Facebook and our website Podcasts page).
We are in the planning stages for next year's events, bringing European and Russian national and regional perspectives to the urgent issues we collectively face in challenging times. We invite you to join us in the Fall as we engage in these important conversations.
Laurie Kain Hart
Professor of Anthropology and Global Studies
Director, Center for European and Russian Studies
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013