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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Eurasianet Reports on Harriman Kyrgyz Diaspora Event

In November 2017, the Harriman Institute and the Kyrgyz-American Foundation hosted an academic roundtable discussion on the issues facing the Kyrgyz diaspora in the United States; the event also featured Kyrgyz music, dance and cuisine. Read and watch a video about the event on

 *Photograph: Nurmira Salimbaeva-Greenberg playing the komuz, a traditional Kyrgyz instrument, during the Kyrgyz American cultural event co-hosted by Columbia University's Harriman Institute and the Kyrgyz American Foundation on November 17, 2017. (Photo by Jonathan Levin/Kyrgyz American Foundation)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Mark Andryczyk Interviewed by Academic Studies Press

Mark Andryczyk, Staff Associate, Ukrainian Studies Program, was interviewed by Academic Studies Press about his edited volume, The White Chalk of Days: The Contemporary Ukrainian Literature Series Anthology.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Harriman Spends Thanksgiving in Moscow and Siberia, Tackling Tough Research Problems and Engaging in Track Two Diplomacy through the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum

We are proud to announce that two members of the Harriman Institute community are part of the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum’s 2017-18 U.S.-Russia delegation that travelled to Moscow and Tyumen in November 2017. Drawing from diverse linguistic, cultural, and professional backgrounds, delegates work to solve real-world problems while also fostering bi-national dialogue.

Tinatin Japaridze (MARS-REERS BA/MA '19), a Georgian-born, Russian-bred Master’s student, working on a policy initiative for US-Russia relations through the prism of cultural and citizen diplomacy, is a delegate in the Conflict and Cybersecurity Working Group. Based on meetings and consultations with both Russian and American experts and government officials in Moscow, Tyumen, New York, and Washington, D.C., her group’s proposed recommendations center on coordination in the area of cybersecurity as a tool to help dissipate current tensions while also fostering cultural understanding, effective communication, and stronger ties for greater future cooperation and improved relations, not only between the state actors but also among their respective citizens.

Alexis Lerner, Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute and a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, serves as the delegation’s Director of Research. Since 2016, Alexis has overseen the program’s eight unique research projects and over 60 scholars from around the world. In her own research, Alexis studies the topic of co-optation and dissent management in authoritarian and hybrid states, focusing on the political trajectories of federal-level candidates across the post-Soviet region.

The delegation is composed of eight working groups. During their trip, the delegates conducted high-level meetings and interviews with the Governor of Tyumen, leaders from the State Duma and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and with experts and executives across academia and the private sector. In Tyumen and its neighboring town Yalutorovsk, the delegation engaged in cultural diplomacy, touring local start-up, creative, and energy companies, before ending the week at a local youth center.

Delegates presented their research at the Higher School of Economics before a full conference hall that included attendees Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, HSE Dean Sergey Karaganov, and Skolkovo Vice President Alexei Sitnikov.

This coming April, the delegation will meet once again, this time at Stanford University, where they will present their scholarly findings alongside academic and policy leaders like Sec. William Perry, Sec. George Shultz, Ambassador Michael McFaul, Francis Fukuyama, and Condoleezza Rice. In celebration of the organization’s ten year anniversary, the delegation will then travel to Washington, D.C., where they will meet with the Russian Ambassador, as well as with American politicians and institutions working on US-Russia relations.

The Stanford US-Russia Forum, demonstrating the potential for successful US-Russia partnership through scholarship and dialogue, is a special initiative of the Preventive Defense Project at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute.

*Photo: Tinatin Japaridze (left) and Alexis Lerner (right) in front of a Lenin statue in Siberia


Friday, February 9, 2018

Max de Haldevang (MARS-REERS '16) Interviews Ksenia Sobchak

Harriman alum Max de Haldevang, geopolitics reporter for Quartz, interviewed Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak after her talk at the Harriman Institute on February 9, 2018.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Sarah Calderone (SIPA '18)

Sarah Calderone (SIPA ’18) has been interested in the treatment of migrants in Russia since 2012. That year, as a junior at Drew University, she received a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) from the U.S. State Department to study Russian in Vladimir—a small city about 120 miles outside of Moscow. Calderone spent two months there, and was struck by the negative attitude toward migrants that she encountered. “People I interacted with would say things like, ‘I don’t like seeing them on the street, what are they doing here?” she recalls. Calderone, who had an interest in human rights, wanted to understand the root cause of these attitudes and the official policies that may have shaped them. Two years after completing the CLS, she returned to Russia—this time to the Ural Federal University in Ekaterinburg—as a Fulbright scholar researching integration efforts for migrants coming from Central Asia.

Calderone began her research at an opportune time—in 2015 the Russian government passed a reform package on migration law, and she was able to study its effects firsthand. She paid particular attention to a new requirement to test migrants on their knowledge of the Russian language, history, and legal system within thirty days of arrival. “It was kind of contradictory,” says Calderone, “because it was meant to help migrants adapt but also to gauge the adaptability of migrants.” If a migrant failed the test, he or she was denied the right to stay.

Calderone interviewed Russian-language experts assigned to evaluate the exam. Some of her respondents were skeptical of the requirement. They saw it as an effort to curb migration, rather than as a way to integrate migrants. Not only was the 30-day period insufficient in order to learn the amount of Russian necessary to pass the test, but also the legal and historical questions were quite difficult, even for native Russian speakers. Other evaluators, however, saw it differently. “They said things like, ‘the least migrants could do to stay in our country is to learn to speak the language,’” says Calderone.


Calderone spent ten months in Ekaterinburg, building her body of research, meeting scholars with similar interests, and presenting her research at Russian-language conferences. After her return to the U.S., she continued working on and presenting her research, and published an article on Eurasianet. Currently, she is writing a paper about the language exams with Professor Caress Schenk at Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University.

In 2016 Calderone enrolled in Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, where she is pursuing a Harriman Institute certificate and working as a Harriman departmental research assistant. Migration issues continue to be the focal point of her studies, but she has widened the scope of her research—last summer Calderone received a Harriman Pepsico grant to do research in Kazakhstan, this time focusing on migration trends and policies there.

While at Columbia, Calderone has worked extensively with Harriman Director Alexander Cooley. Last year she assisted him in his research on corporate transparency and foreign investor visas in transnational financial networks, and is currently working on a paper on Russia’s use of migration as a foreign policy tool with Central Asian states. It was Cooley who suggested that Calderone organize a conference on migration at the Harriman Institute, funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Working with Professors Lara Nettelfield and Jack Snyder, Calderone conceptualized the goals of the conference and brought together a group of international scholars. The two-day conference, titled, “Regional Perspectives on Migration and Refugees,” took place in January 2018. It was a success, but the deteriorating relationship between Russia and the United States made it quite difficult to bring over Russian scholars. “The wait time for visas is up to three months,” says Calderone.

Calderone has learned a lot from her experience at Columbia. “It is such a stimulating environment,” she says. After she graduates in May, she would like to continue her work on the region and transnational issues, including migration. “I’m not ruling out staying in academia.”

—Masha Udensiva-Brenner

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