From the Director

Happy New Year!

As we welcome 2019, I'd like to share some of our accomplishments together. Last year was an exciting one as the Institute began fine tuning its strategic vision and laying the groundwork for its 75th Anniversary (2021-2022). Part of that effort is telling our story in a compelling and effective way. Together with Columbia’s Center for Oral History Research at INCITE, we completed the first stage of our ongoing oral history project, “Cold Wars and the Academy: An Oral History on Russian and Eurasian Studies—a series of interviews with some of the Institute’s key actors that have allowed us to reconstruct and examine the evolution of the Institute’s history over time. You can view the initial 26 interviews, along with videos of the project’s launch events in Paris and New York, on our new oral history website. You can also read about the project in the Fall 2018 issue of Harriman Magazine, which includes an in-depth overview of the endeavor and contributions by some of our interviewees; and in a PONARS Eurasia policy memo I co-authored with George Gavrilis, who authored the project's blueprint.

Included in this very active year for Harriman was the excellent work of the Institute’s East Central European Center (now formerly under the umbrella of Harriman), the expansion of our Local Eurasia initiative, and programming that featured over 175 events spanning conferences, book talks, lectures and seminars, roundtables and panels, film screenings, exhibits and arts events in music, theater and poetry.

Over the past year, our master's program (MARS-REERS) has expanded and strengthened. An astounding 11 new MARS-REERS students joined us in September. Our first 5-year BA/MA graduate, Anastasiya Moroz, finished the program in October, and we accepted two new outstanding BA/MA students who are generously funded by the U.S. Russia Foundation (USRF). With USRF funding, applications to the BA/MA program have increased dramatically. In addition, working with Harriman’s National Advisory Council under the leadership of Gail Buyske, we created a new mentorship program that pairs students with members of the Harriman community. We’re proud that all of our 2018 graduates were employed within six weeks of graduation! Please visit Harriman’s new MARS-REERS website to learn more about the impressive work our students and alumni are doing.

As usual, the Harriman calendar was chock-a-block with events that represented the full spectrum of the Institute’s research interests. But if we focus on the literature side for just a moment, the fall lineup was really quite remarkable, with readings by leading writers from Poland, Ukraine and former Yugoslavia: Olga Tokarczuk, Yuri Andrukhovych and Dubravka Ugrešić. Not to mention a book launch for Oxford University’s new History of Russian Literature, co-authored by Irina Reyfman (Columbia) and Mark Lipovetsky (currently at Colorado-Boulder, but soon to join the Columbia Slavic Department), along with colleagues from Harvard and Oxford; a conference devoted to Chinghiz Aitmatov; and a book launch for A Terrible Country, by our colleague in the Journalism School, Keith Gessen. 

This is in addition to the great programming in the social sciences we sponsor every year. I encourage you to sign up for our events list to keep abreast of everything that is happening. 

I look forward to seeing you at the Harriman Institute this year!

Alexander Cooley