Please join us for a panel discussion on the relationship between Turkey and Serbia and its effect on human rights in the Balkans with Civil Rights Defenders members Goran Miletic, Sinan Gökçen, and Ivana Randjelovic moderated by Tanya Domi (Columbia/SIPA). Sabina Pačariz (Queen Mary University) will serve as discussant.
Goran Miletic is Director for Europe at Civil Rights Defenders, and is stationed at their Regional Office for Europe in Belgrade. He began working for Civil Rights Defenders in 2004 as a Programme Officer for the Western Balkans.
Sinan Gökçen is a Programme Officer for Turkey at Civil Rights Defenders. He has extensive experience working in the human rights field in Turkey, both as a journalist and as a human rights defender. Sinan became involved in human rights activism in late 1980s as a founding member of one of the most prominent human rights organisations in the country and was actively involved in the coordination of their activities. He worked for years as a professional journalist, particularly focused on minority rights, democratisation and peaceful conflict resolution.
Ivana Randjelovic is an experienced and passionate human rights activist, working as a Senior Programme Officer for Europe at Civil Rights Defenders. She is committed to achieving social change in complex environments, particularly by focusing on advancement of civil and political rights in the most repressive societies in Europe. She has been actively engaged in NGO work for more than fifteen years working on advancement of minority rights, freedom of expression and reconciliation in the Western Balkans region.
Sabina Pačariz is a PhD candidate at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University in London. Her doctoral thesis empirically investigates the nature of contemporary Turkish influence in Serbia, on political and economic level. She completed her MA studies at the Marmara University in Istanbul, Department of Political Science and International Relations, and her undergraduate studies at the Philological Faculty at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje. Before starting her PhD, Sabina worked for several years as interpreter on English and Turkish in Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. She is also the annual contributing author for the Yearbook of Muslims (Leiden:Brill), for the reports on Montenegro, and the author of Migrations From Former Yugoslavia to Turkey 1945-1974: The Case of Sandžak (Sarajevo: Centre for Advanced Studies). Sabina recently completed her fellowship at the Centre for South-East Europe in Graz, Austria.
Please join the Barnard and Columbia Slavic Departments and the Harriman Institute for a talk with Polina Barskova (Hampshire College), a Russian-language poet and American scholar of the Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944).
In this lecture, Polina Barskova will consider intersections in her creative and scholarly work. Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad (Ugly Duckling Press, 2016), an anthology that she edited recently, presents a group of writers and a literary phenomenon that has been unknown even to Russian readers for seventy years, obfuscated by historical amnesia. Gennady Gor, Pavel Zaltsman, Dmitry Maksimov, Sergey Rudakov, and Vladimir Sterligov, wrote these works in 1942, during the most severe winter of the Nazi Siege of Leningrad. In striking contrast to state-sanctioned, heroic "Blockade" poetry in which the stoic body of the exemplary citizen triumphs over death, the poems gathered here show the Siege individual (blokadnik) as a weak and desperate incarnation of Job. These poets wrote in situ about the famine disease, madness, cannibalism, and prostitution around them—subjects so tabooed in those most-Soviet times that they would never think of publishing. Moreover, the formal ambition and macabre avant-gardism of this uncanny body of work match its horrific content, giving birth to a "poor" language which alone could reflect the depth of suffering and psychological destruction experienced by victims of that historical disaster.
Focusing on this work, Barskova will talk about the Siege of Leningrad as a site of terrific (and terrifying) creative intensity and a constant impulse of inspiration for her own writing.
Professor Barskova is the first speaker in a new series at Barnard entitled "The Creative and Scholarly Women of Slavic Literature," which highlights connections between the creative and scholarly work of women in the field of Slavic literature. There is a venerable tradition in Russian history of academics or scholars who are also, or even primarily, authors of creative work. Although it is rarely done, a series that reunites the two activities of creative and scholarly output is, therefore, a natural approach. With the exclusive focus on women, the series will probe the idea of ‘women’s prose’ as a distinct sub-genre of Slavic literature, to examine and challenge the notion of a woman’s voice as unique.
Please contact Holly Myers (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
Please join the Njegoš Endowment for Serbian Language and Culture and the Harriman Institute for a book launch and discussion of Dubravka Ugrešić’s recent novel Fox, translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac and David Williams, with the author Dubravka Ugrešić and translator Ellen Elias-Bursac. The conversation will be moderated by Aleksandar Bošković (Columbia).
With characteristic wit and narrative force, Fox takes us from Russia to Japan, through Balkan minefields and American road trips, and from the 1920s to the present, as it explores the power of storytelling and literary invention, notions of betrayal, and the randomness of human lives and biographies. Using the duplicitous and shape-shifting fox of Eastern folklore as a motif, Ugrešić constructs a novel that reinvents itself over and over, blending nuggets of literary trivia (like how Nabokov named the Neonympha dorothea dorothea butterfly after the woman who drove him cross-country), with the timeless story of a woman trying to escape her hometown and find love to magical effect. Propelled by literary footnotes and “minor” characters, Fox is vintage Ugrešić, recovering the voices of those on the margins with a verve that’s impassioned, learned, and hilarious.
Over the past three decades, Dubravka Ugrešić has established herself as one of Europe’s most distinctive novelists and essayists. From her early postmodernist excursions, to her elegiac reckonings in fiction and the essay with the disintegration of her Yugoslav homeland and the fall of the Berlin Wall, through to her more recent writings on popular and literary culture, Ugrešić’s work is marked by a rare combination of irony, polemic, and compassion. Following degrees in Comparative and Russian Literature, Ugrešić worked for many years at the University of Zagreb’s Institute for Theory of Literature, successfully pursuing parallel careers as both a writer and as a scholar. In 1991, when war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, Ugrešić took a firm anti-war stance, critically dissecting retrograde Croatian and Serbian nationalism, the stupidity and criminality of war, and in the process became a target for nationalist journalists, politicians and fellow writers. Subjected to prolonged public ostracism and persistent media harassment, she left Croatia in 1993. In an exile that has in time become emigration, her books have been translated into over twenty languages. She has taught at a number of American and European universities, including Harvard, UCLA, Columbia and the Free University of Berlin. She is the winner of several major literary prizes (Austrian State Prize for European Literature 1998; finalist of Man Booker International Prize 2009; Jean Améry Essay Prize, awarded for her essayistic work as a whole, 2012; while Karaoke Culture was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism 2011). In 2016 Dubravka Ugrešić has been awarded Vilenica Prize and Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Ugrešić lives in Amsterdam.
Ellen Elias-Bursac translates fiction and non-fiction from Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. Her translation of David Albahari's novel Götz and Meyer was given the 2006 ALTA National Translation Award. Her book Translating Evidence and Interpreting Testimony at a War Crimes Tribunal: Working in a Tug-of-War was given the Mary Zirin Prize in 2015. She is the vice-president of ALTA.
Please join the East Central European Center and the Harriman Institute for a talk with Piotr Kosicki, Assistant Professor in the History Department at the University of Maryland, about his new book Catholics on the Barricades: Poland, France, and "Revolution," 1891-1956 (Yale University Press, 2018). RSVP required to Elidor Mehilli at email@example.com
Piotr Kosicki will speak about his new book, a collective intellectual biography that examines generations of deeply religious thinkers whose faith drove them into public life, including Karol Wojtyla, future Pope John Paul II, and Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the future prime minister who would dismantle Poland’s Communist regime.
Piotr H. Kosicki specializes in the transnational history of modern Europe—East and West—and its global implications. He focuses particularly on religion (especially Roman Catholicism), politics, historical memory, and the entangled history of ideas and activist networks. In addition to authoring Catholics on the Barricades, he has edited Christian Democracy across the Iron Curtain: Europe Redefined (2018); Re-mapping Polish-German Historical Memory: Physical, Political, and Literary Spaces since World War II (2011, with Justyna Beinek); and Vatican II Behind the Iron Curtain (2016), as well as a special issue of East European Politics and Societies (November 2015) devoted to memory of the Katyń Massacres.
For further information regarding this event and to RSVP, please contact Elidor Mehilli, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please join the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University for a presentation by Sergei Zhuk, Professor of Russian and Eastern European History at Ball State University, of his book Soviet Americana: The Cultural History of Russian and Ukrainian Americanists (I.B. Tauris, 2018).
In 1991, there were more than 1,000 "Americanists"—experts in U.S. history and politics—working in the Soviet Union. The Americanist community played a vital role in the Cold War, as well as in large part directing the cultural consumption of Soviet society and shaping perceptions of the U.S. To shed light onto this important, yet under-studied, academic community, Sergei Zhuk explores the personal histories of prominent Soviet Americanists, considering the myriad cultural influences—from John Wayne's bravado in the film Stagecoach to Miles Davis—that shaped their identities, careers, and academic interests.
Zhuk's compelling account draws on a wide range of understudied archival documents, periodicals, letters, and diaries as well as more than 100 exclusive interviews with prominent Americanists to take the reader from the post-war origins of American studies, via the extremes of the Cold War, thaw and perestroika, to Putin's Russia. Soviet Americana is a comprehensive insight into shifting attitudes towards the U.S. throughout the 20th Century and an essential resource for all Soviet and Cold War historians.
Sergei Zhuk is a professor of Russian and eastern European history at Ball State University and was a Visiting Professor at Columbia University in 2016. He received his first Ph.D. (U.S. history) from the Institute of World History in Moscow and his second (Russian history) from Johns Hopkins University. Zhuk is the author of the acclaimed Rock and Roll in the Rocket City (2010), Popular Culture, Identity and Soviet Youth in Dniepropetrovsk, 1959–1984 (2008), and Russia’s Lost Reformation (2004), as well as numerous books in Russian.
Please join the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University for a presentation by Ambassador Yuriy Scherbak.
Yuriy M. Scherbak (Shcherbak) is a Ukrainian writer, screenwriter, publicist, epidemiologist, politician, diplomat, and environmental activist. He is a Doctor of Medicine (1983) and Laureate of the Y. Yanovsky Literary Prize (1984) and the O. Dovzhenko State Prize (1984).
Yuriy Scherbak graduated from Kyiv Medical Institute in 1958. During 1958–1987 he worked in the Kyiv L. Gromashevsky Research Institute of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases as Junior and then Senior Researcher. His PhD (1965) and MD (1983) theses devoted to the epidemiology of especially dangerous infectious diseases. He took part in the fight against epidemics of cholera and other diseases in Ukraine and Uzbekistan, for which he was awarded the Order of Red Banner of Labour (1971).
Yuriy Scherbak is the author of about 100 scientific papers and more than 20 books. His career in literature began in the mid-1950s at the literary association of his medical school.
1989–1991 – Deputy of the USSR, Chairman of the sub-Committee on Nuclear Energy and Environment, member of oppositional Interregional Deputy Group headed by Academician Andrei Sakharov
1990–1992 – Chairman of the Green Party of Ukraine
1991–1992 – First environment Minister of independent Ukraine, Member of the National Security Council of Ukraine
1992–1994 – Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to Israel
1994–1998 – Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to the USA (since 1997 also to Mexico)
1998–2000 – Advisor to the President of Ukraine
2000–2003 – Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada (also Representative of Ukraine at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, Montreal).
Since 12/2009 – Co-founder and Member of the Council on Foreign and Security Policy
2004–2006 – Advisor to the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
Since 2006 – President of the V. Vernadsky Institute for Sustainable Development.
Please join the Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University for a screening of the film Frost (2017) as part of the Fall 2018 Olena Yershova Retrospective Film Series at Columbia. Producer Olena Yershova will participate in the discussion.
Frost, directed by Sharunas Bartas of Lithuania, is an unheroic road story of discovery when a selfless Lithuanian couple drives a truck loaded with humanitarian aid for Ukrainians fighting off Russian aggression in the Donbas. They quickly find themselves in the middle of a minefield that is today’s Ukraine, where there is no telling who is a friend and who a foe.
About the Olena Yershova Retrospective Film Series
Since its inception fourteen years ago, the Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University has primarily focused on the work of directors and actors. Now, for the first time, we would like to take a closer look at producers, the profession that is relatively new and in the process of defining itself in Ukraine’s contemporary film industry. After all, the old Soviet cinema from whose shadow the post-Soviet Ukrainian film is slowly emerging did not have film producers in the customary sense. Choosing from a dozen possible candidates this semester we showcase Olena Yershova. She comes from a celebrated filmmaking family; her father Kostiantyn Yershov wrote and directed eight films and is primarily celebrated for his 1967 screen adaptation of the Mykola Hohol (Nikolai Gogol) story Viy, arguably the only horror film allowed to be made in the Soviet Union.
Olena Yershova is a successful film producer in her own right with an impressive portfolio of more than ten feature films which garnered over a hundred awards worldwide. Her filmography includes My Joy (main competition at Cannes 2010), Frost (Directors’ Fortnight - Cannes 2017), Falling (Prix Du Public Jeanne Moreau at Premiers Plans, France, 2018), Gogita’s New Life (main competition at IDFA 2016), Motherland (Venice Critics’ Week 2015, Best Script and UNESCO Award nomination at the Asian Pacific Screen Awards 2015) and Blind Dates (Toronto IFF, Tokyo IFF, Palm Springs IFF, Berlinale - Forum, 2014). She has successfully worked not only with Ukrainian, but also, with Georgian and Turkish directors.
The forthcoming retrospective will showcase four feature films produced by Olena Yershova in cooperation with four different directors, three of them representing the new generation of Ukrainian filmmakers. Each film brings into focus an important aspect of the current Ukrainian reality.
Producer Olena Yershova will be present at the screenings of Frost and Volcano to discuss her work and the current state of the Ukrainian film industry. All films will be shown with English subtitles. The retrospective is scheduled to take place at Columbia’s Deutsches Haus, 420 West 116th Street, New York, N.Y.
Love Me (2013), directed by Maryna Er Horbach, will open the retrospective at Columbia. It is a romance between a Turkish man and a Ukrainian woman that unexpectedly grows out of what began as just another sordid case of sex tourism.
Frost, 2017, directed by Sharunas Bartas of Lithuania, is an unheroic road story of discovery when a selfless Lithuanian couple drives a truck loaded with humanitarian aid for Ukrainians fighting off Russian aggression in the Donbas. They quickly find themselves in the middle of a minefield that is today’s Ukraine, where there is no telling who is a friend and who a foe. Click here to view the trailer.
Vulcano (2018), directed by Roman Bondarchuk, is a tongue-in-cheek take on the Southern Ukrainian steppe and its denizens, fascinating, weird, unpredictable, and endearing at the same time. This is the land where operation Russia Spring found its ignominious end in 2014. The film contains some truly beautiful cinematography that is as memorable as it is breathtaking. Click here to view the trailer.
Falling (2017) is directed by Maryna Stepanska of Ukraine. The drama is a psychological exploration of two young people deeply traumatized by life and looking for redemption and a new beginning, who find love in the most unlikely of places.
Please join us for a dialogue between Vladimir Kara-Murza (Chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and Vice Chairman of Open Russia) and Keith Gessen (George T. Delacorte Assistant Professor of Magazine Journalism, Columbia University) on challenges and prospects in Russian civil society today. Ann Cooper (CBS Professor of Professional Practice in International Journalism, Columbia University) will provide the opening remarks and introduction.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, winner of the 2018 Courage Prize, is vice chairman of the Open Russia movement and chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom. He was a longtime colleague of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Kara-Murza is a former deputy leader of the People’s Freedom Party and was a candidate for the Russian State Duma. He has testified on Russian affairs before parliaments in Europe and North America and played a key role in the passage of the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that imposed targeted sanctions on Russian human rights violators. Twice, in 2015 and 2017, he was poisoned with an unknown substance and left in a coma; the attempts on his life were widely viewed as politically motivated. Kara-Murza writes regular commentary for the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, World Affairs, and other periodicals, and has previously worked as a journalist for Russian broadcast and print media, including Ekho Moskvy and Kommersant. He directed two documentary films, They Chose Freedom (2005) and Nemtsov (2016). He is the author of Reform or Revolution (Moscow 2011) and a contributor to Russia’s Choices: The Duma Elections and After (London 2003), Russian Liberalism: Ideas and People (Moscow 2007), Why Europe Needs a Magnitsky Law (London 2013), and Boris Nemtsov and Russian Politics: Power and Resistance (Stuttgart 2018). He has led international efforts to commemorate Nemtsov, including with the 2018 Washington D.C. law designating the block in front of the Russian Embassy as Boris Nemtsov Plaza. Kara-Murza is a recipient of the Magnitsky Human Rights Award, the Sakharov Prize for Journalism as an Act of Conscience, and the Geneva Summit Courage Award.
Keith Gessen is the author of A Terrible Country, a novel, and the editor and co-translator of Kirill Medvedev’s It’s No Good. He teaches journalism at Columbia University.
Please join the Harriman Institute and the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center for a talk with Dina Sorokina, director of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Museum and Lyudmila Telen, deputy executive director of the Yeltsin Center in conversation with the makers of the film ProRock (2015), producer Anna Selyanina and director Evgeny Grigoryev.
In recent years there have been significant developments in the cultural life of Russia. The general mission of the Yeltsin Center is to study and present issues surrounding the modern democratic society of Russia, its institutions, principles, laws, and customs, as well as to preserve and publicize the historical legacy of the first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin. Among other things, the Center supports projects in the fields of education, culture, youth, humanitarian cooperation, publishing and literature. It represents a new type of cultural institution that deals not only with recent history but also delivers a broad range of programs, raising questions about the country's often difficult past, while also examining a wide spectrum of contemporary issues and matters.
In conversation with film makers Anna Selyanina and Evgeny Grigoryev, through actual cases and examples, we will speak about the new generation of cultural influencers and will attempt to highlight some of the most important shifts that have been occurring in the cultural scene of Ekaterinburg and Russia in general through new initiatives that support awareness of contemporary history and life in present–day Russia.
Please join the Harriman Institute and the Njegoš Endowment for Serbian Language and Culture at Columbia University's East Central European Center for a talk with Dejan Djokić, Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Balkans at Goldsmiths, University of London.
In late October 1918 a provisional state of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs was proclaimed in Zagreb, with the aim of unifying soon with Serbia and Montenegro. Similar, pro-union manifestos were issued in Ljubljana and Sarajevo, while the Serbian army, together with its British, French, Italian, and Greek allies, had broken through the Salonika front in September and liberated much of Serbia by the end of October. Despite enormous challenges, sacrifices, and a catastrophic defeat, before the triumph of 1918, the Serbian leadership had generally pursued a pro-unification line through the war, as did exiled Croats and other South Slavs, of the London-based Yugoslav Committee. The proclamation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes on December 1, 1918 in Belgrade had the support of practically all relevant political, intellectual and religious groups. Yet, unsurprisingly perhaps, the Yugoslav unification today is often perceived as a naïve, catastrophic mistake if not a result of Serb/Croat manipulation or the Powers’ conspiracy. Was Yugoslavia not doomed to failure from the start, as its seemingly perpetual crises and the violent collapses in the 1940s and 1990s surely attest? Even if one is not susceptible to post-factum interpretations, it is nevertheless appropriate to ask why did the South Slavs form a union a century ago and why no alternative solutions were seriously explored. Djokić argues that a unified Yugoslavia represented the most logical solution to the Serbian and South Slav Question(s) and that complex events of late 1918 need to be understood in their historical context. He bases his analysis on, among other sources, numerous proclamations issued by key South Slav groups and individuals in 1917 and 1918. Djokić suggests that rather than merely an idealistic project, Yugoslavia actually made sense to all the key South Slav political actors, whose decision-making was driven by ideological as well as pragmatic considerations. It also made sense to most of Serbia’s allies, even if they were at times ambivalent vis-à-vis the creation of Yugoslavia or, in the case of Italy, opposed to it.
Dejan Djokić is Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Balkans at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Elusive Compromise: A History of Interwar Yugoslavia (Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2007) and Pašić & Trumbić: The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Haus/Chicago University Press, 2010), and is currently working on two book-length studies: a history of Serbia (under contract with Cambridge University Press) and a collective biography of the last generation of Yugoslav soldiers.