CREECA’s mission is to support research, teaching, and outreach on Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, and Central Asia. We approach this three-part mission by promoting faculty research across a range of disciplines; by supporting graduate and undergraduate teaching and training related to the region; and by serving as a community resource through outreach activities targeted to K-12 teachers and students, other institutions of higher education, and the general public.
As a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center, CREECA hosts a variety of events and lectures which are free and open to the public. You can find recordings of past events here.
Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg - Francine Hirsch (11.19.20)
“Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: Revisiting the International Military Tribunal on its 75th Anniversary” with Francine Hirsch, University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Please note that this CREECA Lecture was given as part of the Area Studies Lecture Series presented by the 2018-2021 U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center and Foreign Language and Area Studies grant recipients for Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.
Toxic Crimes Project - Freek van der Vet (11.12.2020)
"Toxic Crimes Project: Legal Activism Against Environmental Destruction in the Conflict in Eastern Ukraine" with Dr. Freek van der Vet, Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights.
LECTURE DESCRIPTION: War often destroys the environment – either directly when armies poison foliage as a military strategy or indirectly, when toxins leak from bombed industrial sites. In the “Toxic Crimes Project,” we examine how rights advocates—lawyers, experts, and activists—protect the environment from wartime environmental destruction, how they promote the idea that the environment has legally enforceable rights, and how they expand international legal mechanisms (at the ICC and ILC) to protect the environment during war. In this lecture, Van der Vet presents case studies from the project. Based on several pilot-interviews with lawyers and NGO activists, the lecture examines legal activism against environmental destruction during the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. The Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine is one of Europe’s most heavily industrialized areas. Before the conflict broke out, the region already coped with heavy pollution from its industry and coal sector. Some of these heavy industry sites have been unstable or fraught with safety issues. Many of these industrial sites in the Donbas region are located in the immediate vicinity of the front line of the conflict. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has damaged many of these sites, for instance the Zasyadko coal mine and the Lysychyansk oil refinery, polluting the air and contaminating water supplies, and, as a result, damaging human health and ecosystems for years to come.
SPEAKER DESCRIPTION: Dr. Freek van der Vet is a University Researcher at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki Finland. Van der Vet’s research interests include international litigation at human rights courts, legal mobilization under authoritarianism, and environmental destruction during war. He is the Principal Investigator (PI) of “Toxic Crimes Project: Legal Activism against Wartime Environmental Destruction” (funded by Kone Foundation and Academy of Finland); a research group investigating how lawyers and experts seek accountability for wartime environmental destruction. In his previous projects, he worked on legal mobilization against disinformation and trolling in Russia, the legal defense of treason suspects and NGOs in Russia, and litigation at the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of victims from the Chechen conflicts. He is a member and co-founder of ActInCourts (Activists in International Courts; funded by SSHRC, Canada), a network of scholars and human rights practitioners working on regional human rights courts. His academic work has appeared in Law & Society Review, Law & Social Inquiry, Europe-Asia Studies, The International Journal of Human Rights, Social & Legal Studies, Human Rights Review, Review of Central and East European Law, among others. He completed visiting fellowships at the University of British Columbia (Canada) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).
CREECA Podcast - CESSI Alumni Panel (10.24.20)
This podcast is a recording of the CESSI Virtual Alumni Panel which took place on October 24. Featured Alumni were Kiiyha Gray, Katka Showers-Curtis, Stu McLaughlin, and Matt Brown. The first part of the panel is a brief introduction to CESSI while the second part is a Q&A with our panelists.
Perestroika's Dark Side - Jeff Sahadeo (10.22.2020)
"Perestroika's Dark Side: Nationalism, Racism and Crisis on Moscow Streets at the End of the Soviet Union" with Jeff Sahadeo, Professor at Carleton University.
LECTURE DESCRIPTION: Migration from the Soviet South (Caucasus and Central Asia) to the capital, Moscow, dramatically increased in the 1980s. Newcomers sought to take advantage of top-quality education, professional opportunities and to trade as economic conditions in their homelands grew more challenging. Street traders from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and elsewhere, whose fruit and flowers fetched much higher prices than they might at home, came to symbolize a changing Soviet Union for Moscow’s residents. Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts to bring openness (glasnost) and economic restructuring (perestroika) to the USSR brought initial enthusiasm to Soviet citizens, who hoped for increased social mobility and economic opportunity. As reforms faltered, however, as prices rose and shortages appeared in the planned economy, the goods and services provided by these Soviet southerners became at once more important and more resented by Moscow’s Slavic majority. Nationalist and racist ideas, percolating under the surface alongside increased south-north movement, burst into the open in the late 1980s and changed life plans of many of these southern migrants. Based on oral histories of the time, this presentation reveals connections between mobility, nationalism and racism in Moscow and across the USSR. By 1990, when hope for progress ebbed, the Soviet maxim of the Friendship of the Peoples evaporated and migrants no longer considered Moscow “their” capital.
SPEAKER DESCRIPTION: Jeff Sahadeo is a Professor at the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Department of Political Science. His presentation is drawn from his recent book, Voices from the Soviet Edge: Southern Migrants in Leningrad and Moscow (Cornell University Press, 2019). Professor Sahadeo is also the author of Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865-1923 and the co-editor of Everyday Life in Central Asia, Past and Present. His current research examines the intersection between nature and society through a study of rivers in tsarist and Soviet Georgia
A Small State on the Global Scene - Theodora Dragostinova (10.8.20)
"A Small State on the Global Scene: Bulgaria’s ‘Developing World’ in the 1970s" with Theodora Dragostinova, Associate Professor of History at Ohio State University.
LECTURE DESCRIPTION: In the 1970s, officials and intellectuals in communist Bulgaria launched an ambitious program of international cultural outreach. Paris, Vienna, London, Munich, and New York City all hosted spectacular exhibitions of Bulgarian ancient treasures and medieval icons, but Bulgarian cultural ambassadors also sponsored concerts, film showings, and book readings in regional centers and rural areas throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Focusing on Bulgarian cultural events in India, Mexico, and Nigeria, this talk highlights the role of culture in a small state’s foreign policy choices. By interrogating the unique notions of development that emerged out of these encounters, it explores the role of cultural diplomacy in the relationship between the Second and the Third Worlds during the later years of the Cold War.
SPEAKER DESCRIPTION: Theodora Dragostinova is an Associate Professor of History at Ohio State University. Her work focuses on nationalism, migration, global history, and Cold War culture. She is the author of Between Two Motherlands: Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks in Bulgaria, 1900-1949 (Cornell UP, 2011) and the co-editor of Beyond Mosque, Church, and State: Alternative Narratives of the Nation in the Balkans (CEU Press, 2016). Her newest book, The Cold War from the Margins: A Small Socialist State on the Global Cultural Scene, is forthcoming with Cornell University Press in 2021.
Putin's Constitutional Amendments, 2020 - Ekaterina Mishina (10.1.20)
"Putin's Constitutional Amendments - 2020" with Ekaterina Mishina, Independent Legal Scholar.
LECTURE DESCRIPTION: At his 2020 Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed substantial amendments to the Russian constitution. The proposed referendum would allow Putin to serve as the President until 2036, give the Russian Constitutional Court the power to nullify international tribunals' decisions, and make gay marriage unconstitutional. In July, the referendum was passed by a– contested– national popular vote. This talk will address the 2020 amendments to the Russian Constitution, the procedure of approval, and explain how these changes affect all branches of power and further strengthen the President's role.
SPEAKER DESCRIPTION: Ekaterina Mishina is an independent legal scholar. She received a B.A. and M.A. in Jurisprudence from the Faculty of Law of Moscow State University, graduating in with the highest honours in 1987. Dr. Mishina holds a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence from the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1992). Selected positions held: Principal Advisor to the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of the RF (1995 – 1997) Deputy Director, Legal Advisor ( “Legal Culture” project of the Russian Foundation of Legal Reforms (1997 -1999), head of the Legal Department of “MOSTELECOM” JSC (1999-2002), advisor to the Chairman of the Foundation for Development of Parliamentarism in Russia ( 2002-2005), Deputy Director of the Institute of Legal Studies, the National Research University –Higher School of Economics (2005 – 2011). Associate Professor, Department of Constitutional law, Faculty of Law of the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (2005 – 2014). Visiting Professor at the Law School (2012-2013) and the Department of Political Science (2014 – 2016) of the University of Michigan.
Image credits: Putin’s 2020 Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly [“File:2020 Putin Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly (12).jpg” by kremlin.ru is licensed under CC BY 4.0]