Midwest Slavic Conference


General Information on the Conference

Each year the Midwest Slavic Association and CSEEES partner together to host the Midwest Slavic Conference. The conference has been held on the OSU campus since 2003 and is normally held in the spring. Participation is open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars from across the United States and abroad. Approximately 30 panels are held each year with over 250 attendees from institutions throughout the country and internationally. Conference events include a keynote address, reception, and panels covering film, political science, culture, history, linguistics, and many other disciplines and that focus on all countries and regions of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Midwestern states map with superimposed photo of the Red Square.

Upcoming Conferences

2022 Midwest Slavic Conference

April 1-3, 2022 - Columbus, OH

Online registration is now closed. On-site registration will be available at the conference, but please note that only cash and check payments will be accepted.

View conference Program

The Midwest Slavic Association and The Ohio State University (OSU) Center for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (CSEEES) are pleased to announce the 2022 Midwest Slavic Conference to be held at the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio on April 1-3, 2022. Papers on all topics related to the Slavic, East European, and Eurasian world will be presented, including those that explore issues surrounding climate change: the usage and depletion of natural resources, environmental changes, as well as issues surrounding the changing climates in politics, society, and culture (eco-criticism, eco-poetics, etc.). How has climate change affected the way we live today and our vision of humanity’s future, and how might these issues have inadvertently impacted other climates? Join us as we explore these questions and more!

The conference will open with a reception at the OSU Faculty Club (181 S Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210) from 5:30PM-7:00PM followed by the keynote address from 7:00PM-8:30PM by Dr. Ian Helfant (Colgate U.). A plenary panel with Dr. Matthew Birkhold (Ohio State U.), Dr. Andy Bruno (Northern Illinois U.), and Dr. Maria Fedorova (Macalester College) will follow on Saturday morning from 8:30AM-10:15AM at the Blackwell Inn and Conference Center (2110 Tuttle Park Pl., Columbus, OH 43210). Panels by conference participants will then commence on Saturday and Sunday at the Blackwell Inn and Conference Center.

Registration is required to attend all conference events and activities. 


  • Final Papers to Chair: March 18 
  • Presenter Registration Deadline: March 18

Registration Fees

  • Student Presenters: $35
  • Faculty/Independent Scholars: $50
  • General Attendees: $25

Special Events

Opening Reception and Keynote Address

Friday, April 1st, OSU Faculty Club, Main Dining Room on the 2nd Floor (181 S Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210)

  • Opening Reception, 5:30PM-7:00PM
  • Keynote Address, 7:00PM-8:30PM
"Looking Across Species in the Anthropocene: Carnivores and Compassion" 
Dr. Ian Helfant (Colgate U.)

As we bear witness to the sixth extinction, the perspectives and insights of earlier eras provide sources of comparison and opportunities for reflection.  Imperial Russia’s attempts to eradicate its wolf populations diverge from modern attitudes toward large carnivores in the post-Soviet space and beyond, but also overlap in significant ways.  Focusing especially upon the human gaze and the ways in which we choose to look (and look away), I will utilize examples ranging from the Amur tiger, to the elusive snow leopard, to the polar bears who have encroached upon the remote Arctic Russian town of Ryrkaypiy, to explore the tensions and elisions in our ways of perceiving animals more generally and accepting our responsibility for their fates.

Plenary Panel

Saturday, April 2nd, 8:30-10:15AMBlackwell Inn and Conference Center, Pfahl Hall Room 202 on the 2nd Floor (2110 Tuttle Park Pl., Columbus, OH 43210)

Building on the keynote address, this year's plenary panel will include presentations from:

"Who Owns Icebergs? Seeking Multidisciplinary Solutions in a Legal Vacuum" 
Dr. Matthew Birkhold (Ohio State U.)

Nearly 70% of the earth’s freshwater is held in ice caps and glaciers. Much of this will be calved as icebergs and sent into the oceans, where it will slowly melt into the sea. Even as private companies have begun attempting to transport icebergs from the polar regions to the desert, the most fundamental legal question concerning this resource remains unresolved: who owns icebergs? As the planet warms and technology advances, it is not difficult to imagine future conflicts fought over icebergs, like the struggle for Arctic oil already occurring atop the globe. The fight over icebergs, however, will occur in a legal vacuum. No international law specifically considers the acquisition, transport, or use of icebergs. What would a ship have to do to claim an iceberg in international waters? Do we want private corporations to have control over this resource? Could a territory like Greenland attempt to control icebergs and sell them to the highest bidder? Like any legal problem, the issue is not just juridical – it is also philosophical and cultural. Most property questions depend, in part, on metaphor. What metaphor should we use? We have an opportunity to think about this issue from as many perspectives as possible. My research seeks to learn from indigenous studies, anthropology, philosophy, history, cultural studies, political science, and law. Because international law – when not based on a treaty – derives from custom, the practices that first develop around iceberg utilization will influence the future. The first States (and their corporations) that harvest icebergs thus have the potential to establish the laws and concepts governing icebergs. Before a custom can spring out of corporate and nationalist interests, however, this project proposes conducting thoughtful, multidisciplinary research to determine how we should conceptualize this resource. International law and the future of freshwater depends on it. 

"What Can a Cosmic Collision Teach Us about Climate Change? The 1908 Tunguska Explosion and Environmental Perils of the Future"
Dr. Andy Bruno (Northern Illinois U.) 

In late 2021 a star-studded film, Don’t Look Up, used an impending collision of a comet as a parable for the stultifying inaction to address global climate change. Viewers would be forgiven, however, for failing to realize that the Earth had dealt with an explosion of an asteroid fragment powerful enough to take out Manhattan a little over a century ago. In 1908 the Tunguska blast decimated a huge swath of taiga forest in Siberia. While only a relatively small number of people died or got hurt, the event became a major mystery of twentieth-century science because of the failure of researchers to locate a meteorite or a crater at the site. Uncertainty about the blast helped produce wide-ranging theories about its cause: everything from antimatter to a crash of a nuclear spaceship operated by aliens has been proposed. This talk will reflect on the significance of the Tunguska explosion for understanding the environmental perils of the present and future. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the experience of an actual cosmic collision reinforces the need to embrace earthly embeddedness rather than fantasize about the possibility of escaping the planet through technology.

"Fighting "Future Famines" after the First World War"
Dr. Maria Fedorova (Macalester College)

The First World War left a striking mark on the global agricultural economy. European countries directly involved in military actions, particularly Central and Eastern European countries, including Russia, suffered the most. After the war, many agricultural experts and policymakers across the globe engaged in debates about the future of agriculture. Of particular concern were droughts that posed threat to millions of people whose food supply had already been undermined by the four years of WWI and, in Russia’s case, by the Civil War (1918-1921). When the Volga region was hit by a series of consecutive drought years in 1919 and 1920, it experienced one of the worst famines in its history. While drought was not the single factor in what caused that famine, it became an issue that Soviet agricultural experts and scientists sought to address. To do so, they organized an extensive exchange of ideas and technologies with their foreign colleagues, particularly the United States. This talk will examine how, during the early 1920s, Soviet agricultural experts and scientists collaborated with their American colleagues to find a cure for future famines.

Annual Midwest Slavic Association Meeting

Saturday, April 2nd, 5:00-5:30PM, Pfahl Hall 2nd Floor Foyer

Student Mixer

Saturday, April 2nd, 5:30-7:30PM, Ethyl and Tank

General Conference Information


We do not provide lodging for any participants at the conference. We encourage undergraduate and graduate students to apply for travel grants from their home universities to cover all travel costs. If any documentation is needed to apply for funds, please email cseees@osu.edu.

Lodging options include:

Transportation and Parking

For those driving to campus, self-pay parking is available at parking garages close to the conference site in the Lane Avenue Garage and the Tuttle Garage.

A variety of taxi cab services also operate in the Columbus metro area, as well as Lyft and Uber.

Tips for Presentations and Submitting Papers to Panel Chairs 

You should prepare a presentation of 15-20 minutes in length, generally material that can be covered in an 8-10 page paper. If presenting or reading from a paper, be aware that reading directly from a paper is less engaging. Try to make eye-contact with the audience and not read word-for-word from the paper. Each panelist will present, then questions and discussion led by the chair will be at the end of the panel. Be respectful of other panelists' time to allow equal discussion and time for all members. Send your presentation materials to the panel chair promptly and do not send them longer versions of your paper, what you send them should represent what you will present at the conference. The conference rooms will each have a projector and internet access. Attendees should bring their own laptops and any special cords needed for connecting to a/v equipment. You can use PowerPoints or another presentation program, film clips, or other visual aids. Please prepare a backup in case you encounter any issues accessing your presentation. The conference site will have staff on hand to help. If you have any questions about a/v or software in the conference rooms, please email cseees@osu.edu in advance.

Dining Options

There are many dining options located in easy walking distance from the conference location, the Blackwell Inn and Conference Center. Below are a few close options but by no means is it an inclusive list.

Knowledge Bank

Knowledge Bank is a digital repository maintained by OSU's University Libraries. Conference participants can elect to have their abstracts, papers, and PowerPoints included in Knowledge Bank. Within Knowledge Bank, CSEEES has created a community for the Midwest Slavic Conference that contains programs and participants' materials. Knowledge Bank is accessible through the University Libraries' website and is open to everyone, including those not affiliated with OSU. Papers are searchable and downloadable, helping to increase the impact of the conference and providing a way to spread participants' work. Learn more about the Knowledge Bank.

Check out CSEEES' community today!

Prior Conferences

2021 Conference

Thursday, April 15 - Saturday, April 18, 2021

The 2021 conference was held in a virtual, online format. Information is available on the 2021 Midwest Slavic Conference Website.

Keynote address: “The Geography of Joy: Alex Dubas, Voices of Russian Happiness, and the Art of Translation”, by Dr. Yvonne Howell, University of Richmond

Plenary panel: “Manufacturing Consent: The Politics of Showmanship in Putin’s Russia” by Dr. Hannah S. Chapman, Miami University, “Temporalities of Concrete: Housing Imaginaries at the Margins of Europe” by Dr. Smoki Musaraj, Ohio University, and “War Memory as Entertainment in 21st Century Russia” by Dr. Karen Petrone, University of Kentucky

2020 Conference

Sunday, September 13, 1:00 - 4:00PM EDT

Co-sponsored by The Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Department of History OSU, Department of Linguistics OSU, Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures OSU, Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies OSU, the Undergraduate International Studies Program OSU, and University Libraries.

The 2020 Conference was originally scheduled for April 2020 but cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The originally scheduled conference keynote and plenary panel were held on September 13 online. No panels were held.

Keynote address: "Ordinary Apocalypse and Everyday Science Fiction" by Dr. Anindita Banerjee, Cornell University

2019 Conference

Friday, April 5th - Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Co-sponsored by Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Department of History, OSU, Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures OSU, The John Glenn College of Public Affairs OSU, and the Undergraduate International Studies Program OSU.

The 2019 conference had over 60 panelists and over 100 attendees. Papers, abstracts, and the conference program can be found in the conference's Knowledge Bank collection.

Keynote address: “A Farewell to an Empire Revisited” by Dr. Vitaly Chernetsky, University of Kansas

2018 Conference

Friday, March 23rd - Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Co-sponsored by The Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian StudiesCenter for African Studies, OSU, Center for Latin American Studies, OSU, Department of History OSU, Department of Political Science, OSU, Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, OSU, Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, OSU, East Asian Studies Center, OSU, The Global Mobility Project OSU, The John Glenn College of Public Affairs, OSU, The Mershon Center for International Security Studies, OSU, Middle East Studies Center, OSU , The Resource Center for Medieval Slavic Studies, OSU, The Undergraduate International Studies Program OSU

Keynote address: "The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World" by Dr. Tara Zahra, University of Chicago

2018 Midwest Slavic Conference Knowledge Bank Community

2017 Conference

Friday, April 7th - Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Co-sponsored by The Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, The Center for Slavic and East European Studies OSU, The Department of Comparative Studies OSU, The Department of History OSU, The Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures OSU, The Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies OSU, The Hilandar Research Library OSU, The Mershon Center for International Security Studies OSU, The Midwest Slavic Association, The Office of International Affairs OSU, The Resource Center for Medieval Slavic Studies OSU, and The Undergraduate International Studies Program, OSU.

Over 70 panelists presented at the conference with close to 150 attendees. Papers, abstracts, and program from the conference can be found in the conference's Knowledge Bank collection.

Keynote Address: "Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia, The Challenge of Covering Russia" by Anne Garrels

Prior Conference Programs

Programs from prior conferences can be found on CSEEES' Knowledge Bank community along with other materials from the conference.