Director's Notes

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Spring semester is the time when the Center for Slavic and East European Studies (CSEES), together with the Midwest Slavic Association, hosts the Midwest Slavic Conference at Ohio State. This year, the conference took place March 23-25 and highlighted the theme of migration. The keynote speaker was Tara Zahra, Professor of East European History at University of Chicago, who spoke about her book, The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World (published in 2016 by University of Chicago Press). She discussed the history of Eastern European migration to the New World between 1846 and 1940 and the political responses to the movement, as well as the personal experiences of the migrants. Building on the migration theme, the first full day of the conference opened with a plenary panel titled "Borders, Barriers, and Belonging: A Spotlight on Global Migration." The panel, moderated by Professor Zahra, was comprised of scholars doing work on migrations in the East European, Russian and Eurasian region as well as within and across other major world regions: the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and East Asia. Panelists covered both historical and contemporary topics in migration and aimed to connect world regions by examining and comparing different experiences of migration. This panel was organized in collaboration with our sister area studies centers: the Center for African Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, East Asian Studies Center and the Middle East Studies Center. Such collaboration enriches the CSEES mission and greatly benefits all who are associated with the Center.

The Midwest Slavic Conference also included many sessions and panels where faculty, graduate and undergraduate students from Ohio State and other higher education institutions in the Midwest, the U.S., and abroad presented their work. Several sessions and many papers were focused on migration, including sessions titled, “Movement and Migration: People, Identities, and Ideas”; “Migration and Its Effects in East and West Europe”; “Emigration, Migration, Exile — Part I and Part II”; and “Migration and Minorities in Post-Communist Countries.”

Another CSEES highlight this spring was a week-long visit from a Ukrainian colleague, Svitlana Babenko, associate professor of sociology at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Professor Babenko met with faculty and students to discuss possible collaborations between the Center and her department and gave a talk about the current social, economic and political issues in Ukraine. We are in the process of developing an agreement between our two institutions that will allow for future faculty exchanges and graduate student language study abroad. This particular initiative is part of a larger plan to develop collaborations with several universities in the East and Central European region in order to provide more international research, teaching and learning opportunities to our faculty and students.

It is with mixed emotions that I recently announced I will be retiring from Ohio State at the end of August 2018. Directing the Center for Slavic and East European Studies has been immensely rewarding for me both professionally and personally. I have enjoyed working with a stellar faculty, outstanding students and excellent staff. In the two years I have been director, I have come to appreciate deeply the importance of the work this area studies center does at the university, in Ohio, nationally and internationally. I want to thank everyone associated with CSEES for the privilege of affording me the opportunity to contribute to the Center’s mission.

With best spring wishes,  

Jill Bystydzienski