New! Joint Program: Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, M.A., and Library and Information Science, M.S.

This joint master’s degree includes a program of language and area studies courses leading to an interdisciplinary Master of Arts degree in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, as well as a program of study leading to the Master of Science in Library and Information Science. The joint degree matches area expertise with professional education, and prepares students for professional careers in all types of information organizations, including libraries.

The joint degree requires 56 credit hours divided between REEES and iSchool courses. A minimum GPA of 3.25 must be maintained throughout in order to remain in good academic standing.

For more information, please visit the program’s page at catalog.illinois.edu.

REEEC Fall Reception 2018

On Thursday, September 27, 2018, the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center community gathered in the International Studies Building to kick off the academic year with fall-themed snacks, light beverages and old-fashioned chitchat. A major focus of this year’s Fall Reception was the recognition of the Center’s Foreign Languages and Area Studies fellows, both for Summer 2018 and for AY 2018/19 (listed below), and its freshly awarded US Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center (NRC) and FLAS funding.
Dr. Donna Buchanan, Interim Director of REEEC, introduced this year’s FLAS awardees and REEEC graduate students. She then congratulated everyone involved in securing the competitive Title VI and FLAS funding for the Center, including faculty, staff and students. During her opening remarks, a slideshow ran at the front of the room, consisting of photos submitted from REEEC Summer FLAS fellows. These pictures were submitted from among ten students from eight different departments, studying four different languages, who, with Center assistance, studied in Russia, Kazakhstan, Israel and other countries this summer.
We at REEEC would again like to congratulate this year’s FLAS awardees, and wish good luck to faculty, staff and students as the new academic year begins. Udachi vsem vam!
Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
Academic Year 2018-2019
Graduate Students:
Elizabeth Abosch (Russian) – History
Melissa Bialecki (Ukrainian) – Musicology
Tyler Dolan (Ukrainian) – Slavic
Sydney Lazarus (Russian) – Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Sarah Leffingwell (Russian) – Political Science
Kathryn O’Dowd (Czech) – Sociology
Victoria Sobolev (Ukrainian) – Advertising
Jesse Mikhail Wesso (Russian) – Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Undergraduate Students:
Priyasha Bhatt (Turkish) – Anthropology
Jamie Hendrickson (Russian) – Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

For more information about our FLAS fellows, please visit our Graduate Students and FLAS Fellows page.

To keep up to date with center events and news, please also like us on Facebook.

REEES + Global Informatics Certificate

We are happy to announce the new Global Informatics Certificate Program at UIUC, in partnership with Illinois Informatics. This program allows undergraduate students to declare an Informatics minor in addition to a major in REEES, and, upon completion, awards a Global Informatics Certificate, preparing students to enter a world “in which information technologies are ubiquitous, evolving, and global in scope.” This program combines the international knowledge and engagement of a REEES major with the computational tools and technical problem-solving of an Informatics minor.

The only additional coursework required for the certificate is a capstone project course, which pulls together knowledge and interests from both the major and the minor fields.

If you are interested, feel free to contact Maureen Marshall memarsh@illinois.edu (REEES) or Karin Readel kereadel@illinois.edu (Informatics).

Academic Year FLAS Fellows

The Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center is pleased to announce the awardees for this academic year’s Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship, funded by the U. S. Department of Education. This year ten students from eight different departments will be studying four different REEES languages and related area studies scholarship at the University of Illinois. We at REEEC would like to extend our congratulations to the following students for the national recognition of their studies:

Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowships
Academic Year 2018-2019

Graduate Students:
Elizabeth Abosch (Russian) – History
Melissa Bialecki (Ukrainian) – Musicology
Tyler Dolan (Ukrainian) – Slavic
Sydney Lazarus (Russian) – Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Sarah Leffingwell (Russian) – Political Science
Kathryn O’Dowd (Czech) – Sociology
Victoria Sobolev (Ukrainian) – Advertising
Jesse Mikhail Wesso (Russian) – Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Undergraduate Students:
Priyasha Bhatt (Turkish) – Anthropology
Jamie Hendrickson (Russian) – Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

For more information about our FLAS fellows, please visit our Graduate Students and FLAS Fellows page.

To keep up to date with center events and news, please also like us on Facebook.

Julia Leikin, “Eighteen Greeks and One Armenian: Voices of Black Sea Merchants in the Early Nineteenth Century”

On June 19th, the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center hosted a talk entitled Eighteen Greeks and one Armenian: voices of Black Sea merchants in the early nineteenth century by Dr. Julia Leikin, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Exeter and the 2018 Fisher Fellow. The talk followed Dr. Leikin’s participation in the Fisher Workshop in the preceding days and centered around her current research on “Russian practices of sovereignty at sea and the legal construction of maritime space” in the early modern period and later.

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Dr. Leikin began her talk by providing context for the broader field of study, tracing a narrative of Russian Imperial maritime law that begins with the 1768 Russo-Turkish war. She points to the late eighteenth century as the time in which the Russian Empire became party to international discussions of maritime norms and began adapting these norms to its own needs in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The study of historical maritime law in this case is centered around what Dr. Leikin describes as the “intersection of war and commerce as seen by imperial St. Petersburg” in her given time frame, specifically as this concerns evolving historical questions surrounding the relationship between ships of war and ships of trade as dictated from the imperial center and realized on the sea. More broadly, this study can involve looking at the ways in which military ships secured shipping lanes for their own trade vessels and commandeered enemy vessels in times of war. While this field of study is sometimes discussed as though it existed in a context of consistent international regulations, in reality each empire set its own policy as to what constituted an enemy ship and why it was liable to be captured. This created a fascinating and inconstant web of sometimes corresponding and sometimes conflicting international laws and priorities that were open to manipulation from a variety of sources.

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Dr. Leikin uses the specific example of the 1809 seizure of an Ottoman-flagged ship crewed primarily by Greek merchants in order to draw her context into focus. After being boarded by sailors of the Russian navy, neither the vessel nor its prisoners offered resistance as they were brought to port in Crimea. Instead, the crew of the ship sought legal recourse through the provincial admiralty court system, arguing that the Russian Empire had not previously treated their coreligionists this way. In such cases as this, the burden fell on merchants to prove that the seizure of their ships was unjust, and so the merchants composed a petition — described by Dr. Leikin as typical of the genre — explaining the difficulties in procuring the capital to acquire a merchant vessel in the first place and detailing their future suffering and penury should the seizure of their ship be deemed legal under wartime law. Though many strategies in navigating Russian admiralty courts were surely employed by the diverse crews of confiscated vessels, the crew in this specific example appealed to notions of Christian brotherhood in search of justice; indeed, the letter goes so far as to assert that the crew supported the Russian Empire in its war against the Ottomans, casting Greeks and Armenians in Ottoman lands as natural allies to the Orthodox Russians. Dr. Leikin makes clear that this choice of narrative is not isolated. Instead, her work seeks to connect this sort of appeal — to mercy for the merchants and their families, specifically as fellow Orthodox Christians — to the image the Russian Imperial center sought to project; her narrative also seeks to bridge trends in the Black Sea with similar earlier rhetorical strategies employed by petitioners in the Eastern Mediterranean. As Russia’s 1806 Prize Law made no customary exemption for Ottoman Christian merchants in times of war, these sorts of appeals relied on precedent more than legality.

Pointing to her broader work, Dr. Leikin noted that her scholarship on this topic disrupts a narrative of Christian migration in the period as being usually highly ideological. Instead — as illustrated in this specific example of a commandeered ship and its crew’s rhetorical strategies for regaining their property — a desire to draw upon supposed connections between Christian peoples in the Black Sea region and surrounding lands was a highly practical act for merchants. Where simply appealing to Christian mercy and precedent was sometimes sufficient to have commandeered ships returned, many future merchants would also add the right to fly the Russian flag to their arsenal of tools to avoid loss of profit and property. Dr. Leikin connects these themes across decades, wars, and seas, and shows how later shifts in apparent allegiance may well be due more to practical concerns than religious ones.

 

Tyler Dolan is a PhD student in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on Russian-Jewish and Yiddish language literature of the Russian Revolution and interwar period.

2018 Fisher Fellow: Julia Leikin

img_1237Julia Leikin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, was awarded the 2018 Fisher Fellowship for her research on Russian maritime law and international relations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The fellowship — named after Dr. Ralph Fisher, the founder of SRL and REEEC, and a champion for building the Slavic collection at the University of Illinois Library — provides funding to a scholar with a particularly promising research project for participation in the Summer Research Lab. Dr. Leikin generously agreed to answer some questions about her experiences as Fisher fellow and with SRL.

What brought you to SRL and how did you hear about it?

I have known about the excellent programming at REEEC for years. Several friends have mentioned working there at different points, so I definitely wanted to take advantage of the resources available at UIUC at the right point in my project. For me, that turned out to be towards the end of the research phase for my first book. I am tracking down a long list of references that I have accumulated over the past several years, and Illinois happens to be one of the few places where most – if not all – of these references are available in one place.

What have you found most useful about the collections or reference services here at Illinois?

So many things! First of all, like all research librarians, Joe Lenkart and his team deserve recognition for their expertise and professionalism. They have curated and oversee a fabulous collection! In advance of my arrival, they sent me lists of things that were relevant to my project and prepared stacks of books for me to get started once I got here. So, it was really helpful to have someone “introduce” me to resources I may not have thought to look for on my own. I spent a lot of my time working with imperial Russian periodicals (Moskvitianin, Sovremennik, Moskovskie vedomosti), and it was really convenient to have both the thematic indices and the newspapers themselves in one place. That way, I could quickly bookmark things that looked promising and then grab the microfilm and read the articles I selected. And there were so many other things that I didn’t have time to look at, but the SRS folks said they could get it to me in Exeter through interlibrary loan.

What has been the focus of your research here?

For the most part, my work at the summer lab was tied to the final part of my manuscript. This part is about the Russian Black Sea and the final chapter draws on published materials to gauge the extent of public interest in maritime issues. I presented portions of my research at the Ralph T. Fisher Workshop organized by Eva Rogaar and Ben Bamberger and in my Noontime lecture, and I tracked down articles for the numerous references to published materials I had accumulated in the process.

Did your findings adhere to your expectations? If not, how were you surprised by what you’ve found? Did anything change the direction of your current projects?

Well, I was looking for very specific things, so there wasn’t much room for serendipity. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Sankt-peterburgskie vedomosti had an index for the 18th century. Unfortunately, it was a little difficult to use and based on very generic categories, so I couldn’t work out the best way to use it for my questions. I’m still thinking about it. I also scanned a few reference books to begin thinking about the second project – I expect those will go a long way towards shaping it, but it’s still too soon to tell.

What are your goals/plans for after SRL – either later in the summer or in the coming year?

After SRL I went to the tenth international conference of the Study Group for Eighteenth Century Russia in Strasbourg. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the group, and it was a grand affair hosted by Rodolphe Baudin at the University of Strasbourg. It was a great conference interspersed with cultural outings in the city and World Cup playoffs. Now, the social part of my summer is over and it is full steam ahead (naval metaphor – forgive me!) on writing.

How was your visit to Champaign-Urbana? Did you discover any great restaurants or bars here that you’d recommend to future workshop participants and fellows?

I had a great stay in Champaign-Urbana – it’s a beautiful campus. The bell tower made me think of Andrei Rublev – I suppose that’s the Russian historian in me. Great food too – the folks who organized the Fisher Workshop introduced us to several great places. We ate at The Himalayan Chimney and The Red Herring, and I liked these places so much that I went back. A friend who studied at UIUC also told me to go to Blind Pig brewery and Maize for tacos. And a friend who wrote a book about craft coffee tipped me off about BrewLab Coffee, which is just down the street from the dorm. (I never made it to that other place you guys recommended.) Those are all the essential food groups – so I was pretty much set.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Only that I was grateful not only for the resources in the library, but also for the other participants in the summer lab. I received great questions and comments after my talks, and I learned a lot from the other papers and the discussion at the Fisher Workshop. It is so important to have that chance to zoom out and see how your work fits into a broader conversation.

Kathryn David: “Bolsheviks Don’t Close Churches: Promoting Russian Orthodoxy in Newly Soviet West Ukraine”

On July 10th, Kathryn David presented her Noontime Scholars Lecture titled: “‘Bolsheviks Don’t Close Churches:’ Promoting Russian Orthodoxy in Newly Soviet West Ukraine.” Kathryn David is a PhD candidate in History at New York University.  She is also a 2018 Summer Research Lab associate.

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David’s lecture focused on the formal reunification of the Greek Catholic, or Uniate, churches of Galicia with the Russian Orthodox Church by the Lviv sabor in 1946.  Galicia was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until its collapse in 1772 and was therefore impacted by the Union of Brest.  The Union of Brest occurred in 1596 when the Ruthenian Orthodox Church decided to come under the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, thereby creating the Greek Catholic Church.  When the region was incorporated into the Soviet Union, the majority of the Galician population was comprised of Greek Catholics, who generally retained Orthodox rituals, but recognized the papacy—rather than the Moscow patriarchate.  Russian Orthodoxy was relatively marginalized.

The reunification of the Greek Catholic churches of Galicia with the Russian Orthodox Church was ultimately the result of political concerns.  First, the Soviets imagined that, because the Greek Catholics recognized the papacy, they were connected to a foreign power and therefore potentially disloyal.  Second, they feared that the Greek Catholics of Galicia would envision themselves as members of an imagined Polish community.  Indeed, David noted that the initial support for the invading German army in Galicia during the Second World War prompted Beria to launch the campaign against Greek Catholicism.  The campaign, which eventually led to formal reunification, was conducted at the level of the congregation.  Greek Catholic priests were first required to register their congregations with the Russian Orthodox Church at the state office.  Then they were required to align their church rituals to those of Russian Orthodoxy, which included recognizing Patriarch Alexei in Moscow.

However, the potential disloyalty of the Greek Catholics of Galicia was not the only motivation for the campaign.  Reconversion to Russian Orthodoxy also represented the return of the population of Galicia—whom the Soviets regarded as Ukrainians—to Russia.  Moreover, David proposed that the campaign against Greek Catholicism was also a manifestation of Soviet nationalities policy.  Just as the Soviet authorities attempted to co-opt nationalism by establishing national institutions in non-Russian regions, they attempted to co-opt religion in Galicia by establishing Russian Orthodox institutions.  Thus, as David concluded, the reunification of Greek Catholic churches of Galicia with the Russian Orthodox Church was motivated by two competing objectives.  The Soviet authorities endeavored to create both a unified Ukrainian nation within the Soviet Union and an Orthodox Ukraine that shares a Russian heritage.

Kathleen Gergely is a second year student in the Master of Arts in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies.  Her research interests include political Islam in the North Caucasus, Russian counterterrorism policy, and regional administration in the Soviet Union and Russian Federation.