Project Update #16: Presenting at the Central Eurasian Studies Society Conference


Project Update #16: Presenting at the Central Eurasian Studies Society Conference


November 5, 2018

Part of: World Bank & Sexual Violence Research Initiative Project: ‘Combatting Sexual Violence in Kyrgyzstan through Innovative Education and Information Technology (Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia)’

Dr Elena Kim, Dr Elena Molchanova, and Dr Frank G. Karioris



Between October 25th and 28th 2018, Dr Elena Kim and Dr Frank G. Karioris had the great honor and pleasure of presenting at the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) conference. This annual conference was hosted this year at the University of Pittsburgh. The conference was hosted, organized, and sponsored by the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, the Asian Studies Center, the University Center for International Studies, the Office of the Provost’s Year of PittGlobal initiative, the Humanities Center, University of Pittsburgh Press, Confucius Institute, World History Center, the School of Education, and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.


The conference was set up with a broad-based focus on Eurasia. The organizers say:

“At the University of Pittsburgh, we have a broad vision of what constitutes Central Eurasia—a region that spans from China to Turkey and from India to Russia. Our approach does not fit into any single ‘area studies’ paradigm, but instead seeks to break down barriers and old silos that have served to separate scholars from the region. We worked hard to ensure that our vision is captured in this year’s conference.”

This belief in the expansiveness of Eurasia, as both cultural and constituted region, speaks to the importance of connecting beyond national borders and making connections – personally and conceptually – outside of these demarcations.


CESS, founded in 2000, has “over 600 members in 15+ countries, and hosts both an Annual Conference held in North America and a biennial Regional Conference held in the Central Eurasia region. The Society supports 6 annual awards, 2 journals, travel grants, workshops, and a collaborative blog.”


This CESS conference had the largest number of submissions, as well as the greater number of presentations to date. Throughout the weekend, presentations were made on topics ranging from linguistics to economics, from gender to migration.


On Friday, the conference’s Keynote Lecture was delivered by Dr Orzala Nemat, Director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. Dr Nemat’s lecture, ‘The Power of Evidence-Based Research in Policy Making: Lessons from Afganistan’, provided insights into the pathway for doing research that is not only attuned to policy but is able to make direct impacts in political discourse and policies themselves. Dr Nemat shared about her background and her trajectory and aims for the organization.


As part of the conference, Drs Kim and Karioris presented their paper “Masculinity and Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan” as part of a panel organized by Dr Saltanat Childress, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Arizona State University, titled “Prevention and Responses to Violence against Women in Central Asian Settings: A transnational feminism and approaches”.


Their paper aimed to open up discussion regarding the role of men in bride kidnapping, complicating simplistic narratives and binaries of victim/villain. They noted the importance of putting men’s role in bride kidnapping in relation with wider structures, most especially pastoralism and the importance surrounding marriage.


The panel had the great honor of having Prof Katalin Fabian as Discussant, who provided keen and critical insights into the presentations of all those on the panel, pushing theorizing and analysis forward in all cases. Drs Kim and Karioris look forward to incorporating Prof Fabian’s insightful comments as they move forward with the paper and turn it into an article for publication.


At the conference, Dr Kim also acted as Chair for the panel “Gender & Identity”. Further, Dr Kim was a discussant in the Roundtable “Intellectual subjectivities of Central Asian women in public sector: when “field” is your home, cause and livelihood”. This roundtable acted as an informal – but critical and critically important – conversation about the role and importance of gender in the doing, creation of, and publishing of research. At the end of the roundtable, it was decided to publish excerpts from the conversation, which will be forthcoming.


Throughout the conference, the team met scholars and researchers from around the world. The team looks forward to future collaborations building off of these meetings.

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