Back to Listing

2022 Slavic Graduate Student Association Conference: "Shifting Grounds: Changing Models of Nature in the Former Soviet Sphere"

Event Type
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Department of History; REEEC
Apr 15, 2022 - Apr 16, 2022   All Day
Free and open to the public.
Brian Yang and Alex Karsavin
briany5@illinois.edu, alexkarsavin@gmail.com
Originating Calendar
Russian, E. European & Eurasian Center: Co-sponsored Events

The Slavic Graduate Students Association (SGSA) in conjunction with the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and co-sponsored by the Department of History and REEEC at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign invites submissions for presentation proposals from scholars across disciplines to this year’s conference, titled “Shifting Grounds: Changing Models of Nature in the Former Soviet Sphere.” We invite all professors, graduate students, and professionals to submit papers related to our topic for consideration.  


This interdisciplinary conference is intended to explore the movement of disparate models of nature as they circulate through and coalesce into larger ideas about Post-Soviet and Eurasian existence. Political models of nature found in Soviet ecology hold continued relevance in our current age: any study of Eurasian histories or culture reveals itself as cut through by long environmental and geographic shifts—the plainest example being the pairing of colonization and conquest with large-scale terraforming projects. In the early days of the Soviet Union, an ascent public ecological consciousness allowed for the development of environmental conservation laws as early as 1928. Just a decade later, geologist Vladimir Vernadsky would popularize the concept of the noosphere in natural science, theorizing the mutual relationship between human cognition and earth’s systems as a “sphere of reason” in his seminal work Scientific Thought as a Planetary Phenomenon. Presently, environmental activism is once again resurgent in the FSU. The emergence of grassroot protest groups and interregional “green coalitions,” has heightened public awareness regarding regional inequalities, with emphasis being placed on the continued exploitation of indigenous lands by governmental and corporate interests. As climate change and environmental injustice takes a toll on Northern indigenous populations, how can we synthesize these historical threads and point towards new models of Post-Soviet ecologies? 


We are also excited to announce that our keynote speaker for this conference is Dr. Pey-Yi Chu, associate professor of History, from Pomona College. Dr. Chu specializes in environmental history of Russian and the Soviet Union. In her latest book The Life of Permafrost: A History of Frozen Earth in Russian and Soviet Science, Dr. Chu maps out the history of scientific inquiries of permafrost and how it contributed to modern environmental discourse.  


Relevant topics might include

● Histories of Soviet terraforming and environmental policies 

● Indigenous ecologies 

● Climate fictions and the production of history 

● Ecological and cultural conflicts of green industrialization 

● National identity in the Anthropocene 

● Histories and legacies of science and technology in the Soviet Union 

● Climate change and human geography in the FSU 

● Environmentally induced labor movement and migration 

● Reconciliation of theory and practice in historical and contemporary ecological conservation 

● Literary representations of nonhuman timescales and ecological collapse 

● Eschatological climate language and its political uses 

● Environmental heritage and fictions of state  


If you would like to participate, please submit an abstract (up to 350 words), the title of your paper, and your name, email address, institutional affiliation, year, major area of study, any audiovisual equipment requests, and whether you are interested in funding for travel expenses at the top of the page to briany5@illinois.edu or alexkarsavin@gmail.com, and please include “SGSA 2022 abstract” in your e-mail subject line . Some travel funding for out of state participants may be available.  


The deadline for submitting abstracts is February 15th, 2022. Participants will be notified by February 28th.  


The Conference will take place April 15-16. However, we will be continually observing the ever changing situation caused by covid-19. So, depending on the situation next spring, we will also be considering either a hybrid conference, or an online one.  

link for robots only