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RACE IN FOCUS: New Directions in Research: Race, Gender, and Indigeneity in the American Arctic and Siberia

February 12, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


PART 2. New Directions in Research

Race, Gender, and Indigeneity in the American Arctic and Siberia

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Join us to hear from distinguished scholars and educators about methods for incorporating critical pedagogies of race into teaching about language, culture, history, and society in Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia.

Among the first African Americans to join the American Communist Party and an important architect of communist approaches to race, racism, and African American equality, Lovett Fort- Whiteman (1889-1939) was one of the US citizens convinced (naively, to be sure) that Soviet society showed the way for overcoming racism in the United States. While visiting the USSR in 1924, Fort-Whiteman wrote to W.E.B. Du Bois: “There is a perfect spirit of internationalism here.” “Women from the various Circassian republics and Siberia, men from China, Japan, Korea, India, etc. all live as one large family, look upon one another simply as human beings … Here, life is poetry itself! It is the Bolshevik idea of social relations, and a miniature of the world of tomorrow.”

Communist positions on race and racism have yielded both successes and failures worldwide since 1917. Despite the mixed results, Fort-Whiteman’s words recall the impact that global colonialism has had on the social construction of identity, including in our world region; its legacy on research and teaching in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (SEEES); and its effect on perpetuating systemic inequities in academia as a whole. To address this legacy, this series is designed to elevate conversations about teaching on race and continued disparities in our field while also bringing research by scholars from underrepresented minorities and/or on communities of color to the center stage.

The series will comprise four segments: two pedagogy webinars; two lighting rounds on the experience of scholars of color in the field; and two roundtables featuring research by scholars from underrepresented minorities and/or on racial minorities, concluding with a forum on the reception of the Black Lives Matter movement in our field.


Manduhai Buyandelger is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at MIT who studies how democratic elections and neoliberal policies influence the co-constitution of gender and politics, and the ways in which Mongolian case makes legible some of the taken-for-granted and normalized aspects of democratization in more established democracies elsewhere. Her first book Tragic Spirits: Shamanism, Gender, and Memory in Contemporary Mongolia (University of Chicago Press, 2013) won a 2014 Francis L.K. Hsu book prize from the Society of East Asian Anthropology and she is at work on her second book, tentatively titled A Thousand Steps to the Parliament: Women Running for Election in Postsocialist Neoliberalizing Mongolia.


“Big Noses, Angry Babushki, Mixed Messages: Racialized Expectations of Linguistic and Cultural Performance in Asian Russia”

Kathryn Graber is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University at Bloomington. Her research focuses on language and media in post-socialist Eurasia. She is the author of Mixed Messages: Mediating Native Belonging in Asian Russian (Cornell University Press, 2020) which engages debates about the role of minority media in society, alternative visions of modernity, and the impact of media on everyday language use


“Gender Articulations from Decolonial Indigenous Perspectives in the Russian and American Arctic”

Olga Ulturgasheva is a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. She has carried out ethnographic research on childhood and adolescence, narrative and memory, animist and nomadic cosmologies, reindeer herding and hunting, climate change, and the latest environmental transformations in Siberia and Alaska. Since 2006 she has been engaged in a number of international projects exploring human and non-human personhood, youth resilience, climate change, and adaptation patterns in Siberia, the American Arctic, and Amazonia. She is an author of Narrating the Future in Siberia: Childhood, Adolescence and Autobiography among the Eveny (Berghahn Books 2012) and co-editor of Animism in Rainforest and Tundra: Personhood, Animals, Plants and Things in Contemporary Amazonia and Siberia (Berghahn 2012).



February 12, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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