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RACE IN FOCUS: Talking About Whiteness: Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia

February 19, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm



Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia


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.


Roman Utkin is an Assistant Professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at Wesleyan University. Utkin specializes in twentieth-century Russian and Soviet poetry, prose, and visual culture. He enjoys teaching and writing on queer theory, exile, comparative modernisms, performance studies, and cinema. His current book project, Russian Berlin, examines the patterns of migration and cultural flows between Eastern and Central Europe and shows how refugees from Soviet Russia formed a unique diasporic community in Weimar Berlin. A native speaker of both Tatar and Russian, Roman serves on the board of the Committee on Advocacy for Diversity and Inclusion within the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian


Marius Turda is a Professor in 20th Century Central and Eastern European Biomedicine at Oxford Brookes University. He is the founder-director of the Cantemir Institute at the University of Oxford (2012-2013) and founder of the Working Group on the History of Eugenics and Race (HRE), established in 2006. Between 2010 and 2014 he was Deputy Director, The Centre for Health, Medicine and Society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Galton Institute.



Lauren Woodard is a Postdoctoral Associate at the MacMillan Center at Yale University. Trained as a cultural anthropologist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, her research focuses on migration, race, and national identity in Russia. Based on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted among government officials and immigrants in Russia, her book project, The Politics of Return, examines tensions between exclusion and inclusion in Russia’s migration policies.




photo: Sean Roberts

Sean Roberts is an Associate Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and the Director of the International Development Studies Program at George Washington University. His present research is focused on China’s development of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as well as on democracy development in former Soviet Central Asia. Roberts continues his applied work on the design and evaluation of democracy and governance projects in the former Soviet Union, most recently in Ukraine where he worked on a United States Agency for International Development project to support decentralization and anti-corruption.




Monika Bobako is an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at Adam Mickiewicz University. Her specializations include political anthropology, postcolonial theory, feminist theory, critical race theory, and religious studies. She is the author of Islamophobia as a Technology of Power: A Study in Political Anthropology (Kraków, 2017) and Democracy and Difference. Multiculturalism and Feminism in the Perspective of the Politics of Recognition (Poznań, 2010)



February 19, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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