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Call for Papers - Centrifugal Forces: Reading Russia’s Regional Identities and Initiatives - Charlottesville, USA

Conference venue: Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Period: March 26-28, 2015
Deadline for submitting abstracts: December 1, 2014



Contemporary Russia has been described as a “country of broken links,” where much of the financial and intellectual wealth of the country is centered in Moscow and Moscow Region (with a population of nearly 20 million), while the rest of the country (another 123 million people) remain unheard and underestimated. At first glance, Russia’s regions often appear to mimic Moscow in all sorts of ways—politically, visually, architecturally, and intellectually… Until they don’t—for example, in the 2010 census thousands of Siberians protested the impact of the center by self-identifying as “Sibiriak.” Blogs, tweets, as well as conventional hard-copy writing, challenge overly centralized power and resources. Legal challenges to maltreatment from Moscow have arisen in the South Russian-North Caucasus region. Ethnographers, literary scholars, cultural historians, political scientists, anthropologists—all are finding that many people in Russia’s regions are taking initiative and articulating their particular identities and interests.

Proposals for “Centrifugal Forces” will resist “Moscow-centric” perceptions of Russia and, through various disciplinary approaches to studying the Russian provinces, strive to hear voices from the regions instead of allowing views and opinions from Moscow to dominate. They will consider ways in which people on the peripheries engage in cultural, economic, and political processes; how they represent themselves culturally, artistically, and socially; how self-perception is developing in various regions; and, importantly in the 21st century, how the Internet impacts the very notions of center and periphery.

“Centrifugal Forces” will be a three-day conference offering broad interdisciplinary perspectives on approaching regional study. Panels will blend historical and contemporary perspectives on being peripheral. Talks will deal with a broad array of regional experience, in relatively “hot” regions such as the North Caucasus, as well as other areas in European and Asiatic Russia; and addressing activity in rural areas, as well as regional cities.

Eligible topics

Themes might include but are not limited to contemporary or historical themes that characterize aspects of regional cultures that show local and regional initiative:

  • Distinctive cultural groups, organizations and institutions (museums, theaters, film-making and music initiatives, literary groups)
  • Political organizations that support regional rights and interests
  • Religious organization and expression showing regional initiative
  • Defining or distinctive regional/local rituals and events
  • City or rural regional “branding”
  • Uses of the Internet (e.g. to help regional people communicate, bond, and organize)
  • Distinctive local/ regional imagined geographies

For more information please visit our website.

Guidelines for submission

The organizers invite 20-minute papers from scholars from all relevant disciplines. Please submit a 250-word abstract by December 1, 2014 to:


  • Edith Clowes, Brown-Forman Professor, Slavic, Univ. of Virginia
  • Gisela Erbslöh, Radio journalist, SWR, DLF, deutschlandradiokultur, Germany
  • Ani Kokobobo, Assistant Professor, Slavic, University of Kansas

Information & contacts

Edith Clowes
University of Virginia


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