Macalester students and faculty have organized the annual Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies Conference conference each spring since 1992. Events include a nationally recognized speaker, a term paper competition in which students compete for cash prizes, and an evening gala event.

In 2018, our conference featured two sports-related talks in honor of the 2018 World Cup that took place for the first time in Russia! Mac alum Chris Pascone ’01 presented on “Using Russian to Make a Career in Professional Soccer“; and Tim Harte, Professor of Russian literature at Bryn Mawr College, gave a talk titled “Higher and Faster: Athletics, Art, and Ideology in Russia and the Soviet Union” about the significance of sports for the arts and literary culture in Russia.

In 2017, Brian Johnson, Professor of Russian literature at Swarthmore College and Mac alum, gave a talk titled “What I did (and do) with my Russian Degree from Macalester”, in which he discussed his research and how studying Russian at Macalester shaped his career. This year’s conference was concluded with an outing to the Museum of Russian Art, accompanied by Brian and other Russian faculty members.

In 2016, Kevin Rothrock, editor @RuNetEcho and co-manager @RuNetMemes, gave a talk titled “Trolling to Success: How Provoking and Offending People Came to Define Russian Political Discourse, and Why That’s Fine” and Emily Baran ’03, Assistant Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, spoke on “Soviet Power and Christian Dissent.”

In 2015, Eliot Borenstein, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at NYU, discussed “The Talking Dead: Articulating the ‘Zombified’ Subject Under Putin” and Krista Goff ‘04, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Miami, gave a talk titled “The ‘Separatist’ Among Us: Researching Soviet Minority Politics in the Post-Soviet Caucasus.”

In 2014, artist Yevgenii Fiks gave a talk introducing his exhibit “Impossible Histories, Impossible Sites” at Macalester’s Law Warschaw Gallery; and Cassandra Hartblay ’06, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, UNC-Chapel Hill, spoke about “#SochiProblems: Rehabilitating Russia from the Perpetual ‘FAIL Blog’ Role.”

In 2013, economist Rick Erickson presented on Russia’s transition to capitalism, and diplomat Tom Hansen discussed the relationship between Russia and the U. S. In 2012, Professor Marc Robinson of St. Olaf College introduced and led a post-screening discussion of the new documentary film, Putin’s Kiss, about the sinister side of the Nashi youth movement in contemporary Russia. In 2011, Rachel May, Coordinator of Sustainability Education at Syracuse University, spoke about what environmental scientists and literary scholars can learn from one another. In 2010, postmodernist performer Psoy Korolenko accompanied the 1927 silent film Bed and Sofa with a live soundtrack combining piano and rhymed scholarly discourse.

Paper contest guidelines

For information, please contact

Other Past speakers have included:

  • Simon Morrison (Princeton University)
  • David Brandenberger (University of Richmond)
  • Viktor Pivovarov (Russian Conceptualist artist) spoke about the contemporary Russian art scene (“Poet in a Snowed-In City”) and the conference featured an exhibit of his art (2004)
  • Paul Wilson (writer, editor, and former member of the legendary rock band, The Plastic People of the Universe) – “Then and Now: What Happens to Yesterday’s Radicals When the World Turns Upside Down?” (2004)
  • Irina Paperno (UC-Berkeley) – “Stalin: “Remembering March 5, 1953” (2003)
  • Hilde Hoogenboom – “Women on Top: The Empress, the Academician, and the Cavalry Officer” (2003)
  • Michael Alexeev – “Fiscal Federalism in Russia’s Regions” (2002)
  • Nikolay Petrov – “Putin’s New Economic Reforms” (2002)
  • Igor Zevelev (RIA-Novosti) – “Russian Ethnonationalism and Regional Security”
  • Peter Rutland (Wesleyan University) – “The IMF Transition Model and the Reality of Russian Reform”
  • Alexis Pogorelskin (University of Michigan) – “New Perspectives on Karelian Fever”
  • Igor Zevelev – “The Russian Quest for a New Identity, the Implications for Security in Eurasia”
  • Jerry Hough – “Russian Reform in Comparative Perspective”
  • Nodari Simonia – “Bureaucratic Capitalism in Russia & Its Political Implications”