Macalester students and faculty have organized the annual Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies Conference conference each spring since 1992. Events include talks by nationally recognized speakers, community members engaged in human rights work, and alums sharing their experiences post-graduation, as well as an undergraduate research competition in which top participants receive cash prizes.

Student Research Competition 2022: Virtual Edition

In 2022, we held a virtual version of the Russian Studies Student Research Competition for the third year in a row. Mac students along with fellow scholars from other colleges and universities presented and discussed their work in real time on three panels. We are very grateful that we were able to host this celebration of knowledge, and we learned so much from our presenters!

Panel I (Power, Dissent, and Resistance): The first prize was awarded to Sophia Barkoff from the University of Chicago (“Social Ties as Tools of Resistance: The Collective Action Problem and Nonviolent Civil Action in Eastern Europe”)the second prize  was awarded to Kyle Tucker from Indiana University (“The Evolving Nature of Russia’s Nuclear Weapons Doctrine”)

Panel II (Us vs. Them): The first prize was awarded to Katherine Mansourova from the University of Notre Dame (“Russia’s Half Measure: Evaluating the Effectiveness and Outcomes of Russia’s Digital Sovereignty Policy”)the second prize was awarded to Alyssa Wiley from the University of Oklahoma (“Political and Ideological Biases in the Rankings and Country Descriptions of the Trafficking in Persons Report”)

Panel III (Understanding Across Difference): The first prize was shared by David Katz from Macalester College (“Скованные одной цепью: Contemporary and Historical Policies of Language and Identity in Ukraine and Georgia”) and Maryam Moghaddami from the University of Oregon (“Crimean Tatars: Through Conquest, Deportation, and Russian Reincorporation”); the second prize was awarded to Marie-Michelle Ivantechenko from Carnegie Mellon University (“The Role of Cultural Values in Shaping Mental Health Related Attitudes: A Cross-Cultural Study”)

Winning projects from 2021:

Interdisciplinary Studies I: The first prize was awarded to Emma Larson from Williams College (“The Making of Mothers in the Motherland: Pravda and The Soviet Family Code of 1936”)the second prize was awarded to Natalia San Antonio from Bryn Mawr College (“The Impact of Politics on the Progression of Natural Science in the Soviet Union”)

Interdisciplinary Studies II: The first prize  was awarded to Ana Gvozdić from Macalester College (“Memorialization of Children in War in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo”); the second prize was awarded to Zoe Fruchter from Grinnell College (“Returning the Gaze, but Not the Gift: Warsaw’s Palace of Culture in Contemporary Polish Film”)

Literature: The first prize was awarded to Amelia Parkes from the University of South Carolina (“Russian and Soviet Identities as Seen in Mikhail Zoshchenko and the Billancourt Tales by Nina Berberova”); the second prize was awarded to Rachel Liebherr from Macalester (“Lesbian Muses as Avenues for Connection in Sophia Parnok’s Poems to Marina Tsvetaeva”)

For an archive of past winning projects, visit our archive page.

Past speakers

In 2022, Alexandra Sakurets and Mariana Semeniuk led a conversation about the plight of Ukrainian refugees. Alexandra, a Twin Cities resident and registered nurse originally from Ukraine, provided humanitarian aid to refugees in Poland; and Mariana, herself a refugee, spent time in Poland caring for others who had fled the war before coming to Minneapolis, where she now lives.

In 2019, Professor Ann Komaromi (University of Toronto) presented a talk titled “Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future: On Kabakov’s Characters and the Detritus of Soviet Life“, in which she explored Kabakov’s reaction against Malevich’s avant-garde utopian vision and analyzed his re-imagination of the Gogolian “little person” located amidst the rubbish of Soviet everyday life.

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