Dear CESS Colleagues,
The last year has been an extremely challenging one for Central Eurasia and our organization. Just as we started to navigate a somewhat normal life amid a pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had manifold unintended consequences. Some of the challenges to CESS have been longer term.
Most immediately, we know that many of our members in Central Eurasia have been unable to procure visas for travel to our North American conference at Indiana University. We have been working a wide variety of contacts to assist in this process and have recently had some success with those applying in Bishkek. The larger problem, however, remains. The USA and Canada, among others, have not dedicated sufficient resources for entrants from Central Eurasia (and elsewhere).
After the CESS elections and we have a new board in place, we will consider our conference structure moving forward, especially following our successful event this summer in Tashkent. We were delighted at the extraordinary turnout and enthusiasm among our members generated by that conference. Options could include a fully virtual conference (as the International Studies Association is now doing) or moving to an annual conference in Central Eurasia and less frequent and/or smaller gatherings in North America. We will gather member feedback throughout the process.
Just a few years ago, visa complications made it difficult for members from Central Eurasia to visit other countries in the region. This made a conference in North America more important. This situation has changed quite dramatically in recent years for many of our members. Travel within Central Eurasia has become much easier, while travel to North America has become much more costly and arduous.
Examining our conference structure would be a first step in addressing the multiple issues confronting our organization, especially those members located in Central Eurasia. We are committed to ensuring all our members are fully included in CESS. We encourage your feedback and suggestions at any point- from comments to us to in-person and virtual meetings. Do not hesitate to contact us directly to share any issues you are facing so we can try to help.
All our best wishes.
The Central Eurasian Studies Society Executive
Jennifer Murtazashvili (President)
Jeff Sahadeo (Incoming President)
Morgan Liu (Past President)