The University of Pittsburgh recently became the epicenter of Central Eurasian scholarship as it hosted the annual conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) from October 19 to 22, 2023. In an event that has evolved into a cornerstone of scholarly exchange since its inception in 2000, this year’s gathering underscored the growing importance of interdisciplinary collaboration.
The conference was a veritable melting pot of ideas and cultural exchange, attracting over 300 delegates from across the globe, with less than half hailing from the United States. The event featured 73 panels, and 85 participants joined the discussions via a hybrid online format.
CESS 2023 invited submissions across a broad spectrum of humanities and social sciences concerning Central Eurasia, which includes regions from Central Asia to Eastern Europe. These panels underscored the conference’s dedication to a holistic understanding of the area’s diverse cultures, challenges, and history.
The pre-conference workshops were a particular highlight, drawing significant interest and laying the groundwork for the thoughtful discourse that would follow.
Over $45,000 was allocated for travel grants, a tangible commitment to global dialogue, ensuring that scholars from overseas could attend and contribute to the discussions.
In the spirit of scholarly and operational progress, CESS welcomed its newly elected Co-Presidents, Dina Sharipova and Artemy M. Kalinovsky, both bringing their robust experience and vision for the future of Central Eurasian studies. New board members Omar Sadr, Ketevan Gurchiani, and Olga Khan also joined the society, each with unique expertise and ambitions to further the society’s mission.
“CESS regularly organizes international conferences that involve scholars from all over the world,” says Sharipo, CESS’ new co-president. “It is a very important platform where people can collaborate, develop joint projects, network, and build capacity.”
Amid the conference’s intellectual fervor, two awards highlighted the outstanding contributions of individuals to the field. Rashid Gabdulhakov received the Public Outreach Award for his work on the “Plovism” website, celebrated for its role in popularizing Central Asian studies. The Edward Allworth Lifetime Service to the Profession Award was presented to Dr. Balihar Sanghera, in recognition of his lifetime of dedication and groundbreaking work in the region.
The University of Pittsburgh, along with the Center for Governance and Markets, played gracious hosts, providing both financial backing and intellectual support, a testament to the collaborative spirit that CESS embodies.
As the conference concluded, participants left with renewed connections and a sense of purpose, reflective of CESS’s enduring role in fostering an inclusive and comprehensive understanding of Central Eurasia’s complex tapestry.