Prior to the formation of the Central Eurasian Studies Society, no such functioning society existed in North America. The idea to form a new society for the study of Central Eurasia emerged from discussions held at annual workshops first organized in 1996 by Dr. Uli Schamiloglu at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These discussions culminated at the the same workshops three years later, with the consensus that a scholarly organization was indeed needed and viable. A temporary executive committee was formed, with Dr. Marianne Kamp as its chair and Dr. John Schoeberlein as the executive secretary. In 2000, the committee proceeded with the formation of CESS.
Today, CESS is comprised of 500 members around the world, and hosts both an Annual Conference held in North America and a biennial Regional Conference held in the Central Eurasia region. The Society supports 6 annual awards, 2 journals, travel grants, workshops, and a collaborative blog.
2000 // At CESS’ 1st Annual Conference (University of Wisconsin-Madison), the process of establishing corporate articles and by-laws was begun, with legal and organizational guidance by Eric Sievers, followed by elections conducted at the end of 2000. An Executive Board of six members was elected, along with Dr. John Schoeberlein as President and Dr. Marianne Kamp as Past-President (having been the chair of the temporary executive committee).
2001 // CESS incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in, and in the same year was granted federal recognition as a tax-exempt charitable organization. The 2nd Annual Conference was held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
2002 // The Central Eurasian Studies Review [hyperlink] is first published, as the result of the CESS Publications Committee and Board Member Virginia Martin’s efforts. A formal Secretariat is established and is based at Harvard’s Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus, under the directorship of the program’s Director and CESS President, Dr. John Schoeberlein.
The 1st Award for the Best Graduate Student Paper is presented at the 3rd Annual Conference (University of Wisconsin-Madison).
2003 // A rotating program of conferences is enacted and the 4th Annual Conference is held at Harvard University.
2006 // CESS establishes the practice of rotating the Secretariat, which move’s from Harvard to Miami University of Ohio’s Havighurst Center.
2008 // The first of CESS’ Regional Conferences was held in Issyk Kol, Kyrgyzstan. Regional Conferences would be organized on a biannual basis with conferences to follow in 2010 (Ankara), 2012 (Tbilisi), 2014 (Astana), continuing to the present.
2011 // The Secretariat moved to Indiana University’s Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies.
2014 // The university-based Secretariat model is abandoned and CESS contracts its own part-time Administrative Coordinator.
The CESS Logo is based on petroglyph carved by Eurasian steppe nomads. This is enclosed in the shape of an archway, though it may also interpreted as the silhouette of a yurt. These elements are broadly representative of the diverse cultures and lifestyles found across the Central Eurasian region. The concept of the running horse came from the Nadia Hlibka’s winning entry in the CESS Logo Design Competition held in 2001.