March 2014 Events

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"Babel: How it was Done in Odessa"

Andrei Malaev-Babel


When: Sunday, March 2, 2:00pm

Where: Lathrop Hall, H’Doubler Performance Space, 1050 University Avenue

Sponsors: Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, the Anonymous Fund, the Center for Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature, the Russian Flagship Program, the Studio Creative Arts and Design Community of Sellery Residence Hall


About the Performace: Babel: How It Was Done in Odessa celebrates the vibrant, colorful life of Odessa and its citizens; it teems with characters of all ages, races and nationalities, just as the city was before the Russian Revolution. At the heart of the production is the character of Benya Krik, a larger than life gangster with a sense of humor, justice and honor, almost an Odessan Robin Hood.  Other infamous figures in the Jewish quarter, such as Froim Grach and Kolya Shvarts, add to the richness and variety of the production’s texture.


This production celebrates not only Isaak Emmanuilovich Babel’s writings but also his life, lived at times so carelessly, perhaps even recklessly, and ended so suddenly and anonymously.  Little tangible has remained of either his life or his writings: all the more reason to celebrate on stage the diverse and unique creative wealth of this Russian-Jewish writer, recognized by the New York Times as “…a literary genius framed by twentieth century tragedy.”


About the Artist: Andrei Malaev-Babel is an Associate Professor of Theatre and the Head of Acting at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training in Sarasota, Florida – one of the US’ top-ten graduate theatre programs. He is also a principle teacher of directing and acting at The New College of Florida. Mr. Malaev-Babel has served on the faculty of The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He is a member of the international faculty and on the board of MICHA, the Michael Chekhov Association in New York City. Since 1997, Mr. Malaev-Babel has served as the Producing Artistic Director for the Stanislavsky Theater Studio (STS), an award-winning company and conservatory in Washington, DC. For STS, he co-adapted, directed and/or played leading roles in productions such as Goethe’s Faust, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Chekhov’s The Seagull, Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor, Brian Friel’s Fathers and Sons, Moliere’s Le Malade Imaginaire, Gogol’s Dead Souls and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. In 2000 he was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award as an Outstanding Director for the STS production of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. Under Mr. Malaev-Babel’s artistic direction, the company received five Helen Hayes Award nominations and won two consecutive Helen Hayes Awards. His productions were presented at The Kennedy Center and The National Theater in Washington, DC, where he also appeared as a performer.


For additional information about the performance or the artist, click here.

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"Democracy, Inequality and Foreign Investment in Eastern Europe: Does the EU Matter?"

Nina Bandelj, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Irvine


When: Thursday, March 6, 4:00pm

Where: 206 Ingraham Hall

Sponsors: The Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), the European Union Center of Excellence (EUCE), the Department of Sociology


About the Speaker: Nina Bandelj is associate professor of sociology, Co-Director of Center for Organizational Research, and Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy, at the University of California, Irvine. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University and was awarded the Lipset Prize for Best Dissertation from the Society for Comparative Research. She held fellowships at the European University Institute and Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies. Bandelj's research examines the social and cultural bases of economic phenomena, determinants and consequences of globalization, and social change in postsocialist Europe. Her articles have been published in the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Europe-Asia Studies, East European Politics and Society, and Socio-Economic Review, among others. Her books include From Communists to Foreign Capitalists: The Social Foundations of Foreign Direct Investment in Postsocialist Europe (Princeton University Press, 2008); and most recently Socialism Vanquished, Socialism Challenged: Eastern Europe and China, 1989-2009 (2012 Oxford University Press, with Dorothy Solinger). She currently serves as editor of Socio-Economic Review, on Executive Council of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, and as Chair of Economic Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.


About the Lecture: Upon the collapse of communist regimes, Central and East European countries avidly aspired to European Union membership, as “a return to Europe” would help liberate them from the weight of the Iron Curtain that was stalling progress. The postsocialist transformations have been so intimately linked with Europeanization of this region that it seemed obvious that EU membership would carry significant weight, and act as a positive influence. This paper problematizes the assumption of Europeanization as a remedy for “backwardness,” and tries to answer a few concrete empirical questions about the early and later impacts of EU accession and membership on Central and East European countries. It takes stock of how some developments related to initial democratization, economic liberalization and social inequality in postsocialist Europe may have been impacted by the impending EU membership, and how EU membership may have impacted more recent economic and social outcomes. I present findings on the influence of EU accession on early democratization, influx of foreign direct investment, and income inequality, as well as preliminary results on the impact of EU membership for longer-term socio-economic organization in the region.

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Roundtable: "Ukraine: Crimea, Russian Military Intervention, and Options for International Responses"


When: Monday, March 10, 4:00pm

Where: On Wisconsin Room, Red Gym, 716 Langdon Street, Madison, WI


About the Roundtable: This special roundtable brings together faculty from Political Science, Sociology, and History to discuss the current situation in Ukraine including the history of Russian-Ukrainian relations in the region, the protests leading up to the fall of the Yanukovich government, the recent military intervention by Russia, and the options for a US, European, or international response to the crisis.




Scott Gehlbach, Political Science

Theodore Gerber, Sociology

Andrew Kydd, Political Science

David McDonald, History

Moderator: Yoshiko Herrera, Political Science


This event will be filmed and recorded by Wisconsin Public Television.

Check back here, or on their website, for the recording in case you can't make this event!

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Foreign Policy Career Talk

Christopher Kolenda, Senior Advisor, Department of Defense


When: Wednesday, March 12, 4:30pm

Where: Northwoods B, Union South (3rd Floor)

Sponsors: The Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), the Department of History, the Department of Political Science, and the Center for South Asia (CSA)


Students interested in a career in foreign affairs, please join UW-Madison alumnus Christopher Kolenda, Senior Advisor, Department of Defense for a talk on careers in foreign policy!


Open to students from any discipline, department or area studies program.


About the Speaker: Christopher Kolenda (UW-Madison, M.A. Modern European History, 1996) has served four tours in Afghanistan -- one as a Battalion Task Force Commander in Kunar and Nuristan, and others as Senior Advisor to three U.S. and Coalition 4-star Commanders. He led the team that produced the McChrystal assessment, and has been instrumental in reforming U.S. and coalition strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Between tours he has been the Senior Advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan to two Under Secretaries of Defense. He is the editor and co-author of "Leadership: The Warrior's Art" (which has been on the professional reading lists of all military services) and the author of "The Counterinsurgency Challenge: A Parable of Leadership and Decision-making in Modern Conflict."

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"From Reset to Regret: The Rocky Road of US-Russian Relations"

Kjell E. Engelbrekt, Swedish National Defense College & Fellow at Chicago Council on Global Affairs


When: Wednesday, March 12, 5:30pm

Where: University Club, 803 State Street, Madison WI

Sponsor: Madison Committee on Foreign Relations



Registration required | Questions: David Knuti 608-234-7430

• Individual & Family Membership - Free

• DPI Educator - $10.00 (USD)

• Guest - $20.00 (USD)

• Student Guest - $10.00 (USD)

• UW Division of International Studies Membership - Free


About the Lecture: In the midst of the current Ukraine crisis there is no doubt about what has gone wrong with US-Russian relations, but how do we come back from the brink? In 2009, the US-Russian diplomatic dialogue was officially ‘reset’ by President Obama and his Russian counterpart Medvedev. They even pressed a symbolic ‘reset’ button at a press conference in Moscow. Fast forward to 2014, and rapprochement has stopped in its track. Even before the current crisis in the Crimea, Moscow has thwarted US attempts to bring stability to the Middle East, fended off EU measures to create a more prosperous and self-confident Ukraine, and provided a safe haven to NSA defector Edward Snowden. Dr. Kjell E. Engelbrekt will explore US-Russian relations and Russian efforts to constrain Western political, economic and cultural influence.


About the Speaker: Kjell E. Engelbrekt is currently a visiting fellow at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He holds a PhD in political science from Stockholm University. He is associate professor at the Swedish National Defense College and member of the Swedish Royal Academy of War Sciences. He has served as a research fellow at Columbia University (New York), Humboldt-Universität (Berlin), and the European University Institute (Florence). In addition to his academic record, Engelbrekt has served as secretary-general of the Swedish North Atlantic Treaty Association, research analyst at the RFE/RL Research Institute, and consulted for the UN Development Program and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

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"Evolution of U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan: Shaping Prospects for Afghanistan's Future"

Christopher D. Kolenda, Senior Advisor, Department of Defense


When: Thursday, March 13, 4:00pm

Where: 206 Ingraham Hall

Sponsors: The Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), the Deptartment of History, the Department of Political Science, the Center for South Asia (CSA)


About the Speaker: Christopher Kolenda (UW-Madison alumnus, M.A. Modern European History, 1996) has served four tours in Afghanistan -- one as a Battalion Task Force Commander in Kunar and Nuristan, and others as Senior Advisor to three U.S. and Coalition 4-star Commanders. He led the team that produced the McChrystal assessment, and has been instrumental in reforming U.S. and coalition strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Between tours he has been the Senior Advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan to two Under Secretaries of Defense. He is the editor and co-author of Leadership: The Warrior's Art (which has been on the professional reading lists of all military services) and the author of The Counterinsurgency Challenge: A Parable of Leadership and Decision-making in Modern Conflict.


About the Lecture: Having just returned from Afghanistan as Senior Advisor to the Commander of U.S. and Coalition forces, Christopher Kolenda will outline how the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has evolved since 2001, assess its outcomes, and discuss strategic risks and opportunities as U.S., Afghan and regional actors look toward 2014 and beyond.


As U.S. and coalition forces continue their draw-down and re-posturing toward training and advising the Afghan National Security Forces, the bi-lateral security agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan still hangs in the balance. The Presidential elections are scheduled for April 2014, which, if successful, will result in the first peaceful transfer of power in Afghan history. Meanwhile, the Taliban and other insurgent groups remain resilient, and Afghan-Pakistan relations are fraught with tension and mistrust. Efforts toward a peace process have stalled. Regional actors continue hedging behaviors due to strategic uncertainty after 2014.


Nonetheless, all of the ingredients are present for a successful outcome in Afghanistan. Efforts to train and advise the Afghan National Security forces, combined with a successful political transition and improved Afghan-Pakistan and regional relations, can establish a solid foundation upon which a political solution to the conflict becomes possible. The U.S. ability to manage risk and exploit opportunities will make a critical difference between success and failure.

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A. W. Mellon Interdisciplinary Workshop

“The Criminal Responsibility of the Hitlerites: Aron Trainin and the Invention of Soviet International Law"

Fran Hirsch, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison


When: Friday, March 14, 2:00pm

Where: University Club, Room 212, 432 East Campus Mall

Sponsors: The Center for the Humanities with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


What is guilt? Join us as we assess, discuss, and dismantle our contemporary understanding of guilt as an interdisciplinary concept at work in the world


For more information about this event, click here.





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No CREECA Lecture

Spring Recess


When: March 15-23

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Screening: A Place to Stand (2013)

Anna Ferens, Renowned Polish Filmmaker


When: Tuesday, March 25, 7:00pm

Where: Marquee Theater, Union South

Sponsors: Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago, the Polish Heritage Club of Wisconsin-Madison, the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA)


About the Director: Director, writer and producer of documentaries and short features. Anna Ferens holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism and Political Science from Warsaw University. She also studied Serbo-Croatian at the Warsaw University and Advertising for Business at the French Institute of Government in Warsaw.


About the Film: This documentary examines the fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe 25 since the groundbreaking events in Poland that led to the integration of the divided Europe. The film also examines the role of the European Parliament in the process of political transformation of Europe during the years 1980-1990. Based on unpublished archival materials and interviews with members of the European Parliament, the film also features extensive interviews with a number of democracy activists throughout the Eastern Block. Anna Ferens’ film also highlights over fifty resolutions passed by the European Parliament during the seminal decade that began with the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland in 1980. “A Place to Stand” comes to Wisconsin for its U.S. premiere to mark 25 years since the first partially-free elections in Poland on June 4, 1989 started the domino effect for many European nations, eventually leading to the integration of the divided Europe that changed the lives of millions of Europeans forever.


Running Time: 58 minutes


Q&A session and with the film-maker will follow the screening.


Dine at Steenbock's with Director Anna Ferens

By reservation only. RSVP by Friday, March 21st.

email: phone: (608) 233-3828 or (608) 831-8827

1330 N. Orchard St, Madison, WI

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"Diagramming the Nation: Socioeconomic Class Differences on Language in Two Secondary Schools"

Elizabeth Peacock, Assistant Professor of Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse


When: Thursday, March 27, 4:00pm

Where: 206 Ingraham Hall

Sponsors: The Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), The Deptartment of Anthropolgy, The Department of Slavic Languages and Literature


About the Speaker: Elizabeth Peacock is Assistant Professor of cultural and linguistic anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Archaeology at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse. She received her B.A. from the University of Kansas (2000), and M.A. (2003) and Ph.D. (2011) from the University of California-San Diego. Her research examines issues of community and belonging as they relate to young people, sociolinguistics, and global migration. She is currently working on articles dealing with morality and Odessa’s Living Dolls,  and prescriptive speech on bus posters. Her future projects include a comparison of youth in L’viv, Ukraine and in the Ukrainian-American community in Chicago, and the use of digital forms of communication by Ukrainian migrants. She will continue her longitudinal study, “Emerging from the 2nd World: Class, Language, and Migration among the First Generation of Postsocialism,” this summer with the support of an IREX Individual Advanced Research grant.


About the Lecture: At the legislative level, Ukraine is rife with ambiguities over the status of the Russian language and whether Russians are a valid ethnic minority in need of protection. In western regions of the country, however, the primacy of the Ukrainian language is taken as a given. In this paper, I show that notions of speaking Ukrainian are central to claims of authentic Ukrainian identity, but that socioeconomic class, personal experience, and classroom practices highlight the ambiguities underlying this often cited “fact” of western Ukrainian identity. Furthermore, young people’s understandings of what counts as legitimate speech are linked to different perspectives of the Ukrainian immigrant experience in Europe, and suggest vastly different ideas about Ukrainians’ position vis-à-vis Europe. I draw upon ethnographic and linguistic data collected over 16 months, specifically that from Ukrainian language lessons and interviews with students ages 13-15 years old at two public schools in L’viv.

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Wisconsin Chamber Choir Spring Concert

Sacred and Secular Music from Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia


When: Saturday, March 29, 7:30pm

Where: Grace Episcopal Church, Madison's Capitol Square

Tickets: $15 Adults | $10 Students


The Wisconsin Chamber Choir is delighted to share the incredibly beautiful sacred selections by the Russian composers of the Moscow Conservatory: Rachmaninoff, Grechaninov, and the choral master, Chesnokov. We will feature the talents of our low basses who will have the opportunity to shine in these arrangements expanding the range of the choir into the depths of low D's, C's, and even A#'s (the one with three lines below the bass clef)!


Arrangements of Our Father (Pater Noster) and from various other 20th century composers will round out the second half of the concert - Yekmalian, Miškinis, and Vasks. For lighter fare, the choir will explore a rhythmic Drum Song by Matchavariani, and a set by Armenian composer Veljo Tormis with a song about laundry, spinning, and spreading manure. Just for fun, we will end the evening with a King's Singers arrangement of Lennon and McCartney's "Back in the USSR."

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