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Central Europe & Russia Task Force
Travel grants awarded in 2004

The Central Europe & Russia Task Force awarded thirteen travel grants for summer 2004 and academic year 2004-2005.

Michael Galaty
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Millsaps College Galaty and colleagues spent a week in the valley of the Shala River of Albania, laying the groundwork for a large-scale, interdisciplinary research program to take place 2005-2008, designed to study ethnic identity, cultural contact, and conflict in Shala from ancient to modern times. The project will study the tribes of northern Albania, their ethnogenesis, and reactions through time to foreign colonizing powers: given changes in external conditions, how do such groups tend to react? Do they fight one another-"ethnic" conflict leading to so-called "balkanization"-or do they join together to resist conquest, forming extra-tribal "confederations"? It will also contribute to the development of a proposed Cross-Border Balkan Peace Park.

Chris Johnson and Margaret Rennerfeldt
Associate Professor and Instructor of Dance, Beloit College During summer 2004, Johnson and Rennerfeldt took Beloit students to an international youth dance festival in Moscow. The students presented a dance set to an American folk tune, and Rennderfeldt taught a Russian ensemble a modern dance she choreographed. She hopes to invite the ensemble, Vozrozdien, to visit Beloit. Another Russian choreographer, Natasha Shirokova, will visit Beloit in the fall of 2004. Johnson directed Beloit students in a dance she created, "Wreath of Memories," about the experience of children in the Holocaust. (She had done research for the dance with an earlier travel grant.) The dance received the Laureate Grand Prix (first place) in the competition, and Johnson received a special award for "examining universal human events in defense of peace."

Randall Law
Assistant Professor of History, Birmingham-Southern College Law spent almost a month and a half in Russia in the summer of 2004 gathering materials for a book examining state-sponsored educational experimentation during the first decade of the Soviet Union. It concentrates on two broad issues: the creation of distinctively Russian, but recognizably progressive varieties of educational reform in pre-revolutionary Russia; and the interaction of these native legacies of progressivism with Marxist theory and Bolshevik practice during the first years of Soviet rule. In Moscow Law visited the archives of the Russian Academy of Education and the State Archive of the Russian Federation. He also collected materials and photographs for courses on Russian and Soviet history, and make connections for a planned study-abroad program in Russia in summer 2005.

Sergei Markov
Assistant Professor of Biology, DePauw University In August 2004 Markov visited Moscow to meet administrators at Moscow State University to make arrangements for a student trip to MSU's biological field stations. He then went to Irkutsk State University and Lake Baikal in Siberia to study algae found only in the lake. This algaeis capable of producing large quantities of hydrogen fuel. A colleague in Listvyanka invited Markov to join the collaborative research on the algae.

Keena Martin
Instructor of Education, Centre College In January 2005, Martin will take a group of 20-25 students to Russia to explore the rich tradition of Russian culture and history through a three-week tour of three Russian cities, each of which has served Russia as a political, religious, and cultural capital: Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Vladimir. Students will gain first-hand knowledge of the places and people involved in the development of the capitals. In addition, they will compare the two cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg) with respect to architectural style, history, and culture. In summer 2004 Martin will visit those cities to meet potential lectures for the traveling seminar.

Mark Mazullo
Assistant Professor of Music, Macalester College In June 2004 Mazullo spent a week and a half in St. Petersburg to prepare for a new class on the music of Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich. He attended performances of Shostakovich's operas and receiving coaching on several works for piano and voice by the composer. He also visited several cultural sites in the city. Since his return Mazullo has become more involved in scholarship about Russian music. Ultimately Mazullo hopes to research, write about, and perform Shostakovich's cycle of 24 Preludes and Fugues for solo piano, composed in 1950-51.

Tinaz Pavri
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Spelman College Pavri was initially interested in the relationship between levels of socio-political corruption and foreign direct investment in the Czech Republic, but her plans changed after arriving in Prague, Czech Republic, in June 2004. She found that the more immediate question was the Czech Republic's "fit" into its new role as European Union member country. After talking to a variety of people, including small business owners (e.g. restaurant owners, shop keepers, etc), legislators, academics, students and journalists, she argues that the extant "corruption" culture is serving as resistance to the slew of new EU economic rules and regulations that the Czech Republic is being subjected to.

Patrick Polley
Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Beloit College In the summer of 2002 Polley participated in the Global Partners Russia faculty seminar and developed a course on Soviet Film under Stalin. To prepare for a new course on Stalinism, he visited the monuments of the Great Patriotic War in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and Volgograd in the summer of 2004. He was interested to see how this chapter of the Soviet past is remembered. At Volgograd, Polley (also an archeologist) visited battle sites and worked a couple of days with a remains recovery team. "These teams, mostly young Russians, search for the remains of Soviet soldiers who died in the battle of Stalingrad. Last year the teams found over 2000 sets of remains, this year the count exceeded 1200 by mid-July. We found three sets of rmains, about average I was told, each day we worked. Pulling the bones of those brave men out of the earth after 60 years was poignant, and gave deeper meaning to the other sites I visited."

Ilka Saal
Assistant Professor of English, University of Richmond In July 2004 Saal and Nuray Grove, a Richmond colleague, went to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to assist the faculty of Kyrgyz National University (KNU) with the development of a curriculum in American Studies. The field of American Studies is currently at a very elementary level in Central Asia, yet there is great interest in the subject in the region. Saal introduced the discipline and illustrated recent work by discussing plays and films. Her workshops were quite well received. They also selected two KNU faculty members as guest lecturers for the University of Richmond, and discussed with KNU officials the possibility of ongoing ties.

Walter Schoen
Associate Professor of Theatre, University of Richmond Schoen and W. Reed West, a colleague, went to Samara, Russia in June and July of 2004 to work with the Samara Academic Drama Theatre. Their initial plan was to direct Arthur Miller's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's play Enemy of the People. After discussion with a Russian colleague, however, they decided to direct Miller's Death of a Salesman instead. Due to the theatre's financial challenges the production has been postponed until summer 2005, but the two weeks of rehearsal were both productive and educational, as Schoen and West worked to make the language and issues of Miller's play understandable for the Russian actors. Schoen writes, "They all appreciate the play's greatness, but the language issues make them uncomfortable about finding the appropriate balance between the literary and emotional truth of this work. Much of the rehearsal work involved explaining the subtext of the piece and then discussing textual ways of making that understandable to a Russian audience. All through the process, a long forgotten Shakespeare Professors prophetic words - 'everything's translatable but the poetry and the meaning' - kept ringing in my ears. The result of this work suggests that the hiatus between staging rehearsals can be put to good use by actors, directors, and translators alike."

During the trip Schoen and West also lay groundwork for the Russian company's visit to produce a new Japanese play, The University of Laughter, in the United States in winter 2005.

Walter Stevenson
Associate Professor of Classics, University of Richmond Stevenson spent eight weeks in the summer of 2004 in Ukraine pursuing three goals: 1) He studied Ukrainian and brushed up on his Russian, which has helped with his research; 2) He investigated a possible cooperative summer programs for American and Ukrainian students in the Crimea; and 3) He collaborated with a Richmond alumnus, now in the Ukraine as a Fulbright student, and colleagues at the Ukranian Catholic University, to develop course management software (like Blackboard) in Cyrillic characters. At least fifteen courses are already using the software. Stevenson is collaborating with a colleague in L'viv on translating and editing a 12th century text, and looks forward to further work in Ukraine.

Safia Swimelar
Assistant Professor of Political science, University of the South Swimelar is pursuing a project on "International Actors and Minority Rights in Croatia and Bosnia." She spent June 2004 in Croatia and Bosnia interviewing a number of leaders involved in the creation and monitoring of minority rights. She gathered documents and made connections for further research. Swimelar also met with colleagues she hopes to invite to her campus.


updated 4/13/05

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