Back
Tuesday | 23 September, 2008

Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) 2008 Conference

As last year, we again went to the annual conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS). This year, it was held at Georgetown University. CESS conference focuses on issues that pertain to Central Eurasia (from the Kurds to the Mongols). What makes this conference attractive, then, is its geographical focus, and that it brings scholars together from a broad array of disciplines: demographers, sociologists, political scientists, ethnographers, linguists, historians, as well as a scattering of other niche groups.

The Caucasus usually has a slightly tenuous position within this conception of Eurasia, perched almost out of sight. This year, because of current events, it had more prominence (although the grand hall seen in the image below was only used for the keynote address on Afghanistan, otherwise we were in fairly grotty underground rooms).



One paper by Reid Hamel, a Ph.D. student in Demography at UC Berkeley and our former Summer Fellow, was based on CRRC data. Separately, we presented results from various opinion surveys at a Georgia-focused roundtable (with Julie George, Stephen Jones, Svante Cornell). 

Striking, in many of the debates on ongoing issues, how, as one prominent Caucasus scholar put it, everyone is "so eager to confess others' sins". Indeed, one of the main impediments to scholarly debate was the repeated intrusion of standpoint statements ("what you said is an insult to all the victims..."), and the search for moral acclamation.

An urgent need, then, to move beyond the exchange of accusations, and for all sides to examine how they contributed to current events, and what they will need to do better. As Percy Cradock, a former British diplomat once put it: it's never the other side you have to worry about, it's your own. That change of approach would go some way towards the statesmanship that the Caucasus now needs: recognizing your own limitations and from such a precise understanding, forge new possibilities. Unrealistic ambitions can hold you hostage, sometimes more than an external power.

But in between, constructive debates, a variety of viewpoints, and a very rich list of topics. If you want to see who is working on what types of issues, take a look at the conference program. Kevin Tuite, Paul Crego, Julie George, Babken Babajanian and various other Caucasus scholars were present, and you may be interested in checking out what they are up to.
07.09.2015 | Monday

The public on the conflicts in the South Caucasus

On July 18, 2015 thousands of Georgians gathered in Tbilisi protesting Russia’s “creeping occupation” as South Ossetia based Russian troops continue to draw the border along the Administrative Border Line between Georgia and the occupied territory of  South Ossetia. The unresolved territorial conflicts over South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh are major sources of instability in the South Caucasus. 
12.09.2011 | Monday

Does Refusal to Recognize Elections in Abkhazia Reduce Prospects for Resolution?

A recent New York Times article argues that the failure of Western governments to recognize the latest presidential elections in Abkhazia on August 26, 2011 may hamper conflict resolution. According to the authors, Cooley and Mitchell, Western governments have a “counterproductive disdain” of developments in Abkhazia and isolating Sukhumi will reduce prospects for conflict resolution. 
27.08.2010 | Friday

Ask CRRC: what does the public actually know?

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center showing that 18% of Americans think that US President Barack Obama is Muslim, and that a further 43% respond that they don't know what religion the President practices, has raised discussions about the level of political knowledge in democracies. Indeed, Newsweek has published a slideshow showing dumb things that Americans believe.
10.10.2010 | Sunday

Survey of PhD Students in Georgia

We recently undertook a small online survey of PhD students at Georgia's two major universities. This comes at a time when significant programs and support are already available to Georgian PhD students: CSS is launching a new PhD program, ASCN is offering significant research opportunities, the US Embassy will launch a program with Ilia State University, and now there is CARTI as a further opportunity.
06.05.2008 | Tuesday

Diversity Polling on the Caucasus | Ask500

Sometimes it's worth clicking on those Gmail links. "Ask 500" is a website in beta, the web version of a straw poll. Polling? Surveys? Obviously I wanted to know more. To say it up front: it's about as unrepresentative as you can get, since it assembles those that suffer from terminal curiosity.
30.07.2008 | Wednesday

Cuil for the Caucasus? A quick test!

As many of you may have heard, this week saw the launch of a competitor to Google. Cuil, which apparently is an old Irish word for knowledge, has been set up by several former Googlists and promises a search that's more oriented on content, and says it can do a more comprehensive job in the ever-expanding worldwide web.
24.09.2008 | Wednesday

Baku's Urban Change | Commentary and Photography

Interested in urban development? Want to know how outsiders describe the urban experience of Baku? Two young researchers from Germany have set up a blog to follow their project in tracking changes in Baku. Oriana Kraemer and Sebastian Burger take photographs, attend lectures, and comment on what they observe. Given the inflow of sudden wealth, Baku witnesses comprehensive change. A great project, therefore.
13.11.2008 | Thursday

World Economic Forum Gender Gap Index | a few surprises

Indices are engaging and instructive, but some really baffle us. The World Economic Forum (WEF), the organisation that organises the annual high-profile Davos meetings, has come up with a gender index, and the Caucasus is featured. The index is intended to measure how the world is closing the gender gap in education, health, and political and economic participation. In principle, this is a great idea, since there are significant challenges and discrepancies (as our data itself shows).
30.10.2017 | Monday

Georgian public increasingly unaware of what the European Union Monitoring Mission does

As much as 81% of the population of Georgia doesn’t know what the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) does, according to the 2017 Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia survey funded by Europe Foundation and implemented by CRRC-Georgia. This lack of knowledge has increased over time, as has the prevalence of incorrect information about the EUMM’s mission. This represents a missed opportunity for the EU’s communications in Georgia.