2022 Annual Conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society at Indiana University

The 2022 annual CESS conference was held in Bloomington, IN. from October 20th to 23rd at the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC) at Indiana University

“The Central Eurasian Studies Society [CESS] conference at Bloomington, Indiana, allowed me to meet new people and discover future research opportunities,” said Maral Sagynalieva, a Ph.D. student at the National Academy of Sciences in the Kyrgyz Republic, who presented a paper on sustainable development of mountainous countries.

The 2022 annual CESS conference was held in Bloomington, IN. from October 20th to 23rd at the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC) at Indiana University. Associate director Kasia Rydel-Johnston served as the institutional host for the CESS conference. Marianne Kamp, Associate Professor of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, organized the conference. The Mongolia Society [MonSoc] meeting was held jointly with CESS.

“Scholars from Central Eurasia, East Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America came together — people with very different perspectives about their disciplines, how to conduct research — and exchanged ideas at CESS,” says former CESS President Morgan Liu. 

Liu, who is currently the Chair of Near East and South Asian languages and literature at Ohio State University, started attending CESS Conferences as a graduate student in the 1990s when the organization was founded. He explains that Central Eurasia is “more than just a part of the map. It’s about interconnection: being connected culturally and economically. There’s no other place like it in the world because of all these connections across the entire Eurasian continent.”

Researchers who attended the conference described the experience as productive and exhilarating. Aikanysh Eshnazarova, a first-time attendee, said she was “honored.” Volunteer moderator Lindsay Grutchfield said it was a great “opportunity to connect with professionals across the field,” and Oguljamal Yazliyeva, who is at Charles University, Prague, was grateful to be able to explore “issues that are not always openly discussed.”

Members inaugurated CESS’ new president Dr. Jeff Sahadeo, Professor of Russian and Eurasian History at Carleton University. “What I want to do this year is to make sure that members know it’s their society.”

This year’s book awards went to Omar Sadr for his 2021 Negotiating Cultural Diversity in Afghanistan. Routledge (2022 – Social Sciences) and Sören Urbanski for his 2020 Beyond the Steppe Frontier. Princeton University Press (2022 – History & the Humanities).

The conference was fully hybrid, with over 250 delegates in attendance (and 70 participating virtually), plus about 40 Mongolia Society meeting attendees. The final schedule had 62 panels, five networking sessions, three pre-conference workshops, a keynote address, a members’ meeting, and social and cultural events. 

MonSoc arranged a tour of the local Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist Center, the showing of a new documentary film set in Mongolia, and a Mongolian art exhibit in the Cook Center. At a featured banquet, CESS organized film showings and a concert of a local musical group, the Silk Road Ensemble.

“It’s a real privilege given how far away Central Eurasia is and how little people know about it to get together in a space where tons of people are experts,” commented Gardner Bovingdon, Associate Professor in Central Eurasian Studies and International Studies at Indiana University.