The Monterey Initiative in Russian Studies (MIRS) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey invites applications for the Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia 2024.
The Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia 2024 will be held in Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey, from July 2 to July 20, 2024. These countries are experiencing radical, and quite different geopolitical challenges, with one constant variable in place – their shared history with the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation. Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey stand at a crossroads of international affairs as a Petri dish of competition and conflict between Iran, the United States, China, and Russia.
At a time when direct contact between Russia and the West is limited, there is a greater need for more interactions and dialogue among experts from the South Caucasus, Turkey, the United States, Europe, and Russia. The Monterey Symposium will offer unique optics through which to view the course of Russia’s relations with its neighbors, its foreign policy, and the place of Russia in the world. This perspective will be informed by expert analyses of the interplay of key regional actors. While Russia’s influence (present-day and historical) in the region is impossible to ignore, it must be also recognized that regional actors in the South Caucasus, and Turkey, have influence on Russia, and they often find ways of breaking away from or qualifying Russian influence. Careful consideration of these dynamics is helpful for an understanding of the extent and nature of Russian power. Another pivotal reality is the way in which Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey have become key destinations for the Russian diaspora following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. An effort will be made to provide the Monterey Symposium fellows with tools and occasions to conduct sociological field research on the evolving presence of Russian diasporas and their roles and status in Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey. At this important moment, when the international security structure is being transformed, the South Caucasus is a key region where great and small powers alike are effecting significant change, yet this region is largely unknown in the West.
In the Monterey Symposium, twelve selected fellows will learn about imperial geopolitics in Eurasia and the world. They will analyze the war in Ukraine in comparative historical context, examining the end of the Soviet empire and its on-going consequences. They will probe the history of the Russian empire and the Soviet Union as multinational, multi-ethnic, multi-confessional states. They will delve into the North and South Caucasus in the Soviet and post-Soviet cultural space, exploring their geopolitics. They will look carefully at the roles played by Russia, Iran, Turkey, the United States, and China in the region, including in the Black Sea region; they will assess the impact of the precedent of Nagorno-Karabakh on the traumatized relations between Armenia and its Turkic neighbors, and the shifting direction of current Armenian alliances. The Monterey Symposium will provide students of Russian history, culture, and politics a unique opportunity to get out of the classroom and off social media, and to engage colleagues and locals in real time on the major issues of the day. The Monterey Symposium participants will be led through the major historical sites of the three countries and will learn about culture, education, monastic traditions, religious practices, and worship from the leading historians of culture and art. This experience and close acquaintance with the region will give the Monterey Symposium fellows not just a host of new ideas, but ideally a new angle of vision as well.
A complete application consists of a cover sheet, a Curriculum Vitae, a statement of purpose, an abstract of current research, details of Russian language proficiency, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. Applicants must have advanced Russian language skills. Applications will be accepted until February 1, 2024.
For more information and to access the application, please click here.