2021 ARISC Spring Lecture Series

The 2021 ARISC Spring Lecture Series showcases the work of early-career postdoctoral scholars. This year’s series includes specialists from the disciplines of ethnography, soil science, and history. The lectures are free and open to students and scholars of the region along with ARISC donors, those interested in the cultures of the South Caucasus, and the general public.

April 16, 2021 at 11am EDT

Borderization from the Frontlines: Uncertainty and Abandonment in the Space Between War and Peace

Dr. Ariel Otruba, Sociology and Anthropology Department, Moravian College

The August 2008 Russo-Georgian war represents the first time the Ossetian and Abkhazian administrative boundaries were experienced as international borders. The unilateral demarcation of these territories by Russian forces, a process euphemistically called “borderization,” led to restricted freedom of movement, compromised livelihoods, demographic declines, widespread trauma, barriers to important social practices, and a growing mistrust for borderland communities. Multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork also shows how feelings of abandonment are among the chief complaints reported by villagers living on the frontlines of borderization. This presentation considers the precarious conditions of “conflict-affected” communities, who are trapped between opposing security regimes in a space defined by the ambiguity between war and peace, past and future, hope and desolation. Emphasizing the emotional and material conditions of protracted uncertainty exposes the forces of social dislocation and how the future has become one of the major casualties of the conflict.

April 20, 2021 at 12pm EDT

Infrared Spectroscopy, a Tool for Rapid Land Degradation Assessment

Dr. Scott Demyan, School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University

Soil health and preventing and reversing soil degradation are not only important for food security, but also to ensure that important soil ecosystem services such as carbon storage and water quality are maintained. Management of soil resources requires high quality soils data. This talk broadly will examine the use and potential of infrared spectroscopy for rapid assessment of soil properties and soil health and to test the applicability of visible- near-infrared spectroscopy in complimenting traditional lab measurements for the rapid assessment of soil degradation. A case study from Armenia across contrasting agroecological zones from semi-desert to high-mountain grasslands will be presented.

April 28, 2021 at 12pm EDT

Colonial Governance, Educational Reform, and the Architecture of Identity Among Nineteenth-Century Azerbaijani Muslims

Dr. Aimee Dobbs, The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus

Colonial governance, educational reform, and identity politics shared center stage in post-Crimean War-era South Caucasus. The region’s remarkably intertwined ethnicities, as well as its geopolitical position, obliged Russian state administrators to consider novel approaches to systems’ modernization, particularly regarding the development of comprehensive schooling. Linguistic and cultural considerations, geopolitics, and resource insufficiencies generated opportunities and institutions for South Caucasians, including Azerbaijani Muslims, to partake in educational reform. This presentation examines the Azerbaijani Muslim experience and the discursive spaces surrounding educational reform, its implementation, and the newly emerging political rationalities and identity politics that materialized mainly in urban centers in the late nineteenth century.

All talks are free and open to the public.

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran.