Caucasus Connections (2014)

Indiana University, Bloomington
April 4-5, 2014

Conference Sponsored by
The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC)
The Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington

The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus in cooperation with the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington announced an interdisciplinary conference focused on the institutions, languages, cultures and histories that connect (as well as divide) the various places and peoples of the South Caucasus.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Harsha Ram (University of California, Berkeley)
Featured Speakers: Dr. Ed Lazzerini (Indiana University), Dr. Christina Maranci (Tufts University), and Dr. Kevin Tuite (University of Montreal)

With scholarly contributions that span the humanities and social sciences, as well as pedagogy and innovative teaching (online or otherwise) the conference addressed the ties that bind the Caucasus (and the Caucasus to the outside world) in relation to a series of related themes, including:

  • “The Imagined Caucasus” explored the role of both internal and external representations in shaping the region.  Papers explored images of the South Caucasus in literature, history, art, film and other media from the ancient past to the present.
  • “Caucasus and Circulation” investigated the movement of people and goods across the Caucasian landscape.   Papers addressed the infrastructure and dynamics of movement from the Silk Road through modern pipelines.
  • “Cultural Connections” examined the myriad everyday practices that provide the basis for recognition across even the most contested borders: the music, dances, foodways, and material culture that give rise to a sense of the South Caucasus as a shared world.
  • “Crossroads and Peripheries” studied the South Caucasus region in relation to its near neighbors and distant diasporas.

Organizers: ARISC Directors Edward Lazzerini (Indiana University) and Mary Neuburger (University of Texas, Austin)


Friday, April 4, 2014


Opening Remarks

David Zaret, Vice-President for International Programs, IU

Session One — Caucasus and Circulation

Featured Speaker
Kevin Tuite, University of Montreal
“Is ‘Caucasus’ singular or plural?”


Jeff Sahadeo, Carleton University
“(Un)welcome Guests: Caucasus Traders in late Soviet Leningrad and Moscow”

Houri Berberian, California State University, Long Beach
“’The Caucasus is in the Hands of Revolutionaries’: Circulation, Connections, and Caucasian Armenians”

Coffee Break

Claire Kaiser, University of Pennsylvania
“Fereydan, Saingilo, and the Local Construction of Cross-Border Nationality”

Aimee Dobbs, Indiana University, Bloomington
“The Move South: The Emergence of Baku as a Socio-Cultural and Educational Center for Late-Nineteenth-Early Twentieth Century Azerbaijani Intelligentsia”


Discussion following session on Caucasus and Circulation

Coffee Break

Session Two – Crossroads and Peripheries

Featured Speaker
Christina Maranci, Tufts University
“Armenian Art in the Seventh Century and the Problem of ’Periphery’”

Christina Maranci’s presentation, “Armenian Art in the Seventh Century and the Problem of ’Periphery’”


Shamkhal Abilov, Qafqaz University
“Baku: From Cosmopolitan City to National Capital of Azerbaijan”
Due to technical difficulties, this presentation is not available.

Shalala Mammadova, Baku State University
“Offences of the National Memory: Political Orientation and Ethnic Identity in the Soviet Azerbaijan”

Diana Ter-Ghazaryan, University of Miami
“Spaces of Diaspora Investment: Urban Transformations and Transnational Linkages in the Landscape of Yerevan”


Discussion on Crossroads and Peripheries session

Lunch break (on own)

Session Three – Cultural Connections

Alyssa Mathias, University of California, Los Angeles
“’Light Your Fire!’: Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Eurovision Song Contest”

Yulia Antonyan, Yerevan State University
“Contesting the Religious Landscape: Social and Cultural Background of Discourses on ‘Georgianization’ of the Armenian Churches in Tbilisi”

Coffee Break

Jeremy Johnson, University of Michigan
“Mountains of Letters: Tracing Literacy Across the Early Soviet South Caucasus”

Isabelle Kaplan, Georgetown University
“The Dekady of the Art of Caucasian Republics, 1937-1944”

Isabelle Kaplan’s presentation, “The Dekady of the Art of Caucasian Republics, 1937-1944”


Keynote Address

Harsha Ram, University of California, Berkeley
“The Literary Origins of the Georgian Feast: The Cosmopolitan Poetics of a National Tradition”

Keynote address by Harsha Ram

Tudor Room, IMU First Floor

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Panel Discussion

Featured Speaker
Edward Lazzerini, Indiana University, Bloomington
“Snoopy and the Mulla”

Monica Steinberg, City University of New York
“Incongruent Strategies: Engagements with Humor and Identity in Contemporary Azerbaijani Art”

Jakub Osiecki, Pontifical University of John Paul II
“’Franks’ Armenian Catholics in Armenia and Georgia in 20th Century. Preliminary Results of Historical and Oral History Studies”

Jo Laycock, Sheffield Hallam University
“Displacing, Circulating and Resettling Armenians: Transcaucasia and Transnational Relief and Resettlement in the Inter-War Period”

Harutyun Marutyan, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, NAS, Armenia
“Armenians and Jews: Neighbors in Memory”

Questions / Discussions

Panel discussion following presentations

Closing Remarks

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, or status as a covered veteran.

This conference is free and open to the public, and is supported with a grant from the US Department of Education and is co-sponsored by the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.


 “Scholars coming to IU Bloomington for conference about the Caucasus region”

“Caucasus Connections Conference to be held in U.S. Indiana University”