The First East Asian Conference for Slavic Eurasian Studies,
February 5-6, 2009

February 11, 2009, by Kimitaka Matsuzato  

On February 5-6, 2009, the three Slavicist associations of East Asia, the Chinese Association for East European, Russian, and Central Asian Studies (CAEERCAS), the Japanese Council for Russian and East European Studies (JCREES), and the Korean Association for Slavic Studies (KASS) held the First East Asian Conference for Slavic Eurasian Studies.

Nearly a year before, on February 22, 2008, representatives of these associations had a summit meeting at Seoul University to develop academic cooperation between the Slavicists of East Asia. We formulated our agreement as a Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed by the presidents of the three associations on May 7, 2008. Article 2 of the memorandum proposes to convene an East Asian conference for Slavic Eurasian studies annually. The JCREES was honored to be the first host organization of this event.

We have already realized some of the core ideas of this memorandum: the CAEERCAS was recognized as a full member of the ICCEES, the world Slavicist organization, and the KASS normalized its relations with the ICCEES. Asian Slavicists began to play a more deserving and adequate role in the world Slavicist community.

After the ICCEES Council meeting in Stockholm on June 28, 2008, the Korean and Japanese representatives had a talk to finalize the format and date of the first East Asian conference. The president of the CAEERCAS, Professor Li Jingjie, could not make it to Stockholm because of passport reasons, but the JCREES and KASS immediately coordinated the format with the CAEERCAS. We called for panel proposals and papers from September to November, 2008. Eventually, we received more than 90 proposals. Since the ICCEES advertised this event, we received a number of proposals from outside Asia: seven from Russia, one from Belarus, one from the United States, and two from Malaysia. Regrettably, we did not have a budget to aid these scholars to come to Sapporo, but eventually, six papers were presented by the participants from outside East Asia.

The world financial crisis damaged the participation from East Asia, but nevertheless, we have managed to organize 24 panels with 75 papers: 24 papers from Korea, 19 papers from Japan (among them 6 from foreign scholars staying in Japan), 16 papers from China, one from Taiwan, three from Russia, and one representative each from Mongolia, Malaysia and the US.

Hokkaido University generously aided the conference, and the Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas, “Comparative Research on Major Regional Powers in Eurasia,” played an important role in organizing panels.

Remarkably, 69 of the 75 papers (92%) were preliminary submitted and uploaded on the HP. When the AAASS and ICCEES are losing the decent tradition of preliminary paper distribution, the Asian correctness looks even more impressive. The discussions at the panels were very lively and demonstrated the high level of Slavicist studies in Asia. To promote publications of the papers, we invited a representative of a D.C. Journal, Demokratizatsiya, Professor Christopher Marsh of Baylor University, as an observer of this conference. He appreciated the contents of the conference and is working on the publication of a number of papers.

Last but not least, the experience and mutual acquaintance of Asian Slavicists during the preparation of the first East Asian conference helped overcome serious challenges to organizing panels at international academic conventions. In fact, an unprecedented number of Korean and Chinese colleagues have proposed panels and papers to the ICCEES world congress, which will be held in Stockholm on July 26-31, 2010


*The views expressed in the essay belong solely to the author and do not represent the official position of any organizations to which the author is permanently or was temporarily affiliated.


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