Annual Newsletter of the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University
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English News  No.11 , December 2003
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A New Program Starts for the Rejuvenation of Slavic Area Studies

IEDA Osamu

A new five-year program entitled "Making a Discipline of Slavic Eurasian Studies: Meso-areas and Globalization" was launched this year under the initiative of the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University on a special scientific research fund granted by the Japanese Ministry of Education's 21st Century COE (Center of Excellence) Program Committee.
            More than ten years have passed since the socialist regime collapsed in the East European countries and the Soviet Union.  The 1990s were witness to the disintegration of the communist countries and to major transformations of the socialist systems.  Following these changes, however, the 21st century seems to be seeing, in contrast to the previous decade, ensuing integration pressure within and toward this area.  
            Although globalization is one of the most influential factors in the background of these integration processes, it is also true that each integration pressure on these post-communist regions is very unique: for example, EU enlargement from the west, Islamic revival from the south, and East Asian vital economic growth from the east.  Revival of a "strong" Russia led by Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, may work as one of the counter integration forces against these external pressures.  
            Slavic Eurasia, the space of the former communist countries, may be a Mega-area in this historical context, loosely combining several Meso-areas inside.  Meso-areas are shaping themselves under the agencies of external integration forces from their neighboring regions: for example, an emerging Central East European Meso-area under the integration forces of EU enlargement; a Central Eurasian Meso-area (mainly Central Asia and the Caucasus) under that of the Islamic revival as well as "new Silk Road" projects for transport corridors; and a Far-East & Siberian Meso-area under that of the East Asian vital economic growth.  We suppose that the Meso-area could be a notion definable by interrelationships between external and counter integration forces.  
            Since the 1980s the Slavic Research Center has been organizing annual international symposia in Sapporo, and from the mid-1990s onward carrying out comprehensive and interdisciplinary joint research projects regarding changes in the Slavic Eurasian world.  Through these academic activities, the institution is now not only the national center for Slavic Eurasian area studies in Japan, but also an internationally recognized research engine.
            On these bases the Slavic Research Center has started this research program in order to make contributions to rejuvenating and advancing international Slavic Eurasian area studies in accordance with the new historical environments of regional integrations, globalization, and re- and multi-identification of peoples.  Furthermore, we hope this project and its analytical concepts would suggest a new imaginative perspective to area studies in general which are in a blind alley.  
            Our program includes various kinds of research and graduate education projects, such as research projects of Meso-area studies; foreign visiting fellowships; doctoral candidate scholarships; and post-doctorate fellowships.  We announce these projects on our Web site  and invite applicants for these fellowships and scholarships, while at the same time distributing notices to major institutions throughout Japan and all over the world.
            We would like to involve you and your colleagues in this program and to create closer and deeper cooperation with overseas and domestic scholars.  In accordance with the Center's academic heritage created by our former and senior staff members, we are convinced that nation-wide and international cooperation is the only way to survive and develop our academic studies on Slavic Eurasia in the age of globalization.

IEDA Osamu         
Director of the SRC

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