The Caucasus and Central Asia in Conversation: The Importance of Stories and Archives from the Soviet and Post-Soviet Periphery

The Second Annual Ralph T. Fisher Workshop at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

June 15-16, 2018

Co-Conveners: Eva Rogaar (UIUC) and Ben Bamberger (UIUC)

The Caucasus and Central Asia have often been understood through the lens of the Russian center, in terms of the categories that emerged from Moscow and St. Petersburg, and through the centralized archives and libraries that many scholars have used to study these regions. This workshop explores what can be gained—conceptually and methodologically—by centering the archives and stories from these regions. How can we transcend a history of the Caucasus and Central Asia that has defined these regions primarily in terms of their relationship with the Russian center? How do we create such histories without overemphasizing the centrality of the nation as a category of analysis? How can we write transnational and local histories that go beyond both the nation and the binary of center and periphery?

Key to these questions is the role of sources and methodology. What constitutes a peripheral archive and how does an insistence on such archives and stories upend or complicate our understandings of the Caucasus and Central Asia as regions? What peripheral stories can be found in central archives and spaces? What are the challenges involved in finding and using such stories?

For this second annual Fisher Workshop, we welcome contributions from scholars that address these larger questions within their own research to engage in discussion and work-shopping of pre-circulated papers over 2 days. Contributions are not limited thematically, but should relate to the Soviet or post-Soviet Caucasus and Central Asia. Please send a 300-500 word abstract on your paper topic and a short CV by March 1st, 2018 to

All applicants who are also interested in the University of Illinois’ Summer Research Lab ( are strongly encouraged to also apply to the SRL, as SRL participants are eligible to apply for travel, housing, and stipend funding, which can be used to attend the workshop and support research in the world famous Slavic, East European and Eurasian collections ( at the University Library. We will also have limited funds available to defray the costs for other participants. Please note in your application if you would like to apply for travel and/or housing funding.