Workshops & Lab Programs


The Virtual Summer Research Lab (VSRL) provides scholars access to the resources of the University of Illinois Library, the largest Slavic collection west of Washington, DC, and an opportunity for individual consultation with the Slavic Reference Service (SRS). In cooperation with our colleagues at the SRS, we have been able to organize remote research support in the coming months through the VSRL. This support will include both enhanced virtual bibliographical assistance and collection services to be provided by SRS, and also virtual workshops and social activities hosted by REEEC (see below). All events will be hosted on Zoom; please contact REEEC at for meeting information. 

2021 Virtual Summer Research Laboratory Orientation Guide

2021 VSRL Events Calendar

Featured VSRL Virtual Workshops

Frozen Conflicts in Eurasia: Origins, Status and Outlook 

Co-moderators: Ralph Clem (Florida International University), Erik Herron (West Virginia University), and Cynthia Buckley (University of Illinois)

Ethno-territorial tensions, socio-economic disparities, and geopolitical dynamics in various world regions have led to localized armed rebellions and, in some cases, to the establishment of de facto secessionist states. The international community generally does not recognize these breakaway entities because the would-be state has seceded from a recognized state that does not accept this loss of territory, hence the uncertain status implied by the term. Regardless, as “frozen conflicts” they often play an outsized role in geopolitical matters well beyond a given localized conflict, as evidenced by Turkish Northern Cyprus, the evolving new states of the former Yugoslavia, or Iraqi Kurdistan. In this workshop, we explore the origins of Eurasian de facto statehood, seeking commonalities and exploring differences. We adduce the background political geography literature as well as case study details, with a view especially to illustrating how sources of data from national and de-facto governments, non-governmental organizations, and public opinion surveys help shed light on the individual situations. We also investigate the term "frozen conflict" to assess how effectively it describes the circumstances on the ground in our cases. We then situate the cases in the conceptual framework of state capacity--the ability their governments to provide basic social welfare needs of their often diverse populations—to assess their long-term viability. Finally, we consider the impact of these conflicts, several of which involve ongoing hostilities, on the parent states and the Russian Federation, which has been the principal patron state actor in this destabilizing geopolitical dynamic.

This workshop is made possible by funding from the Department of State’s Program for the Study of Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII).

Climate and Society in Eurasia: Past, Present, and Future

Co-moderators: Andy Bruno (Northern Illinois University) and Pey-Yi Chu (Pomona College)

This workshop aims to foster multifaceted and interdisciplinary approaches to understanding concerns related to climate in Russia, East Europe, and Eurasia. We will discuss the interactions of climate and society historically and today, as well as what they mean for the future. Participants will investigate the implications of rapidly advancing climate change as well as historic climate fluctuations, disruptions, and perceptions for migration, disaster preparedness, water and food security, environmental justice, sustainability, development, species and habitat degradation, biodiversity loss, and other issues. We welcome proposals from scholars in various disciplines, including (but not limited to) history, anthropology, literary and cultural studies, geography, sociology, environmental studies, and political science.

This workshop is made possible by funding from the Department of State’s Program for the Study of Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII).

A Woman’s Work is Never Done: Female Life and Labor across the Imperial, Soviet and Post-Soviet Eras 

Co-moderators: Colleen Lucey (University of Arizona) and Alexis Peri (Boston University)

The politics surrounding women’s labor in the Russian and Soviet space have long fascinated scholars. Historically, women’s activism for professional, political, and educational equality in the region has been strikingly checkered and, in some ways, more extreme in terms of setbacks and successes, than in the west. Compared to their counterparts in Europe, women in the Russian empire were among the first to have the right to vote, to serve in the armed forces, and achieve other benchmarks of citizenship. However, the empire was thoroughly patriarchal at the familial, regional, and imperial levels. The Soviets challenged these inequalities and offered women greater professional and educational opportunities than nearly anywhere in the world. Such achievements, however, make the pervasive discrimination Soviet women faced on the job all-the-more jarring. In the 1990s, during the “shock therapy” of privatization, women in the region yet again mobilized their entrepreneurial skills by hustling between multiple jobs and organizing informal barter and cooperative networks. In contemporary Russia, where women make up the bulk of the workforce, the Kremlin has recognized that women’s labor—especially migrant work—is an economic necessity. Regardless of the historical period or the profession, women workers have continually had to navigate expectations that they remain traditionally feminine and domestic.

Hosted by the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC) and the Slavic Reference Service (SRS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Co-sponsored by the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program.

Media Culture in Balkan and Eurasian Muslim Communities

Co-moderators: Laura Olson Osterman (University of Colorado Boulder) and Wendell Schwab (Pennsylvania State University)

This workshop will explore recent changes in media, media literacy, communications, and publishing in contemporary Muslim communities across the East European and Eurasian region, and how these changes affect sociopolitical trends, personal beliefs and identities. We invite presentations on how media influences people and events, shapes ideology and behavior, instigates or quells political action, sustains diasporas of ethnicity and belief, propagates flows of knowledge, and contributes to the construction and mobilization of identity within these communities. We interpret “media” broadly to include news media, social media, internet media, cinema, and print media. The workshop will include presentations by participants, discussions of recent scholarship, and bibliographical presentations by Slavic Reference Service staff.

This workshop is made possible by funding from the Department of State’s Program for the Study of Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII).


Other Summer 2021 Programs

International Studies Research Lab 

  • Current faculty or instructors at community colleges or minority-serving institutions
  • Virtual program that will run May 17 - July 30, 2021.