On Saturday, April 28th the Ellison Center at the University of Washington held their 24th Annual
Northwest Regional Conference for Russian, East European and Central Asian studies (REECAS NW). In previous years, the conference has been hosted at other universities such as Portland State University (2014), the University of Puget Sound (2016), and Reed College (2017), but this year, the conference returned to the University of Washington and took place in the Simpson Center for Humanities. Research presentations touched on a wide variety of topics including contemporary politics, history, security, linguistics and language politics, identity and nationalism, and gender and queer studies.
This was a year of growth for the conference, reflected in its new status as a Regional Affiliate Conference of ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies), who also sponsored the conference. The conference was well attended and student and faculty presenters came from universities from as far as Pennsylvania as well as from Nevada, California, and British Columbia Canada. To add to the “firsts” of the 2018 conference, was the inclusion of a virtual presentation from a graduate student from Europe studying in a joint program from the University of Glasgow, Dublin City University, and Charles University in Prague.
The plenary session entitled “The End of the Bromance? A Serious Discussion on US-Russia Relations in Times of Tension,” featured a panel of scholars from four universities and three countries, including the Ellison Center Director and Associate Professor at the University of Washington, Scott Radnitz; Benjamin Tromly from the University of Puget Sound; Nicole Jackson from Simon Fraser University in Canada; and Yoonhee Kang, a visiting professor at the University of Washington from Kookmin University in Korea. Panelists focused on various aspects of Russia’s role in the world and its relationship with the United States, including the history of US policies in the surrounding regions since the end of the Soviet Union, the ways this history has kept US and Russian interests opposed to each other, and its consequences for peace and stability. Scott Radnitz addressed provocative questions regarding whether Vladimir Putin may have compromising information on Donald Trump, how he might use it, and what that would mean for U.S.-Russia relations.
After such a successful conference, the Ellison Center is looking forward to next year’s event, which will again be hosted at the University of Washington. The 2019 conference will be a larger multi-day conference in celebration of the 25th anniversary of REECAS NW.