Welcome Letter from the Director

Dear Ellison Center and REECAS Communities,

Ellison Center Director Dr. Sabine Lang

I am excited to greet REECAS faculty, students, and our Pacific Northwest communities in my new role as Director of the Ellison Center/REECAS.  Welcome to what will be an exciting year 2020/21, both academically and for the REECAS region. As I write this, protests against electoral fraud and government corruption in Belarus are leaving us wondering about what many call the ‘last dictatorship in Europe’. Lithuania, Romania, and Bulgaria will hold elections during this academic year, offering glimpses into their citizens’ stance towards issues such as European integration or the domestic handling of the current pandemic.  Other internationally recognized events in the area might fall prey to Covid-19. It looks as though Timişoara (Romania), Eleusis (Greece) and Novi Sad (Serbia), all three 2021 European Capitals of Culture, will have to postpone their rich array of cultural and social activities to 2022 or 2023. As travel is difficult to impossible in these times, we hope to use this academic year at the Ellison Center/REECAS to bring you programming that will keep you up-to-date, give you insights into on- and off-campus research, and hopefully enrich your engagement with the REECAS region and our Centers.

I spent what I consider my ‘formative years’ between 1982 and 2002 in Berlin, witnessing the fall of the Wall as a student and working in the first united Berlin government for a few years after German unification. Berlin to me is a city where East and West Europe, as well as Russia and Europe, have always intersected and still do so on a daily basis. Just this past week, we witnessed some of these intersections: Alexei Navalny, one of Russia’s most prominent critics of the current government, fell ill to what looks like a poison attack at the Tomsk airport, and is now being treated in Berlin’s Charité hospital. A few days later, we saw protesters at a large demonstration against the German handling of Covid-19 relocate to the steps of the German Parliament, some of them waving Russian flags along with the old flag of imperial Germany.  In short: There is lots to see, analyze, and understand at the intersections of the European/Eurasian continent. In this spirit, we will continue to develop programming that engages students, brings faculty together, and reaches out to our communities in the Pacific Northwest.

A special welcome goes to the nine first and second year REECAS M.A. students whose work on a variety of matters in Russia, Eastern Europe, the Baltics, and Central Asia we would like to showcase this year. Like everybody, we are still getting accustomed to remote learning and are uncertain what the coming year will bring. However, we are excited about how our programming shapes up and we look forward to your involvement and input. Currently scheduled activities include the following, with more to come:

  • Panel on ‘Russian Disinformation and Journalism’ in Fall 2020
  • A possible REECAS Northwest event series in Fall 2020
  • US-Russia-Europe foreign policy talk with Ambassador Nicholas Burns on October 29, 2020
  • ‘30 Years German Unification’ on October 10, 2020
  • Annual Herbert J. Ellison Lecture in Winter/Spring 2021
  • REECAS Northwest Conference in Spring 2021
  • Several book talks with current authors

Stay tuned for more information on these and many more events.

I look forward to working with all of you during this coming academic year. Please e-mail me and Phil with ideas and questions at salang@uw.edu and plyon@uw.edu.

All best,

Sabine Lang

Director, Ellison Center

Chair, REECAS Program

Professor, Jackson School of International Studies