UM to Host 13th Annual Central and Southwest Asia Conference

April 15, 2015

MISSOULA – Faculty, students and researchers from around the world will gather to participate in the 13th annual Central and Southwest Asia Conference at the University of Montana on Wednesday through Friday, April 22-24.

The conference, hosted by the Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center at UM, will feature several panels and presentations on the history, culture, politics and religions of China, the Middle East, and Central and Southwest Asia. 

“It’s a major international conference, which is quite exceptional for not only Montana, but for the United States,” said Mehrdad Kia, Central and Southwest Asian Studies director. “We are very proud of that.”

Speakers include Paris-based author Liliane Messika, who will deliver a keynote presentation about the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine; Chinese scholars Yang Yang and Qian Xuming, who will speak about the relationship between China and the Middle East; and Robert Greene, UM’s own distinguished expert on Russia, who will discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine in his keynote presentation. 

The Rocky Mountain Ballet will perform several times during the conference before the sessions begin, adding a musical and artistic dimension to the event.

“This is an incredibly important event for us,” Kia said. “It puts the University of Montana not only on the national radar, but on the international radar and makes us a center for the study of a very important region of the world, which extends from Western China all the way to North Africa.”

All events will be held in the University Center Theater and are free and open to the public. The schedule of events follows: 

Wednesday, April 22

  • 10:30 a.m.-noon: Panel: “Hope in Action-NGO Partnerships and Faith Systems Unified by Common Goals and Values,” presented by United States of Hope members Susannah Cragwick, Kelcie Murphy and Hanan Alsairi. Moderator: Samuel P. Redfern, United States of Hope.
  • 12:10-2 p.m.: Panel: Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran. “Golden Ages of Central Asia,” presented by Ardi Kia, UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center. “Politics of Leadership and Spheres of Influence in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran,” presented by UM students James Papai and Cris Carson Blake. Moderator: Samir Bitar, UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center.
  • 2:30-4:30 p.m.: “Uyghurs in the Chinese Educational System: Inside and Outside Perspectives,” presented by Nijat Hushur, Berlin University of the Arts. Moderator: Ardi Kia, UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center.
  • 7-9 p.m.: Keynote Presentation: “Language Politics in Modern Ukraine,” presented by Robert Greene, UM Department of History chair and professor of Russian history. Welcome remarks: Nathan Lindsay, UM associate provost for dynamic learning. Moderator: Michael Mayer, UM Department of History professor.

Thursday, April 23

  • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Panel: Orientalism and the Images of Arabs and Muslims in Western Literature and Media. “Tales of Saladin: Islam, 20th Century British Fiction and the Culture of Modernity,” presented by Andrew Long, Department of Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Moderator: Samir Bitar, UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center. 
  • 12:30-2 p.m.: Central & Southwest Asian Studies Student Scholar Panel, presented by UM students Larry Himes, Eamon Ormseth, Mariah Rys-Sikora, Tim Severson and Luke Whitford. Moderator: Ardi Kia, UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center.
  • 2:10-3:30 p.m.: Panel: Women and Islam: Contemporary and Comparative Issues. “Critical Context: Understanding the Veil through Film and Art,” presented by Fazia Aitel, Claremont McKenna College. “Rape in India: Myth and Reality,” presented by Ruth Vanita, UM liberal studies program. Discussant: G.G. Weix, UM Department of Anthropology. 
  • 7-9 p.m.: Keynote Presentation: “French Liberalism, Charlie Hebdo, Islam and the Jewish State,” presented by Paris-based author Liliane Messika. Moderator: Michel Valentin, UM Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

Friday, April 24

  • 12:30-2 p.m.: Panel: China and the Middle East in the New Era. “China-Israeli Relations in the New Era,” presented by Yang Yang, Shanghai International Studies University. “One Belt and One Road Strategy and Middle East Strategy,” presented by Qian Xuming, Shanghai International Studies University. “The Islamic State: Real Challenges in a Virtual World,” presented by Bao Chengzhao, Shanghai International Studies University. Moderator: Zhen Cao, UM Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.
  • 2:10-3:30 p.m.: Panel: Perspectives on Islam, presented by Samir Bitar, UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center, and Jane Borish, UM. Moderator: Samir Bitar, UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center.  
  • 3:40-5 p.m.: Panel: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran. “Religion, Diversity and Democracy in Georgia,” presented by Milena Oganesyan of Tbilisi, Georgia. “Territory, Minority Relations and the 2008 War Between Russia and Georgia,” presented by Greta Starrett, University of Washington-Seattle. “Iran and Republic of Azerbaijan: Politics of Language and Ethnicity in Post-Soviet Space,” presented by Mehrdad Kia, UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center.
  • 6-8 p.m.: Roundtable Discussion: “Muslims in Europe and the United States,” presented by Fazia Aitel, Claremont McKenna College; Samir Bitar, UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center; Andrew Long, Claremont Graduate University Department of Cultural Studies; Liliane Messika, Paris-based author; and Michel Valentin, UM Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures. Moderator: Robert Seidenschwarz, Montana World Affairs Council. Sponsored by the UM Central & Southwest Asian Studies Center; Montana World Affairs Council; UM Department of History; UM Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; and the UM Russian Studies Program.

For more information on the Central and Southwest Asia Conference, call Kia at 406-243-2289 or email mehrdad.kia@mso.umt.edu.

 

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