UM to Host 16th Annual Central and Southwest Asia Conference

April 10, 2018

MISSOULA – Faculty, students and researchers from around the world will gather to participate in the 16th annual Central and Southwest Asia Conference at the University of Montana on Wednesday through Friday, April 18-20.

The conference will feature several panels and presentations that address international issues, including the centrality of Central Asia, Israel’s achievements, the Russian Orthodox Church in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the Syrian conflict, Donald Trump’s foreign policy agenda and more.

In addition to international experts from across the globe, numerous scholars from UM departments such as history, modern and classical languages, anthropology and the Defense Critical Language and Culture Program, also will participate.

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

Wednesday, April 18

  • 10:30 a.m.-noon – Lecture presentation: “Identity, Religion and Nationalism in Medieval Europe: The Invention of the ‘Negative Muslim Other’ in the 11th Century ‘Chanson de Roland,’” presented by Michel Valentin, research scholar at Existential Psychoanalytic Institute and Society.
  • Noon-1:30 p.m. – Outstanding Students Panel Presentation, featuring UM students Kelsie Murphy, Chris Hanson and Carson Blake. Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center co-director Ardi Kia will serve as chair and discussant.
  • 1-2:30 p.m. – Lecture Presentation: “The Centrality of Central Asia,” presented by Ardi Kia.
  • 2:30-4:30 p.m. – Shanghai International Studies University Panel Presentations, presented by four students and chaired by Zhen Cao of the UM Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.
  • 7-8:30 p.m. – Keynote Presentation: “Israel at 70: Great Achievements While Facing Regional Challenges, An Israeli Perspective,” presented by Ravit Baer, Israel deputy consul general to the Pacific Northwest. Robert Seidenschwarz, chairman of the Montana World Affairs Council, will serve as chair and discussant, and UM President Seth Bodnar will provide opening remarks.

Thursday, April 19

  • 1-2 p.m. – Lecture Presentation: “Handmaiden of the State? The Russian Orthodox Church in Putin's Russia,” presented by Robert Greene, UM history department chair. Michael Mayer, UM history professor, will serve as chair and discussant.
  • 2:15-4:30 p.m. – Shanghai International Studies University Panel Presentation, presented by Yu Jianhua, Institute of International Relations deputy director, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences; Li Yi, professor and director of Arab World Studies Office of Middle East Studies Institute, Shanghai International Studies University; and Yao Quan, doctoral candidate at Middle East Studies Institute, Shanghai International Studies University. Cao will chair this panel.
  • 7-8:30 p.m. – Keynote Presentation: “The Syrian Conflict: An Emerging New Regional Order and Challenges it Presents for the Current U.S. Administration,” presented by Amr Al-Azm, professor of Middle East history and anthropology at Shawnee State University.

Friday, April 20

  • 1-2:30 p.m. – Panel Presentation: “Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan in Trump’s Foreign Policy Agenda,” presented by Owen Sirrs, UM professor of culture and regional studies, Defense Critical Language and Culture Program; Michael Mayer, UM history professor; and Mehrdad Kia, director of the UM Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center.
  • 2:30-4 p.m. – Lecture Presentation: “What Part Do You Play: America, Imperialism and Cybernetics,” presented by UM student scholar Curtis Schiwal.

The conference is sponsored by the UM Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center, Montana World Affairs Council, UM Department of History, the Defense Critical Language & Culture Program at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, and Shanghai International Studies University.

For more information on the Central and Southwest Asia Conference, call Mehrdad Kia at 406-396-1143 or email mehrdad.kia@mso.umt.edu.  

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Contact: Mehrdad Kia, director, UM Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center, 406-396-1143, mehrdad.kia@mso.umt.edu.