REEI hosted its annual Fall Reception on September 10, 2020 in a virtual format. The reception was organized by Communications Graduate Assistant, Anna Bloom. Our attendees gathered via Zoom to acknowledge REEI milestones, to applaud recipients of the REEI Armstrong awards, to welcome new student and faculty affiliates, and to celebrate the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year.
The reception opened with formal recognition of the generous gift by Shaun M. and Jill F. Byrnes in honor of Shaun’s father and REEI founder Professor Robert F. Byrnes. The gift provides a source of funding for REEI in perpetuity and will support a distinguished scholar position at the Institute. It builds on the Byrnes Fellowship, which was established in 1997 through the generosity of the late Eleanor Byrnes, beloved wife of Professor Byrnes, and has covered living expenses and full tuition for more than twenty REEI MA students who have moved on to successful careers in government, business, academia, and the non-profit sector. With this bequest, REEI is renamed as the Robert F. Byrnes Russian and East European Institute. Attendees were able to see the new REEI logo and celebrate Byrnes’ legacy.
Announcements connected with the Daniel Armstrong Memorial Research Paper Award followed. Established to honor the memory of the late Daniel Armstrong (1942-1972), a beloved IU Slavic Department alumnus, scholar, teacher, and administrator, the awards recognize outstanding student work in Russian and East European area studies at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. REEI Director Dr. Sarah Phillips first introduced Ann Armstrong, Professor Armstrong’s wife, and Nancy Armstrong, his daughter, before presenting award winners for work completed in 2019-2020: Amanda Lawnicki for her REEI MA essay, "Abandoned? Not in my Neighborhood: Perceptions of Abandoned Buildings in Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina,” written under the supervision of Regina Smyth (Political Science), chair, and committee members Marina Antic (Slavic) and Jennifer Brass (SPEA); Joseph John Dicandeloro (Central Eurasian Studies) for his graduate paper “Bouquet of Words: The Making of Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani’s Dictionary in Persian Imperial Context” written for the course Prophets, Poets and Kings, taught by Jamsheed Chosky (CEUS); and Stuart Sones for his undergraduate paper “Uzbek Estrada on the World Stage: Navigating Cultural Reform, Institutions, and Soviet Internationalism,” written for the course Central Asia in Soviet Times, taught by Marianne Kamp (CEUS).
Reception attendees were then introduced to this year’s Strategic Russian and East European Fellow, Lieutenant Colonel Steven J. Lacy, in residence with REEI and pursuing coursework in US foreign policy, US national security issues, US-Russia relations, and Russian language throughout 2020-21. This is the second consecutive year in which the Hamilton Lugar School and REEI have hosted an Army War College Fellow.
The Russian Studies Workshop (RSW) was in focus during the final part of the reception’s formal program. Dr. Phillips welcomed this year’s RSW postdoctoral fellows, Stanislav Budnitsky, whose research focuses on nationalism and global internet communication and governance, and Natalia Savelyeva, whose research addresses several topics: time, labor, and comparative managerial practices (US and Russia); protest movements in Russia and Ukraine; and war conflicts in the post-Soviet space, especially the Donbas. Also introduced was John Stanko, the incoming RSW graduate student fellow, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science and an M.S.Ed. in International and Comparative Education. His broader research area is Russia-China relations, with a focus on how Beijing and Moscow are using educational cooperation, particularly in the field of higher education, to strengthen ties.
At the conclusion of the formal program a convivial and entertaining hour of virtual socializing ensued as attendants moved back and forth through various theme-driven breakout rooms (Tsar Wars, Is it Budapest or Bucharest?, Yugonostalgia, Good Karma or Good Sarma? and others), emceed by members of the REEI staff. We wish to thank everyone who joined us for the virtual fall 2020 REEI reception, and we look forward to gathering again with all of you in fall 2021, hopefully in person!
REEI Fall Reception
Tuesday, December 15, 2020