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On Decentering and “Decolonizing” Slavic and East European Studies

April 13, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

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The field that is now referred to as “Slavic Studies,” “Slavic and East European Studies,” or “Slavic East European, and Eurasian Studies” emerged in the 1940s with Russia at its core. As geopolitical realities changed, so did the components of the field, areas of specialization, and regional foci of scholars. This was, unsurprisingly, the result of seismic political, social, and cultural changes that have altered Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Other changes came with the multiple European Union enlargements that reconfigured states and redefined the meaning, or meanings, of “Europe.” Unfortunately, Slavic and East European Studies has been slow to reflect these changes. In this presentation Sunnie Rucker-Chang relates the past and present of “Slavic Studies” to address ways of decentering the dominant frames, adopting new ways of producing knowledge about and within the field, by way of the periphery, and engaging with ideas that are relevant to, but nonetheless frequently placed outside of, Slavic and East European Studies.


Dr. Sunnie Rucker-Chang works, writes, and researches on the social construction of race and culture as it relates to privileged and marginalized communities in Central and Southeast Europe. In her research, Rucker-Chang focuses on how literature and film contribute to culture and nationalist identities, especially in the creation and maintenance of racialized communities in Southeast Europe. Her other research interests include émigré and exile literature and the application of post-colonial thought to post-socialist contexts. Her research has been funded by the American Association of University Women, Taft Research Center, and University Research Council. She is Co-director and Co-PI of the Howard University Undergraduate Think Tank. This program addresses the issue of systemic racism and discrimination by supporting and promoting the advancement of students and scholars from underrepresented and underserved populations in the field of REEES.


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