Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) is the leading international organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia, and Eastern Europe in regional and global contexts. Established in 1948, ASEEES presents an international forum enabling a broad exchange of information and ideas, stimulating further work and sustaining the intellectual vitality of the field. The 51st Annual ASEEES convention will take place in San Francisco from Saturday, November 23 till Tuesday, November 26, 2019.

The current thematic framework is dedicated to considering the issue of belief. Belief will always be a subject of difference and dissent and we look forward to a wide range of topics, approaches, and arguments in panels and papers. We especially welcome contributions that theorize the category itself as well as explore its forms and places in the Slavic, East European and Eurasian world. Conceptually, we might ask what is “belief” as a category of experience and practice? What is its relation to other forms of cognition, knowledge, and judgment, including faith, science, and emotion? What is its relation to social and material life, to physical and bodily practices? How has belief been entwined with other key categories of analysis, such as culture, gender, class, religion, and nation, including previous ASEEES themes such as performance, transgression, revolution, fact, boundaries, and memory. And, of course, how has belief, for better and worse, been part of the histories, lives, and possible futures of this region.

On Monday, November 25 Marta Verginella and Urška Strle will present their paper entitled “Divided Memories: Public Use of Oral History in Slovenia after 1991”. The paper will be drawing on the authors’ experience introducing methods and principles from microhistory and oral history into Slovenian discourse, by focusing on the persistence of the collaborator/partisan dichotomy in framings of remembering World War II, and the potential for oral history to broaden or pluralize contemporary understandings of the past.

Their paper will be presented at the panel “Credo: The Promise and Problems of Conducting Oral History Across the Former Yugoslav Borders” chaired by Pamela Lynn Ballinger from the University of Michigan and accompanied by colleagues Keith S. Brown from Arizona State University, Anna Di Lellio from The New School in New York, and Joanie Andruss from Appalachian State University.

Drawing on their experiences conducting collaborative oral history projects in Macedonia, Kosovo and Slovenia – where World War II and its aftermath were marked by widespread displacement, violence, and in turned provoked polarization in historical interpretation – the presenters discuss the status and utility of oral history and in particular its significance for projects of bearing witness in efforts toward justice, reconciliation, atonement and reckoning with the past. The papers focus in particular on ways to respond to the risk that oral history’s form and content are dismissed, marginalized or weaponized in the politics of remembrance, denialism and/or grievance-mobilization. Although widely accepted in Western Europe and the United States, oral history continues to attract skepticism from professional historians and broader publics in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Oral historians—especially when coming from “outside”—can be viewed as credulous dupes, and their interlocutors’ status as credible authorities often challenged.

More about the ASEEES convention: