Illinois Wesleyan to Host Russian Ethnographer as Scholars at Risk Speaker

December 20, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- An ethnographer from Russia, whose name is not being published for security reasons, will give a public lecture at Illinois Wesleyan University as a part of the Scholars at Risk Speaker Series to educate the public about threats to academic freedom and attacks on scholars.

The lecture, entitled "Family, Women and Survival Strategies in the Caucasus and Central Asia" will be held on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 4 p.m. in the Beckman Auditorium of The Ames Library (1 Ames Plaza, Bloomington).  The program is free and open to the public.

The ethnographer will discuss the challenges facing women and others in the region, drawing in particular on her own experiences as a female scholar in Russia.

Her work focuses on gender issues, ethnic identity and traditional life in the North Caucasus.  It has been reported, given the current political situation in the region, especially in Chechnya, these are all sensitive areas of research.  Because of the need to respect traditional cultures in the region in order to achieve peaceful conflict resolution, she began feeling pressures to quiet her views.

The scholar received her Kandidatskaya degree from Moscow State University and defended her doctoral thesis at the Institute of Oriental Studies. She conducted original field work in social anthropology in Central Asia and the Caucasus from 1980-1999. She taught courses at Moscow State University, and for the UNESCO International Peace Program in Spain.  She came to the United States first as a fellow at the United Institute of Peace and later as a Rockefeller Fellow at the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame.  Her major publications include two individual monographs: The Family in the Developing Countries of the Orient and A socio-demographic analysis and Inter-family behavior of Oriental Women.

The scholar is also the editor and a contributing author of two other books, which were published as a result of her project "Portrait of Oriental Village."  She has had her articles published in numerous Russian, English and American journals.

Illinois Wesleyan is an early founder of Scholars at Risk, an international network of over 80 colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the world that promotes academic freedom and defends the human rights of scholars worldwide.  Scholars at Risk members provide sanctuary for persecuted scholars by hosting them as visiting professors, lecturers, researchers or students.  Network members also may host events, including lectures and conferences, and contribute to research and advocacy efforts to promote academic freedom. 

In 2004 the University hosted Emmanuel Tatah Mentan, a political scientist and former journalist from Cameroon, as a visiting professor from the international Scholars at Risk Network.

For more information about Scholars at Risk, please visit: or contact Carla Stuart (212) 998-2179.

For information about the lecture, please contact Professor of Educational Studies Irving Epstein at (309) 556-3098.