Imagining freedom

Friday 16 April 2010

Just two weeks after the shocking Moscow metro bombings, key players from the Caucasus region will gather for discussions in St Andrews this weekend (16-17 April).

Ambassadors to the UK from Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia will arrive on Friday to take part in an event of international significance hosted by the University of St Andrews.

The two-day event, ‘The Caucasus: Imagining Freedom, Negotiating Dominion’, is organised by the University’s Centre for Russian, Soviet, Central and East European Studies.

Organiser Dr Rick Fawn, of the University’s School of International Relations, commented, “The Caucasus is a region of tremendous strategic and cultural importance which remains relatively understudied and little understood. With the tragic recent events of Moscow, this event is unfortunately particularly timely, although the region has endured the consequences of major wars and unresolved conflicts for over 20 years”.

The event, supported by the British Academy, will examine topics including international relations, peace, security and conflict studies, human rights, religion, history, linguistics, culture, literature and mythology.

In addition to the three ambassadors, fourteen guest speakers from the UK, the US, Europe and Russia will speak on topics such as recent conflicts, ‘virtual’ nationalist movements, recruitment practices of criminal elites and the impact of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Fellow conference organiser Dr Claire Whitehead from the Russian Department said, “We intend that this extraordinary range of participants will help to foster greater understanding of a variety of issues connected with the area.”

Considered one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions on Earth, the Caucasus has endured six wars and numerous terrorist attacks in the past two decades. The human toll includes two million displaced and continuing territorial disputes.

Conference co-organiser, Dr Oliver Smith said, “We are honoured to be welcoming such a diverse range of international experts on this region to St Andrews. The conference will present a uniquely interdisciplinary approach on this crucial crossroads of civilisations which continues to occupy a central place on the geopolitical map of the twenty-first century.  By bringing together geopolitics and culture, we hope to arrive at original conclusions and exciting perspectives in the future study of the region.”

The conference is open and free of charge to University staff and students and residents of St Andrews.


Note to editors

The organisers are available for interview:

Dr Oliver Smith
Telephone: 01334 463631
Email: [email protected]

Dr Claire Whitehead
Telephone: 01334 462951
Email: [email protected]

Dr Rick Fawn
Telephone: 01334 462957
Email: [email protected]

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Communications Manager on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected]

Ref:  Caucasus 160410

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