LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas is hosting a conference Aug. 25-27 investigating the great changes in concepts of identity and community after the end of the Cold War. The conference, which will be held in the Kansas Union, is being organized by the KU area studies centers for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, East Asian Studies, Global and International Studies, Latin American Studies, and African Studies.
The last two decades have witnessed the confluence of many different kinds of radical change — the demise of communism as a force in politics with the end of the Soviet Union, the resurgence of radical religious community in all major religions, the emergence of global climate change as a major challenge to traditional economies and communities, and the innovative growth of digital technology. How we humans identify ourselves in both local and global contexts has shifted massively.
The three-day event will feature keynote addresses by Dr. Ayse Zarakol (Washington and Lee University) and Dr. Reuel Hanks (Oklahoma State University). On Thursday, Aug. 25, the public is invited to an evening screening of the prize-winning documentary “My Perestroika,” which chronicles the experiences of a small group of friends and classmates at the time of Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union and the impact on their lives. The film’s director, Robin Hessman, will be on hand for a Q&A session immediately afterward.
According to CREES Director Edith Clowes, the conference will address more than the fate of authoritarian governance.
“We will examine the impact of a broad array of new developments, including the emergence of the Internet, the fading of universal human values of equality, liberty, and the community of all peoples, and the resurgence of divisive forms of religious faith,” Clowes said. “The changing natural and technological environment is forcing us to think of ourselves and our communities in new and creative ways. In so many ways, the world community finds itself in a revolutionary era.”
With presentations from scholars in a variety of disciplines and specializing in many world areas, the conference’s ambitious goal is to describe, examine and understand the kinds of shift that have happened since the late 1980s and to attempt a complex model of the world humanity now inhabits.
The conference is free, but prior registration is required. For more information on the conference, and to register to attend, go to: www.crees.ku.edu/identity_conference.shtml.
“My Perestroika” will be shown in Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information on the film, visit www.myperestroika.com.