The Association of Central Eurasian Students (ACES) at Indiana University, Bloomington hosted the 26th Annual ACES Conference on Saturday, February 29, 2020, at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. The ACES Conference is an opportunity for graduate students and emerging scholars in Central Eurasian Studies to present their research. This year, 46 panelists from 13 universities representing six countries joined Indiana University students and faculty for a day of engaging scholarship on Central Eurasia. The Conference featured insightful presentations on a wide array of topics, including environmental issues, linguistics, national identity, classical and modern history, political science, economics, religious studies, philosophy, philology, archaeology, and textual analysis in history and literature.
ACES was pleased to have Dr. Sören Stark deliver the keynote address for the 2020 Conference—even more so when it was discovered that Dr. Stark had presented his first paper as a doctoral student at the 9th ACES Conference back in 2002 on what was his first visit to the United States. Almost two decades later, Dr. Stark is an Associate Professor of Central Asian Art and Archaeology at New York University’s Center for the Study of the Ancient World. He has conducted and directed close to two decades of archaeological fieldwork in Central Asia, with research interests centered on Hellenistic, Late Antique and Early Medieval Sogdiana, as well as the archaeology and history of nomadic groups close to oasis territories in Western Central Asia. His keynote address, “Hellenism in Central Asia? Archaeological Perspectives on Rural Bukhara during Antiquity,” analyzed the influence of the Hellenistic period on rural life in historical Central Asia, as well as the process of archaeological fieldwork in the region today.
The ACES conference advances the Association of Central Eurasian Students’ mission to provide a forum for engagement and discussion for graduate student work on Central Eurasia. It is also a constructive opportunity for ACES members to gain experience organizing a major academic conference and to strengthen ties with the faculty. Special recognition goes to the ACES Conference Committee for ensuring that this year’s conference was able to build upon past success in organizing these meetings, increasing the visibility of Central Eurasian Studies on campus and beyond. Over the last 26 years, hundreds of attendees have utilized the conference as a venue for presenting their research and building connections with other scholars. Past keynote speakers have included Mark Elliott, Nicola Di Cosmo, Beatrice Forbes Manz, Robert McChesney, and Peter B. Golden.
The 26th Annual ACES Conference would not have been possible without the generous support of Indiana University and the Bloomington community. ACES thanks the Herman B. Wells Library for organizing the Friday night dinner reception for participants; Bloomington Bagel Co., Samira, and Anyetsang’s Little Tibet for catering the event; the IU Funding Board and all the IU academic units which provided financial support for the Conference; the faculty who served as panel discussants; Dr. Stark for delivering the keynote address; and all conference panelists for a day of engaging, insightful scholarship. We hope to see many of you back for the 27th Annual ACES Conference, tentatively scheduled for late February-early March 2021.
View images from the Conference here.