The Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center at Indiana University, Bloomington continued to face serious challenges during the Fall semester of 2020. Because of the ongoing Covid-19 virus pandemic we–and the entire university–had to deal with multiple and growing numbers of restrictions on our activities. Fewer and fewer classes at IUB took place in person, and the events IAUNRC sponsored all occurred online in a virtual format. Nevertheless, we have increasingly learned how to adapt to the changing circumstances, and we are especially grateful to members of the university community and the general public for cheerfully accommodating themselves to the unavoidable limitations we all face.
A significant event that took place in early October was a virtual site visit by representatives of the US Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) office which administers Title VI grant and fellowship programs. Specifically, they came to evaluate IUB’s National Resource Centers (NRCs) as well as our Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) centers all of which are located in the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies (HLS). With eight NRCs, of which seven are also FLAS-granting centers, Indiana University is one of the most successful IFLE-administered programs in the country. After being welcomed by IU President Michael McRobbie and HLS Dean Lee Feinstein our visitors spent four days meeting virtually with our NRC and HLS leaders as well as members of our Office of Research Administration. During that time the entire IAUNRC staff had an important dedicated meeting with Dr. Timothy Duvall, our IFLE Program Officer. The meeting created a useful opportunity to exchange views, and we were able to discuss NRC activities since the beginning of the current grant cycle.
Despite the restrictions and the effective banning of face-to-face events IAUNRC still managed to sponsor a number of significant forums this fall. Our continued commitment to cooperation with other centers (Russian and East European Institute, East Asian Studies Center, Islamic Studies Program) was demonstrated by our co-sponsorship of a joint annual symposium, this year on Islamic economies. IUB’s Marianne Kamp presented a Title VI Area Studies Showcase Lecture titled “Job for Orphans, Taxes for Kulaks, and Love of Tractors: Collectivization Oral Histories from Uzbekistan.” Recent developments in Kyrgyzstan were put into a range of perspectives in a panel discussion, “Unrest in Kyrgyzstan: Popular Uprisings in the 21st Century.” Finally, two presentations on Iran highlighted the crucial importance of this major player in the Middle East. Phillip Smyth from the Washington Institute addressed “Iran’s Eastward Focus: Revolutionary Guards and Central Asian Alliances,” and four experts from IUB (Carol Choksy, Jamsheed Choksy, Šumit Ganguly, and Feisal Istrabadi) evaluated the impact of the lifting of the UN arms embargo on Iran in a panel discussion–”Iran Untethered: A New Arms Race in the Persian Gulf Region.” In all cases we have been very pleased with the turnout and the level of participation.