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Highlights from the 20th Annual Central Eurasian Studies Conference

Every year for the past two decades, the Central Eurasian Studies Conference has taken place on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University, hosted by the Association for Central Eurasian Students (ACES), a graduate student organization housed in IU’s Department of Central Eurasian Studies. The conference provides a unique forum for scholars of Central Eurasian Studies to showcase their work on historical and contemporary Afghan, Balto-Finnic, Hungarian, Iranian, Mongolic, Tibetan, Tungusic, and Turkic peoples, languages, cultures, and states.

Continuing in this tradition, the conference took place this year on April 6th and marked the 20th year of its inception. Presenters included nearly forty graduate students and scholars from as close to home as Chicago and as far afield as Xinjiang Province in the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Japan, and Korea. More than a dozen panels brought scholars together to discuss their work in topics such as the Mongol Empire, ethnography in Afghanistan, Central Eurasian linguistics, sexuality in the Islamic World, historical sources for the study of Tibet, Islamic hagiographies, culture, expression, and identity in Central Eurasia, cultural contact in the ancient world, and more.

The conference drew on the expertise of the various departments at Indiana University, with panels chaired by faculty from the departments of Central Eurasian Studies, History, and the School of Journalism.

The keynote address was given by Dr. Tsering Shakya, Canada Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia. His talk, entitled, “Tibet and Mongolia: The Search for Nationhood in the Early 20th Century,” brought the focus of the conference to the contemporary period, illustrating the struggles for nationhood in Inner Asia in the context of world politics.

The conference was organized entirely by officers and student volunteers of ACES and made possible by the generous support of the Indiana University Student Association, Department of Central Eurasian Studies, Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, Ottoman and Turkish Studies Chair, Center for the Study of the Middle East, East Asian Studies Center, Center for the Study of Global Change, Russian and East European Institute, Department of Political Science, and Department of Linguistics.

Thank you to the members of ACES for twenty years of commitment to the Central Eurasian Studies Conference!