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2014 Symposium on China, Russia, and the World: Focus on Africa

Robert F. Byrnes

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia,
meeting with Jacob Zuma,

President of South Africa,
during the BRICS Summit in 2013

April 24, 2015
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM,
IMU Oak Room

Format | Biographical Information about Speakers |


The successor to REEI’s annual Roundtable on Postcommunism, “China, Russia, and the World” is a series of annual symposia that focus on the engagement (economic, cultural, political) of China and Russia with particular regions of the world. The inaugural symposium, “Focus on Africa” will address Chinese and Russian involvements with Africa, exploring the consequences of these involvements for the continent and its peoples and tracing the motivations that have shaped the nature of Russian-African and Chinese-African relations from the Cold War into the present.

Biographical Information:


Keir GilesSarah Phillips is Professor of Anthropology and Interim Director of the Russian and Eastern European Institute at Indiana University. Her research interests include the impact of socialist collapse on people’s lives, especially in terms of gender formations, health, social inequalities and social justice, and changing citizen-state relations. Areas of major inquiry have included the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster on health and healing strategies, the role of women in Ukraine’s civil society, the politics and poetics of disability, and, most recently, drug use and HIV prevention. From 2008-2013, she was editor of the Anthropology of Eastern Europe Review (AEER), a biannual edited journal of scholarship on Eastern Europe, Russia, the Balkans, and Central Asia. Her books include Women’s Social Activism in the New Ukraine: Development and the Politics of Differentiation, and Disability and Mobile Citizenship in Postsocialist Ukraine.

Keir GilesHeidi Ross is Director of the East Asian Studies Center and Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Indiana University. She is also Co-director of the Australian National University-Indiana University Pan Asia Institute. She has taught and consulted at numerous institutions in East Asia and has served as president of the Comparative and International Education Society, co-editor of Comparative Education Review, and Chair of Educational Studies and Director of Asian Studies at Colgate University. Ross has published widely on Chinese education, gender and schooling, and qualitative research methodology. Her books include China Learns English (Yale), The Ethnographic Eye (Garland), and Taking Teaching Seriously (Paradigm). She is currently leading two field-based projects in the PRC on student engagement in Chinese higher education and girls' educational access and attainment in rural Shaanxi.


Keir GilesPadraig Carmody is a Lecturer in Geography at Trinity College, Dublin. He holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Minnesota, and a BA and MSc from Trinity College, Dublin. His research focuses on the political economy of globalization in Africa. He has published several books on Africa, most recently The Rise of the BRICs in Africa and The New Scramble for Africa, which won the Geographical Society of Ireland’s Book of the Year Award in 2011.

Keir GilesMaxim Matusevich is Associate Professor of History and Director of the  Russian and East European Studies Program at Seton Hall University. His research focuses on the Cold War in Africa as well as the history of African-Russian encounters and his publications include Africa in Russia, Russia in Africa: Three Centuries of Encounters and No Easy Row for a Russian Hoe: Ideology and Pragmatism in Soviet-Nigerian Relations, 1960-1991.

Keir GilesTang Xiaoyang is resident scholar at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy and an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University. His research interests include political philosophy, China’s modernization process, and China’s engagement in Africa. At the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center, Tang’s work focuses on China-Africa relations, with a particular emphasis on differences between China and countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with respect to aid models and the dynamics of economic development in Africa. Before he came to Tsinghua, Tang worked at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC. He has also served as a consultant for the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and various research institutes and consulting companies.


Istvan BenczesGardner Bovingdon is Associate Professor, Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University. His research interests include politics in contemporary Xinjiang, the history of modern Xinjiang, historiography in China and nationalism and ethnic conflict. Courses he recently taught include The History of Xinjiang to 1911, From Colony to Kingdom to Province: Politics in Modern Xinjiang, The Politics of Identity in China and Inner Asia, Grave-robbers, and Missionaries, and Spies: Foreign Adventurers in Chinese Turkistan and he was awarded the Clark Distinguished Teaching Award (Yale) in 2000. His publications include: The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land by Columbia University Press (2010).

Keir GilesAlex Lichtenstein is Associate Professor of History at Indiana University. His work centers on the intersection of labor history and the struggle for racial justice in societies shaped by white supremacy, particularly the U.S. South (1865-1954) and 20th-century South Africa. His Twice the Work of Free Labor examines the role of convict leasing and chain gangs in the remaking of the American South in the half century after the Civil War. He has also written extensively about race relations in the labor movement, interracial agrarian radicalism, early civil rights struggles, and the impact of anticommunism on the labor and civil rights movements. His current book project, Trouble in Paradise: Labor Radicalism, Race Relations, and Anticommunism in Florida, 1940-1960, explores the interplay of the civil rights and labor movements in Florida during the 1940s. In 2000, he traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright Fellowship, where he developed an interest in comparative U.S./South African history and began research on the history of black and "mixed" trade unions under apartheid, a subject that will form the basis of a future book on South African labor relations and the state, tentatively entitled Making Apartheid Work.


East Asian Studies Center, Russian and East European Institute, African Studies Program