Letter from the Director

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Dear CERS community,

As we close the academic year 2022-2023 I want to take a moment to update you on our activities and plans.

The years that have passed since the start of the pandemic have been tumultuous on all fronts. Observers use the word ‘polycrisis’ to describe the combination of political, economic, social, and environmental uncertainties that we face. If the intensity of the pandemic has waned, its impacts continue to play out globally; Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine shows no sign of resolution; Europe faces destabilizing inflationary pressures, its migration policies extract a brutal toll in and beyond the Mediterranean, its politics (like ours) are blighted by polarization and radicalization, and catastrophic climate conditions exceed national and international capacity to anticipate much less mitigate the impact. At the Center we aim to sustain interdisciplinary and transatlantic scholarship that provides perspective, background, and timely insight from scholars in the US and abroad as events such as these unfold.

We have been lucky this year to support a series of programs that celebrate the creativity in challenging times of scholars, artists, documentarians, and students. We were particularly happy to provide a forum for young Ukrainian artists, filmmakers, and art critics to bring their work to UCLA; to host viewings of new Ukrainian features and documentaries as well as an in person panel with Maria Pevchikh from the Academy Award winning “Navalny;” to showcase the work of innovative Dutch theater director Maaike Bleeker; and, in our annual lecture at the Wende Museum of the Cold War, to bring expertise on communist Romania’s abortion policy to US debates. We collaborated with our UCLA partners to host a major retrospective of/panel on the films of Greek Director Theo Angelopoulos, a director whose work presciently focused on 20th century repression, migration, and borders, and we continued our longtime collaboration with the South East European Film Festival, whose rich selection of films and cultural events reflects the complexities of this region. We invited scholars, curators and writers from the US and abroad for a joint symposium at the Getty Center on cultural destruction in Ukraine and in the 1990s war in Bosnia. Visiting scholar Ahlam Chemlali lectured on EU migration policy in Tunisia, and our visiting scholars from the Netherlands enriched our undergraduate program with courses on religious diversity in Europe and the art and politics of literary translation. (For a full listing of programs and podcasts, check out our events page.)

We are excited for a new year of programming in and we are grateful to our Faculty Advisory Committee and other partners for their continuing contributions to our programming. I will be on sabbatical leave this academic year and I am thrilled to say that Daniel Treisman, Professor of Political Science with expertise on Russia, has agreed to serve as interim Faculty Director, joining our excellent Executive Director, Liana Grancea. We are so happy to welcome Dan!

We also wish to thank Lenka Unge, our Program Director, who will be moving back to Sweden this summer, for her invaluable work and treasured presence during the last two years. We are heartbroken to see her go, grateful for all she has done, and wish her and her husband a wonderful return. I want to thank everyone in the CERS community for their participation in and contributions to our events and to encourage all of you to follow our website, Facebook, and other social media sites for emerging programming. As always, please feel free to communicate with us over email.

Laurie Kain Hart, Director