About this Site

I started this blog in 2008 as an excuse to have longer, structured conversations with specialists on East-Central and Southeastern Europe, Russia and the former Soviet Union who were visiting the Cornell campus. A friend of mine in the English Department, the writer John Lennon, was doing something similar (albeit in a much more sophisticated manner!) with his wonderful WRITERS AT CORNELL series and I thought it was an excellent idea. 

My early curiosity extended in a few directions: how scholars came to the field, how they have contributed to it, and what the future holds for the study of this region. Obviously there is no consensus on these matters nor should there be, so in documenting a diversity of views, I have sought to highlight the vast realm of possibilities for myself and others to consider.

Since those early interviews a great deal has changed. I started interviewing scholars in places I was visiting (Germany, Ireland, Turkey, Washington, DC), as well as individuals who were not scholars, but rather activists or others actively engaged in trying to shape the future of this region (Greece). Overall the interviews have become longer and my questions have come to focus more on the particular individual contributions of scholars to the field. In the near future I will be branching out into some other areas, as well, interviewing advanced graduate students and posting longer, life-work profiles of senior scholars comprised of several long interviews, photographs, and documents. 

Eventually the site might be used to reflect on what has shaped our field and on the intellectual trajectories of particular scholars, but above all I feel strongly that these interviews should be seen primarily as snapshots, not unlike the sort of conversations we all have with our colleagues and friends in the field. None of the interviewees were given the questions in advance, nor did I prepare all of my questions in advance: many were impromptu, derived during the conversations themselves. Some interviewees have subsequently told me that their thinking on certain issues has changed, or that they thought they had inadequately expressed what they wanted to say in answer to this or that question during an interview. The freedom and capacity to change and refine our views and approaches to intellectual endeavors is of paramount importance, so I caution listeners to take neither the views expressed here nor the formulation of the questions as a reflection of the "true" and "only" positions of either the interviewees or myself (the interviewer). For my own part, in the course of preparing these interviews I have learned many things that have changed my perspective on our field and I am certain that process will continue.

Though I've tried to keep technical glitches to a minimum or edit them out where possible, I would like to apologize for the rough spots that do remain (a few of the interviews have background noise, a couple cut off abruptly or a cell phone rings).  It's also currently the case--though I hope someday this will change--that these are not podcasts, but mp3 audio files that have to be downloaded in full from a host site (Cornell's eCommons). 

The people I have interviewed have been gracious enough to allow me to allow others to listen in on these conversations. My sincerest thanks go to them. I feel fortunate to be working in a field with so many exceptional thinkers, writers, activists and individuals and on a region so rich in paradoxes, ideas, and inspirational eccentricities.

Holly Case
Ithaca, NY
July 27, 2013