Conference Missing Some Russian Scholars

November 10, 2017

As the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies meets this week for its annual convention in Chicago, organizers estimate that they’re missing about 50 Russian scholars who were unable to get visas in time to participate. The conference has about 2,600 registrants, not including exhibitors, and organizers were originally expecting about 150 participants from Russia.

Lynda Park, the association's executive director, emphasized that 50 is a "ballpark" estimate of the number of Russian scholars who have contacted ASEEES about an inability to get visas.

In late August, the U.S. embassy in Moscow announced a reduction of nonimmigrant visa processing -- a category that includes visiting scholars -- in Russia in response to reduced staffing as a result of a Russian government-ordered cap on the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel in the country. Russia had ordered the reductions in American diplomatic personnel as a retaliatory response to sanctions against Russia imposed by the U.S. over Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The U.S. is still conducting visa interviews in Moscow “at a reduced scale” but has indefinitely suspended all interviews at the consulates in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg. The announcement regarding visa processing reductions and suspensions was made Aug. 21, before many scholars would have applied for visas to come to the U.S. for a November conference.

"We definitely had people cancel, but not a huge number," Park said. "We also had offered to do Skype participation for our Russian scholars with visa problems. We have never done that before, because we feel that the technology doesn’t always work and we think it's important for scholars to be on-site for scholarly exchange. But with this sort of crisis, really, we felt that we had to offer another means for them to participate, so we offered Skype participation or videoconferencing participation. We are doing probably only about 12 or 13 sessions that way; we have 650 sessions going on.”

What was particularly unfortunate, Park said, was that the association had obtained a small external grant to pay for more travel grants for Russian scholars -- some of whom, because of the inability to get a visa, were unable to use them.

“Hopefully, next year either this issue will be resolved and the U.S. embassies and consulates will have more staffing to process visas or -- barring that -- our members and participants will be better prepared to apply for visas much earlier,” Park said.

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


+ -

Expand commentsHide comments  —   Join the conversation!

Opinions on Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U

What Others Are Reading

  • Viewed
  • Past:
  • Day
  • Week
  • Month
  • Year
Back to Top