Russia vs. Georgia: Crisis in the Caucasus

Panel Discussion with Wellesley College Faculty Set for Sept. 4

For immediate release:
Aug. 29, 2008
Contact: Arlie Corday,

WELLESLEY, Mass. – Russia recently sent troops and tanks into the separatist South Ossetia to repel a Georgian attack. Now Wellesley College experts will weigh in on the situation with a panel discussion, "Russia vs. Georgia: Crisis in the Caucasus," Thursday, Sept. 4, at 4:15 pm in Tishman Commons, Wang Campus Center, on the Wellesley College campus.

"Russia is again in crisis," notes panelist Nina Tumarkin. "It always seems to happen in August."

Panelists will include Marshall Goldman of the economics department, Philip Kohl of the anthropology department, Nina Tumarkin of the history department, Ivan Arreguin-Toft of the political science department and moderator Thomas Hodge of the Russian department.

"Russia is again in crisis," said Tumarkin. "It always seems to happen in August: the 1991 coup; the collapse of the ruble in 1998; the sinking of the submarine Kursk in 2000. And now this: a serious conflict with Georgia and the United States. With U.S. and Russian warships positioned in the Black Sea, Mikheil Saakashvili ranting about the Russian invasion of Georgia's formerly autonomous separatist regions now recognized by Russia as independent states and a resurgent aggressive Russia flexing its muscles, we are facing a dangerous moment. Why did Georgia attempt to integrate South Ossetia into Georgia? Why did Russia respond so forcefully? Why does U.S. and international opinion blame only Russia for the war? And are we on the brink of a new cold war with Russia? Our panel of Russian area studies faculty, present and past, will address these and other pressing questions."

Goldman is the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Professor of Russian Economics (emeritus) at Wellesley. An expert on the Russian economy and the economics of high technology, he joined the Wellesley faculty in 1958. In 1998, the Wellesley College Alumnae Association awarded him its first Faculty Service Award. He was also associate director of the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University from 1975 to 2006.

Kohl is a the first Kathryn W. Davis Professor of Slavic Studies at Wellesley College. He teaches courses in physical anthropology, archaeology and on the peoples and cultures of Eurasia and the Middle East.

Turmarkin has been a Fellow at the Harvard University Russian Research Center. At Wellesley, where she has taught since 1975, she specializes in courses on the entire span of Russian history and on Europe in the 20th century.

Arreguin-Toft's teaching and research interests include asymmetric conflict (insurgency, counterinsurgency, and terrorism), women and power, Russian foreign policy, interstate politics and international relations theory.

Hodge has been a member of the Russian department faculty at Wellesley since the fall of 1992, and chair of the department since 1994. He has taught first-year Russian language and courses on 19th- and 20th-century Russian literature in English, and on Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and 19th-century poetry in Russian. Every other year, he co-teaches a field course for Wellesley students at Lake Baikal in Siberia and has lectured on Baikal at the Smithsonian Institution.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries.

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