The SRC to be Renamed the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center

The Slavic Research Center has decided to rename itself the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center from April 1, 2014. This is a long-awaited event. From the beginning, the name “Slavic” was a kind of compromise: In 1955, when the SRC was established, such words as “Soviet,” “socialist,” and even “Russia” (which was then associated with the old tsarist regime) inevitably bore ideological connotations. Therefore, the SRC’s founders selected “Slavic” as a neutral word, although the SRC was not a center for Slavistics in its narrow sense (Slavic philology) but was rather a social-science-oriented center. Needless to say, the area of the former Soviet and East European countries has never been wholly “Slavic,” with many non-Slavic nations and ethnic groups.

After the demise of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, it became even more difficult to call the whole area “Slavic.” Now among the 29 independent countries (not including unrecognized states) in the former Soviet and East European space, 16 are countries with predominantly non-Slavic populations, and there are also a number of non-Slavic republics in the Russian Federation.

The search for new names for the former Soviet space has become a global problem, and many research organizations have begun to use the word “Eurasia” in relation to this area, although the distinction between the wider Eurasia (Europe plus Asia) and the post-Soviet Eurasia remains problematic. The SRC invented the word “Slavic Eurasia,” and has been using it in the titles of books and research projects, such as “Changes in the Slavic-Eurasian World” in 1995–1998 and “Making a Discipline of Slavic Eurasian Studies” in 2003–2008. The rapid development of Central Eurasian studies at the SRC since the mid-1990s has also strengthened its “Eurasian” orientation. Moreover, in recent years, the SRC has conducted big projects involving a large number of specialists on China, India, and other regions of Eurasia outside the former Soviet and East European space (“Comparative Research on Major Regional Powers in Eurasia” in 2008–2013 and “Reshaping Japan’s Border Studies” in 2009–2014).

The time is ripe for changing the name of our center. At the same time, many of us and our friends have an attachment to the traditional name, so we decided to limit the change to a minimum, only adding one word. The abbreviation “SRC” will remain in use, at least for the time being. The new name “Slavic-Eurasian Research Center” is effective in showing our research orientations in a double sense. First, it more correctly indicates the area we study, i.e., former Soviet and East European countries, where people speak not only Slavic, but also Turkic, Finno-Ugric, Caucasian, Baltic, Iranian, Mongolic, Romance, Tungusic, and other languages. Second, it implies our vision of area studies in an age of globalization: the characteristics of a region cannot be properly understood without comparison with other regions and research on transborder phenomena, and cooperation with specialists in studies of other regions of the world, especially Eurasia (China, India, the Middle East, Western Europe, Japan, Southeast Asia, etc.), is vital for us.

The renaming does not mean that we are curtailing Slavic studies. On the contrary, unlike the social-science-oriented SRC until the 1990s, we have now almost equal numbers of social scientists and humanities scholars, including prominent specialists in Slavic literature and languages. In other words, Slavic studies and Eurasian studies have been simultaneously developing at the SRC, stimulating each other. We will continue to be a center for both Slavic and Eurasian studies, and would like to entreat: Slavists and Eurasianists of the world, unite!