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Belarusian Review

Belarusians Abroad

Belarusica at the AAASS Convention

The American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS) held its 35th National Convention in Toronto, Canada, on 20-23 November 2003. The total of over 400 panels and roundtables held during the four-day convention included a number of Belarusan historical, cultural and political issues. The main credit for their inclusion should go to Professor Zina Gimpelevich.

On the panel "Belarusan Literature and Music," chaired by the Harvard University Professor Curt Woolhiser, three papers were presented by: Zina Gimpelevich (U. of Waterloo, Canada): "Ryhor Baradulin's Poetry in Music;" Arnold McMillin (University College, London, UK) : "Bykau and Baradulin : Belarus' Moral Inspiration;" and Maria Paula Survilla (Wartburg College,Iowa) : "Belarusan Rock and the Construction of a Sound Community." Discussants on the panel were Joanna Survilla of the Belarusan Institute of Arts and Sciences in Canada and Jan Zaprudnik of the Belarusan Institute of Arts and Sciences in New York.
Another panel was devoted to "Issues in Belarusian* Linguistics" (chaired by Prof. Arnold McMillin). The following topics were discussed: Alicja Boruta-Sadkowski (U. of Northern Iowa) : "The Belarusian Standard Language of the 1920s and 1930s versus Contemporary Standard Belarusian;" Julia Verkholantsev (UCLA) spoke about the Ruthenian language of the early Grand Duchy of Lithuania; and Vincuk Viacorka (Belarus State U.) delved into "Historical Dualism in the Belarusian Graphic System and Problems of Transliteration and Practical Transcription." Discussants were Raymond Harry Miller of the Bowdoin College and Curt Woolhiser of Harvard.
A roundtable "Belarusan Nationalism as a Subject," chaired by Vitaut Kipel of the Belarusan Institute of Arts and Sciences (New York), debated papers by Violetta Kovaleva (RFE/RL Belarus Broadcast Service) on the preservation of national traditions by the Belarusan diaspora; Irina Lysenko (Belarusan Institute of Arts and Sciences, Canada) on the 1917-1919 Revolution in Belarus; Vincuk Viacorka on the views on nationalism by Belarus' political parties; and Jan Zaprudnik on the rehabilitation of the "Belarusan Nationalism" concept.
Belarus-related topics were part of the other panels, as well.
Professor Elena Gapova of the Minsk European Humanities University (EHU) presented a paper, "On Writing Women's/Gender History in Countries in Transition," in which she spoke of women's uneasy lot in her part of the world. Prof. Gapova was the editor of the recently published Russian-language book, "Women on the Edge of Europe" (Minsk: EHU Publishers, 2003) dealing with women of Belarus.
On the panel discussing "Politics in the Soviet Periphery between the World Wars" Prof. Beth Baird Yocum (Brandeis U.) presented paper, "A Study in Bureaucratic Obstinacy: Belarussification in the 1920s."
Nina G. Shapiro, the Slavic Librarian at the Princeton University, while speaking of the severe space problems at the Firestone Library (some of the books have to be stored in other places), cited examples of Belarusan literature books being kept available for immediate use.
Ethan S. Burger of the American University, in his paper, "The Problem of Corruption in the Russian Judiciary: Contrasting Views of its Scale and Implications," used comparisons with the similar situations in Belarus.
One of the Belarus-related roundtables was entitled "The Significance and Impact of the Kyiv Metropolitanate: The Ukrainian-Belarusian Tradition in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries."
The AAASS convention provided an opportunity for members of the recently established North American Association for Belarusian Studies (NAABS) to hold a business meeting on organizational matters. Prof. Curt Woolhiser, the NAABS president, informed that the Association's membership list contains over 100 names. Plans are under discussion to launch a NAABS newsletter and set up a web site.
Every AAASS convention is accompanied by a huge book exhibit with about fifty or more publishers and booksellers from the USA, Canada and, lately Russia, displaying their current production. It is worth noting that those browsing the indexes for Belarusica, now find it easier to find references, due to the standardized spelling of the country's name : BELARUS. Also, in the more fundamental volumes, one finds data on Belarus more often, as a result of the country's decade of independence.

The difference in spelling, i.e. Belarusian or Belarusan, is according to the author's preference.

This article appeared in
Belarusian Review, Vol. 15, No 4
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Copyright 2003 Belarusian Review
All rights reserved.

Jan Zaprudnik

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