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Symposium on the 'Turkic World Today' Friday at U.Va.

April 13, 2011 — The University of Virginia's semester-long program on Turkey continues Friday and Saturday with a symposium in Minor Hall's auditorium.

"The Turkic World Today" will examine issues including Islam, politics in Central Asia and Turkey's quest to join the European Union. The event is free and open to the public.

Friday's first session, beginning at 2 p.m., will focus on language and culture in the post-Soviet world. Friday evening's events will feature two film screenings: the documentary "Waiting for Uyghurstan" and the narrative movie "The Edge of Heaven." A discussion follows.

The second session, "Islam and Globalized Politics in Central Asia," begins Saturday at 9 a.m. and will feature a third film, "Coffee Futures." The symposium concludes at 3 p.m.

Panelists include scholars from political science, religious studies, linguistics and anthropology, sociology, and literary and film criticism. Speakers include Sean Roberts, director of the international development studies program and an associate professor of practice at George Washington University's Elliott School for International Affairs; Kathleen Collins, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota;  social anthropologist Ruth Mandel of University College London; and Svetlana Peshkova, assistant professor of anthropology from the University of New Hampshire.

The symposium is part of a semester-long series of symposia, concerts and lectures, collectively titled "Bridging World Regions: The Turkic Connection."

The Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures and the Center for Russian and East European Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences organized the Turkic Connection.

Center director Robert Geraci said it's important to examine Turkey and its geographically important location between Europe and Asia.

"The traditional approach has been to study Turkey through the prism of the Middle East," he said. "This is more of an interregional approach. We thought this might be more interesting because of the worlds Turkey falls between."

"Also," he added, "the Turkic world's profile has been raised in the last few weeks because of the unrest in the Middle East."

— By Jane Kelly

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