ASEEES AFTER CHARLOTTESVILLE: AN OPEN LETTER

The following is an open letter by two professional organizations of progressive scholars of Eastern European Studies and related fields, protesting the rise of white supremacy in trans-national context connecting the United States, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and demanding that ASEEES (the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies) take a stand on the issue, in particular following the recent white supremacist rally and murder of a progressive demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. You may sign the letter (regardless of your own scholarly / professional affiliation by following the link here.

To the members of our scholarly community,

On August 21, 2017, the boards of Q*ASEEES (the Society for the Promotion of LGBTQ Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies) and ADSEEES (the Association for Diversity in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies) sent a statement (posted below) to the Executive Committee of the ASEEES board and asked for an official endorsement. The statement, which is similar to those disseminated by other scholarly organizations, denounces the white supremacy that drove the violent events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia this summer.

On August 30th, the Executive Committee responded, informing us that they would not endorse the statement because it did not fall under the purview of their Advocacy Policy. The decision was reached exclusively by the Executive Committee without consulting the entire ASEEES board. The ASEEES Advocacy Policy states:
“ASEEES is committed as an organization to advocate and register its collective concern in matters regarding:

academic freedom in our field, whether these target individuals or institutions;
the threatened elimination or reduction of resources and/or institutions that are of importance to our field.”

We believe that this matter absolutely falls under the purview of the ASEEES Advocacy Policy for the following reasons:

Academic Freedom – Scholars who have spoken out against white supremacist appropriation of their regions or fields of study are now working under fear of harassment and the threat of intimidation. It is a known strategy for white supremacists to smear targets to their employers, and we need our scholarly association to be taking an unequivocal stand in support of critical research on race and nationalism in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

Resource Preservation – We consider the scholars in our community, many of whom represent populations that have been directly “threatened” with “elimination” by white supremacists, “resources” important “to our field.” Several such scholars have indicated that they are planning to boycott the 2017 ASEEES Convention should ASEEES not endorse the August 21st statement.

While the executive committee of ASEEES has failed to endorse our Statement on Charlottesville, the authors and signatories believe it is imperative to vociferously condemn white supremacy and take up the ethical role of scholars and educators of Slavic, East European and Eurasian studies in our current political climate. The refusal to endorse this call to action suggests that this organization is blind to the intensity with which racism, fascism and bigotry are currently operating inside and outside of ASEEES and how immediately these forces are affecting some in our constituency.

The signatories of this letter call on ASEEES to endorse the August 21st statement that was composed by the boards of Q*ASEEES and ADSEEES.

For further information and to sign the open letter, follow the link at the top of the page.