Shifting Grounds:Changing Models of Nature in the Former Soviet Sphere

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Brian Yang/ University of Illinois at Urbana-Chmpaign
contact email: 

The Slavic Graduate Students Association (SGSA) in conjunction with the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign invites submissions of presentation proposals from scholars across disciplines to this year’s conference, titled “Shifting Grounds: Changing Models of Nature in the Former Soviet Sphere.” This interdisciplinary conference is intended to explore the movement of disparate models of nature as they circulate through and coalesce into larger ideas about Post-Soviet and Eurasian existence.

Political models of nature found in Soviet ecology hold continued relevance in our current age: any study of Eurasian histories or culture reveals itself as cut through by long environmental and geographic shifts—the plainest example being the pairing of colonization and conquest with large-scale terraforming projects. In the early days of the Soviet Union, a nascent public ecological consciousness allowed for the development of environmental conservation laws as early as 1928. Just a decade later, geologist Vladimir Vernadsky would popularize the concept of the noosphere in natural science, theorizing the mutual relationship between human cognition and earth’s systems as a “sphere of reason” in his seminal work Scientific Thought as a Planetary Phenomenon. Presently, environmental activism is once again resurgent in the FSU. The emergence of grassroot protest groups and interregional “green coalitions,” has heightened public awareness regarding regional inequalities, with emphasis being placed on the continued exploitation of indigenous lands by governmental and corporate interests. As climate change and environmental injustice takes a toll on Northern indigenous populations, how can we synthesize these historical threads and point towards new models of Post-Soviet ecologies?

Relevant topics might include:

● Histories of Soviet terraforming and environmental policies

● Indigenous ecologies
● Climate fictions and the production of history
● Ecological and cultural conflicts of green industrialization

● National identity in the Anthropocene

● Histories and legacies of science and technology in the Soviet Union

● Climate change and human geography in the FSU
● Environmentally induced labour movement and migration
● Reconciliation of theory and practice in historical and contemporary ecological conservation

● Literary representations of nonhuman timescales and ecological collapse

● Eschatological climate language and its political uses
● Environmental heritage and fictions of state

If you would like to participate, please submit an abstract (up to 350 words) and the title of your paper to ( Some funding for participants traveling from other universities may be available. Please include your name, email address, institutional affiliation, year, major area of study, any audiovisual equipment requests, and whether you are interested in funding for travel expenses at the top of the page. The deadline for submitting abstracts is February 15th, 2022. Participants will be notified by February 28th. The Conference will take place April 15-16, 2022.