Joint ESCAS-CESS Conference at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) 2017

29 June – 2 July 2017 European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS) and the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS)

The European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS) and the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) conducted the Joint ESCAS-CESS Conference in Bishkek at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA).  This was the 15th Biennial Conference of ESCAS, and the Sixth Regional Conference of CESS.  The conference was hosted by AUCA’s Central Asian Studies Institute (CASI).

We had a tremendous response to the Call for Papers — the largest number ever received for an ESCAS Conference or a CESS Regional Conference.  In response to the high level of interest, our hosts at the American University of Central Asia undertook to expand the overall size of the conference — we are grateful to the Central Asian Studies Institute at AUCA for welcoming so many people!  The total number at the conference was about 450, making this one of the largest CESS conferences on record and the largest-ever ESCAS conference and largest international conference on Central Asian/Eurasian studies to be held within the region.

There were nearly 100 panels in twelve sessions extending from Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning, with nearly 400 scholars on the program altogether. The conference featured two keynote speeches: Gulnara Aitpaeva (Director, Aigine Cultural Research Center, Bishkek) will speak on “Sacred Geography and Power Relations in Contemporary Kyrgyzstan”. Paolo Sartori (Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Iranian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna) will speak on “The Secular that Never Was: Untangling the Meaning of Islam in Soviet Central Asia”.

Tian-shan meimankanasy

Sponsoring Associations

European Society for Central Asian Society

The European Society for Central Asian Society (ESCAS) began in 1985 with a small conference at Utrecht University and has continued since with biennial conferences in a dozen European cities and more recently, in Astana, Kazakhstan, as well.  Its focus is on building scholarly links and support between Europe and Central Asia.  For more information, see:

Central Eurasian Studies Society

The Central Eurasian Studies Society was founded in North America in 2000 with the aim of promoting scholarship on the Central Eurasian region and fostering communication among scholars of the region throughout the world.  CESS holds an annual conference hosted each year by a North American university, and since 2008, has held a biennial conference in countries of Central Eurasia. For more information, see:

Conference Committee of the Joint CESS-ESCAS Conference at AUCA

The members of the committee were as follows: John Schoeberlein, Chair of the Joint Program Committee (CESS Past President; ESCAS President; Nazarbayev Univ., Kazakhstan) CASI/AUCA (Bishkek) Svetlana Jacquesson (Director of CASI/AUCA; ESCAS Board member) Aida Konokbaeva (CASI/AUCA) Christopher Baker (CASI/AUCA) Emil Juraev (AUCA) Emil Nasritdinov (AUCA) Mohira Suyarkulova (CASI/AUCA) CESS Timothy Blauvelt (CESS Conference Committee Chair; Ilia University, Georgia) Leila Almazova (CESS Board member; Kazan Federal Univ., Russian Federation) Aksana Ismailbekova (CESS Board member; Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany) Marianne Kamp (CESS; Indiana Univ. Bloomington, USA) Marlene Laruelle (CESS Board member; George Washington Univ., USA) Scott Levi (CESS; Ohio State University, USA) Jennifer Murtazashvili (CESS Board member; Univ. of Pittsburgh, USA) David Pierce (CESS; Independent Scholar, USA) ESCAS Alexander Morrison (ESCAS; Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan) Beatrice Penati (ESCAS Vice-President; Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan) Catherine Poujol (ESCAS; French Institute for Central Asian Studies, Bishkek) Dina Sharipova (ESCAS Secretary; KIMEP University, Kazakhstan) Cholpon Turdalieva (ESCAS; American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyz Republic) Qahramon Yakubov (Institute of History, Uzbekistan) 

Conference Participation

[The information below is offered for reference.  Similar information will be provided for future regional conferences.]

Participants are responsible for covering the costs of their own travel and stay in Bishkek, and are responsible for making their own arrangements.  The host institution will provide a list of hotels where rooms at discounted rates will be available for conference participants.  For most relevant countries, the Kyrgyz Republic provides visa-free entry to the country for limited (but sufficient) periods.  The host institution will provide visa support to those accepted for inclusion in the conference program if they are from a country for which a visa to the Kyrgyz Republic is required.  For details about all such logistical matters, see the AUCA conference website (after acceptance notifications have been sent in March 2017):

Membership Requirement

All of those who are included in a panel for the conference program (paper presenter, roundtable panelist, discussant, etc.) are required to have current membership in either CESS or ESCAS.  The schedules of membership and registration fees follow.  Please see the following page links for details on how to ensure you have current membership:ESCAS CESS

About the Central Asian Studies Institute, the American University of Central Asia, and Bishkek

The conference was hosted by the Central Asian Studies Institute (CASI) established at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in 2011 with the mission of promoting the study of Central Asia locally and internationally.  The Institute pursues this goal by encouraging and supporting individual and group research projects, organizing seminars and conferences, and by developing academic programs focused on Central Asia.  AUCA is an international, multi-disciplinary learning community in the American liberal arts tradition.  Since its foundation in 1993, the University has proven its distinctiveness by encouraging and maintaining intellectual freedom and critical thinking.  Capitalizing on its location and on its international faculty and student bodies, AUCA is determined to become the best teaching and research university in the region and a center of excellence in research on Central Asia with an increasing presence of international scholars and graduate students.

Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, lies at the northern edge of the Ala-Too Mountain Range at an altitude of 700-900 m above sea level.  Bishkek is at once a gateway to the Tien Shan Mountains, a former trading post along the Silk Road, a legacy of the Soviet Union, and a developing city in a globalized world.  Bishkek offers numerous green spaces, parks and gardens as well as plenty of entertainment, from museums showcasing national history and culture to a wide range of art galleries, eating places and music halls promoting diversity and cosmopolitanism.  There is no subway in Bishkek but low-priced taxis and marshrutkas make transport an adventure in itself.

Schedule of Key Dates

7 February 2017Deadline for ProposalsProposals received after this date may be considered only at the discretion of the Program Committee.
28 February 2017Notification of selection resultsThe Program Committee will notify you of whether you have been accepted by email.
8 April 2017Cut-off date for notification of withdrawal“No Shows” will be penalized with exclusion from future conferences.
22 April 2017Preliminary Program will be availableProgram will be posted on the ESCAS and CESS (regional conference) websites.
6 May 2017Deadline for payment of Registration and Membership Fees Also: End of Reduced-Fee RegistrationParticipants who do not have a bank card or other method by which to pay in advance must notify us by this date and must pay at the conference registration desk on arrival.
31 May 2017Deadline for submission of changes to the Conference ProgramChanges occurring after this date may not be reflected in the published program.
7 June 2017Announcement of Final ProgramProgram will be posted on the ESCAS and CESS (regional conference) websites.
10 June 2017Deadline for sending papers to Discussant and ChairParticipants should send the full version of their working paper (see this page for guidance on papers/presentation).
26 June 2017Closing of online registrationThe online registration form will be inaccessible after this date (see the links above for CESS and ESCAS membership)
29 June-2 July 2017Conference datesThe first sessions will begin in the early afternoon on Thurs., June 29 and the last session will end in the late morning on Sun., July 2. Conference participants should not plan on arriving later or departing early unless such timing is conference with the Program Committee; there will also be cultural program on Sunday afternoon, July 2.

Contact Information

For detailed information about submitting proposals and about attending the conference, please see the following webpages:

ESCAS Conference page:

CESS Regional Conference page:

CESS Conference Guidelines:


See the website of the conference at AUCA for all logistical and local organizing information:

For inquiries regarding Bishkek/AUCA and logistics for participation, the contact address was the Central Asian Studies Institute at AUCA 

Call for Paper and Panel Proposals

[NOTE: The Call for Papers is presented here for reference only; the Call has already been closed for this year’s conference, though we hope you will consider applying for future conferences.]

The conference committee invites submissions of panel and paper topics relating to all aspects of the humanities and social science.  The region that is covered by the conference — Central Asia/Eurasia — encompasses Central Asia, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, Tibet, Mongolia, Siberia, the Volga region, and regions referred to as Inner Asia or Central Eurasia.  We hope that the conference in Bishkek will bring together scholars from all over the world.  Based on the experience of previous conferences, we are expecting about 250 participants, including many from the region that is the focus of the conference.  Practitioners and scholars in all fields with an interest in this region are encouraged to participate. The deadline for both Panel and Paper submissions was Tuesday, 7 February 2017. Each panel or paper submission will be assessed by reviewers with relevant expertise, and we will send notifications of acceptance by Tuesday, February 28.

Successful proposals should show original research, as well as relevance current scholar on the region.  The proposal should give a clear statement of the problem investigated, the methods and sources/data used, and the conclusions and contribution to the field that will be offered (general conference guidelines can be found here; also see this link for guidelines on writing abstracts, which is the most important part of proposals).

Pre-organized Panel Proposal Submissions

Submission of Pre-organized Panels is strongly encouraged and they will be given some priority in the selection process.  They often make for the best conference experience, while also improving your chances of passing the selection.  We strongly encourage you to take the initiative to gather some colleagues with whom you would like to share your ideas and research results for feedback, and put together a panel proposal.  If you are looking for colleagues to make up a panel on a theme that you propose, we encourage you to use the CESS Facebook Group or other similar media to invite others to join on your topic.  Pre-organized Panels can include conventional paper-presentation panels, roundtables, workshops or other formats.  We also welcome panels that address current issues in scholarship, society and the application of knowledge in the form of roundtables, workshops, and other innovative formats.

Please note that the person submitting a Pre-organized Panel must provide information about each panelist on their panel (name, affiliation, job title, highest academic degree, email address, webpage, and membership status).  For Regular Panels (with paper presentations), the organizer should upload a file for each of the presenters with name(s) of author(s), paper title, abstract and keywords.  Panel submissions lacking individual abstracts or other key information will not be considered complete, and may not receive full consideration by the Program Committee.  Panels that lack a Chair or Discussant may be considered, but the strongest consideration will be given to compete panels. The make-up of a complete Pre-organized Panel depends on its type:

  1. Regular Panel: three or four Paper Presenters, a Discussant and a Chair;
  1. Roundtable Panel: a Chair/Moderator and normally three-to-five Presenters (who do not present papers, but rather make comments on the theme of the roundtable);
  1. Workshop Panel: a Chair/Moderator and a suitable number of panelists (typical workshops can address issues of publishing, fieldwork, ethics, applying academic knowledge to social problems, and the like);
  1. Book Panel (Author-Critic Forum): a Chair, the book’s author, and ca. three commentators;
  2. Other innovative panel formats: it is up to you to provide a rationale for the format and composition of panelists.

Click here to submit a Pre-organized Panel Proposal.  [This form is now closed.] 

Individual Paper Proposal Submissions

Individual papers are also welcome (in English only) and will be assigned by the Program Committee to an appropriate panel with a chair and a discussant.Click here to submit an Individual Paper Proposal.  [This form is now closed.] The deadline for submission of Panel and Paper proposals was Tues., 7 February 2017.

Languages of the Conference

In the case of Pre-organized Panels, a panel may be designated as “English only”, “Russian only”, “Other language” or “Mixed English and Russian” (this will be reflected in the program).  We will consider panel proposals in languages other than English or Russian, but since this will inevitably make the potential audience much narrower, a strong case would have to be made for use of that language.  Those papers and panels that are to be presented in Russian or another language should be provided with an English versions of the title and participant info, in addition to information in the original language.  Meanwhile, only proposals where the abstracts and keywords are provided in English will be considered.  The original language information about the panel should be provided in a file attachment that you will upload on the application form (the form itself handles only Latin letters).

We will not accept individual paper proposals in a language other than English, and it is not permitted to present an individual paper with someone translating for you, with someone reading the paper on behalf of the author, or any other form other than the author’s presentation in English.  You can find an explanation of this and other policies on the page linked here.