This month:
  • A tribute to the life and work of Alexander Rolich, respected bibliographer. 
  • CREECA faculty weigh in on the ever-changing and volatile political crisis in Ukraine. 
  • The last date to apply for CESSI is April 21! Get your applications in!
  • Updates from the CREECA Community.
  • Upcoming CREECA lectures.
  • How to connect with CREECA.

                                     April 15, 2014


Alexander Rolich, Noted UW-Madison Bibliographer, Dies at Age 90

On March 23, 2014, Mr. Alexander Rolich passed away at 90 years of age. Mr. Rolich served as the Bibliographer for Slavic, East European, and Central Asian Studies at UW-Madison's Memorial Library for 37 years. 

What follows is a tribute to Mr. Rolich by David Henige, African and Middle Eastern Librarian (Retired), and Mr. Andy Spencer, Slavic, East European, Middle Eastern & Central Asian Studies Librarian, Memorial Library. Mr. Henige knew Mr. Rolich for over 25 years.

We thank Mr. Henige and Mr. Spencer for their efforts in helping us highlight the life and career of an individual who contributed so much to the field of Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies.

Alex Rolich began with the UW-Madison General Library System in 1964 and remained until his retirement in 2001.  Starting as the Slavic Bibliographer, his position evolved into the Bibliographer for Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Alex was one of the first Area Studies bibliographers to be hired at UW-Madison in the halcyon period of the early 1960’s when Area Studies was highly regarded and well-funded by various agencies both at the state and Federal levels.

As financial support for Areas Studies began to decline in the 1970’s Alex needed to find other means to help compensate for this decline in library acquisitions funding. Alex, who always saw his primary responsibility as acquiring and cataloging materials for use by the UW-Madison community and through Inter-Library Loan (ILL) to other institutions, turned to foreign book and serial exchange programs. Alex negotiated exchange agreements with many of the major national and university libraries of Eastern Europe. Indeed, if asked, Alex would probably have said that one of his greatest accomplishments as Slavic Bibliographer was his gradual implementation of a huge exchange program to acquire materials from his subject areas—materials, some of which never became part of a market economy and could therefore by acquired only through exchange. In this way UW-Madison campus libraries (the plural is required since Alex was generously in providing his time in acquiring materials for several libraries on campus) owns numerous materials not otherwise available in North America. At its height, Alex’s exchange program included over a hundred foreign exchange partners. Many of these exchange relationships continue to this day.

Alex was instrumental in establishing the Michael B. Petrovich Reading Room and its Eastern European reference collection, which occupies the perimeter of Room 212 in Memorial Library. Much of the core of the Petrovich Room collection was built as a result of  Alex’s negotiations to acquire the large personal library of Dr. Petrovich as well as the collection of Dr. J. Thomas Shaw.

Alex was also involved in bringing to light FBI surveillance of Russian speaking library users in the late 1980’s.  Alex was quoted in an April 9, 1988 article in “The Nation” regarding one incident of FBI surveillance in Memorial Library.

Mr. Rolich's obituary is available at and on the Gunderson Funeral Home website. Donations may be made to a fund set up for the purchase of Slavic print materials at the UW-Madison Memorial Library (UW Foundation-Alexander Rolich Memorial Fund; US Bank Lockbox 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278). Condolences may be conveyed online at
(Image: Mr. Alexander Rolich Source: Gunderson Funeral Home website)


The Puzzle of the First Play on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: Stefan Otwinowski's Easter (1943)
Thursday, April 17, 2014 

4pm, 206 Ingraham Hall
Halina Filipowicz  teaches in the Department of Slavic languages and Literature and is affiliated with the Department of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published widely on comparative drama, feminism, and Polish literary and cultural history. 


More from the CREECA Lecture Series:

(All lectures are held at 4pm in 206 Ingraham Hall, unless otherwise noted)
Thursday, March 27, 2014

Strategic Litigation: Bringing the European Convention for Human Rights to Russia

Anton Burkov, Galina Staravoitova Fellow, Kennan Institute


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Blending Bessarabia: Winemaking in the Late-Tsarist Russia and the Ambivalence of Modernity

Stephen Bittner, Sonoma State University

Other Campus Events

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Russia as a Revisionist Power"
Christian Caryl, Senior Fellow at Legatum Institute in London and Contributing Editor to Foreign Policy Magazine
4pm, 5055 Vilas Hall
Sponsors: Wisconsin Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy, School of Journalism, CREECA

Friday May 2, 2014

"Lithuania--Start-up Nation"
Hon. Žygimantas Pavilionis, Ambassador of Lithuania to the United States
Reception to follow
4pm, 313 Pyle Center
Sponsors: CREECA, Madison Vilnius Sister Cities, The European Union Center of Excellence (EUCE)


For a full list of events for each month, please visit:


Updates from the CREECA Community

Faculty and Academic Staff
Scott Gehlbach (Political Science) published an op-ed piece titled "A Way Forward for Ukraine" in The New York Times.

Francine Hirsch (History) was awarded an ACLS Fellowship to publish her new book "Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A Cold War Story."

Andrew Kydd (Political Science) published two articles on Political Violence @ a Glance, an academic blog dedicated to providing expert analyses on violent situations around the world. The articles, titled "What's Putin Up To?" and "Boarding Up Windows of Opportunity in Ukraine"explore Putin's political motivations and the future of Ukraine.

Ewa Miernowska (Slavic) won the L&S Academic Staff Mid-Career Achievement Award. The award is in recognition of individuals who "demonstrate outstanding performance in their position, show substantial promise of future contributions, and demonstrate a high degree of professionalism."

Honorary Fellow Heather Sonntag curated two photography exhibits this month.  "Native Lands" at the National Museum of Art in Almaty, Kazakhstan was commissioned by the U.S. Consulate in Almaty. The opening was attended by Ambassador John Ordway as well as U.S. Consul General Theresa Grencik and Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Biswal; after April 30th, the photography exhibition will be on permanent display at the Consulate in Almaty, the Embassy in Astana, and six American Corners in Kazakhstan. A second exhibit was installed at Carleton College, hosted by Professor Adeeb Khalid. Both exhibits feature early photography of Central Asia and topics that Dr. Sonntag is currently researching for book projects. 

Nicole Butkovich Kraus (Sociology) will begin her new position as Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University-Newark in the fall. 

Be sure to check our blog, 
'CREECA Jobs and Funding Resources'
where we post, and regularly update, a variety of opportunities.

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Perspectives on the Continuing Crisis in Ukraine

On March 10, 2014 CREECA faculty members Scott Gehlbach, Ted Gerber, Andrew Kydd, and David McDonald came together for a panel discussion moderated by director Yoshiko M. Herrera. The group gave social and political context to the emerging crisis in Ukraine and discussed the relations between Ukraine, Russia, the EU, and the United States. Since then, Crimea has voted for integration into Russia and Ukrainians in the eastern parts of the country have been calling for Russian troops to intervene. 
We present a virtual discussion with the panelists who share their thoughts  and perspectives on the continually changing and volatile situation in the region. 

Scott Gehlbach (Political Science): Russia's invasion of Crimea has created a geopolitical emergency out of what began as a domestic crisis. The roots of the crisis lie in Ukraine's highly centralized system of governance, which among other things gives the president rather than voters the right to choose regional governors. This creates a winner-takes-all system in which voters in the Russian-speaking East feel threatened by a president who represents the Ukrainian-speaking West, and vice versa. Thankfully, the key political principals in Ukraine have recognized the importance of decentralization, which has the potential to defuse the domestic political situation. Whether this is sufficient to discourage further Russian intervention remains to be seen.

Ted Gerber (Sociology): Russian civil society currently faces its gravest crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as pro-Kremlin forces within and outside the government are using the conflict with the West over Crimea and Ukraine as a pretext to close down media outlets, silence oppositional voices, and use the label of “traitor” to intimidate anyone who challenges the prevailing narrative in official sources.  Due to the near complete control of the Russian government over television and print media, many Russians only hear what the authorities want them to about the situation; therefore, they are inclined to believe such outright falsehoods as the claims that Ukraine has been taken over by “fascists,” the entire Maidan mobilization was orchestrated by the United States in order to undermine Russia, and the current Ukrainian leaders are pushing an extremist “anti-Russian” campaign.   The situation within Russia looks extremely bleak from the perspective of NGOs who work on political issues, journalists committed to the ideals of their profession, and university professors who cherish academic freedom and the right to express one’s views. 

Yoshiko M. Herrera (Political Science): One of the reasons it is difficult to understand what is happening, and what will happen in Ukraine, is because on both sides, but especially on the Russian side, there is a mixture of sincerely held beliefs, misinformation, and active deception. In terms of beliefs, many people in Russia sincerely think Crimea should be part of Russia, and that it is legitimate to bring it back to Russia.  There is also a belief among many in Russia that there was an implicit guarantee that NATO would not expand into the former Soviet states after 1991, and that the expansion of NATO to the Baltic states, and the plans to include Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, are aggressive anti-Russian actions. Overlaid on these beliefs is a misunderstanding of current politics in Ukraine because most Russians lack access to independent news sources. In addition to not really knowing what is happening in Ukraine, there is no real discussion within Russia of the implications of a military annexation of Crimea and the political and economic consequences for Russia, which will be borne by Russian citizens in the form of lower economic growth, higher interest rates, and reduced social, economic, and political interaction with the West.  Yet on top of that misunderstanding is the active manipulation by Russian officials, including the denials of Russian military activity in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.  Media in Russia are regularly reporting that the Ukrainian protesters are fascists and that ethnic Russians in Ukraine are being mistreated, even though there is little evidence of this and it's clear that the television media are under political control.  If we put these factors together, we see that the motivations on the Russian side are very mixed and hard to work with. If it were a matter of disagreement over beliefs, such as the expansion of NATO or the status of Crimea, one could imagine diplomatic discussions to resolve this, but in the context of aggressive military action by Russia and active deceit by political elites, that kind of discussion seems to be a non-starter. Unfortunately the situation in eastern Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea has gotten worse and the next few weeks will require skillful restraint on both sides, as well as international diplomacy, all of which seem to be in short supply.
Andrew Kydd (Political Science): Russia has consolidated its hold on Crimea and there appears to be no prospect of a withdrawal or even any negotiations on the subject in the foreseeable future.  Western countries are gradually imposing sanctions and it remains to be seen how severe they will be.  Meanwhile Russia is keeping the pot boiling by complaining about unpaid Ukrainian natural gas bills and sponsoring separatist agitators in Ukraine’s eastern provinces.  Russian armed forces remain mobilized and ready to move into Ukraine on 24 hours notice.  Ukraine appears desperate to retain control of the situation in the East without any incident that involves Russian casualties, which could serve as a pretext for invasion.   Analysts speculate that Russian motives in this case are to generate leverage over Ukraine but it is not clear what negotiations are going on, if any, in which leverage would be useful.  Also Russia will find it expensive to maintain its forces on alert indefinitely, so they will eventually face a choice between using them and demobilizing.  The situation remains tense.  

David McDonald (History): The situation unfolding in eastern Ukraine and Crimea involves three nested crises or challenges.  The first concerns the question of statehood and independence for Ukraine itself, arguably the only post-Soviet territory that has yet to construct a viable political order.  Crosscutting regional and generational divisions, exacerbated by the abuses of rival elites and widely differing historical experiences and aspirations, has led to a crisis in which the vibrant civil society that united to depose the Yanukovych regime has proven unable to forge a consensus on what form a viable Ukrainian state should take.  This crisis has been sharpened in turn by Russia's annexation of Crimea, exploiting the power vacuum created by Ukraine's political collapse and lack of allies committed to preserving its territorial integrity.  Finally, the Putin administration has taken advantage of the disarray to claim its return as a major power abroad and to rally an integral nationalism around the vision of a "Great Russia" against western "expansionism," along with calls for vigilance against "fifth columnists" and "foreign agents" at home.  The jury is still out as to how far the Russian government will want to press both lines of policy in the near future, given the new stress in economic and political relations with the United States and NATO.

CREECA is collecting and hosting community sourced articles and resources on Ukraine on our websitePlease send your entries to 
Please note that  CREECA is merely serving as an aggregator and the articles do not in any way reflect the opinions of the center. 


(Photo above: Ukraine Panel Discussion. L-R: Andrew Kydd, Scott Gehlbach, David McDonald, Ted Gerber and Yoshiko M. Herrera. Photo credit: CREECA//Maria Vishnevsky)

Last Day to Apply:
April 21!

Explore the languages and cultures of Central Eurasia this summer! From June 16-August 8, 2014 CESSI will offer courses in first and second-year Kazakh, Uyghur, and Uzbek. Students will also have the opportunity to attend talks and cultural events, as well as interact with resident and visiting faculty. Scheduling of classes is contingent upon enrollment.
Applications and information on financial aid can be found here.

If the Central Eurasian language you would like to take, or the level you would like to take, is not listed, please contact the CESSI program coordinator, Nancy Heingartner.

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