During the first half of the roundtable discussion, Dr. Blauvelt emphasized the inherent problem posed by pursuing scholarship as a profession in the South Caucasus. He elaborated on the difficulty of pursuing scholarship as a full-time avocation, and he expressed the important role social science scholarship plays in challenging the myths, prejudices, and assumptions in today’s society. The conference audience of more than 100 participants included local and visiting scholars, diplomats, and graduate students. During an interactive discussion in the second half of the conference, participants raised the issues of think tank and university funding, political biases and influence, and the importance of studying abroad for local scholars living in the South Caucasus.
On the second day of the conference, Dr. Blauvelt served as co-moderator and speaker along with Professor Alexander Aganjanian, Professor of Religious Studies at the Russian State University of the Humanities (Moscow). Dr. Blauvelt and Dr. Aganjanian led a daylong panel on “National Identity, Minorities, Religious and Cultural Capital.” This panel included presentations on the role of the Orthodox Church in the formation of Georgian national identity, intermarriage and identity in Georgia, public ceremonies in Azerbaijan, and perceptions of Nagorno-Karabakh among Armenian citizens and elites.
The ASCN conference brings scholars and researchers together each year who are involved in various disciplines of social science in the South Caucasus. More specifically, the conference provides opportunities for researchers vested in the countries that comprise the South Caucasus to engage, network, and share their research projects, papers, and findings. ASCN strives to foster a new generation of scholars who will make important contributions to the South Caucasus. These countries have been particularly affected by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and strategic efforts are continually being made to improve their political and socio-economic conditions. Improvement efforts include ongoing research in the following areas: protection of minorities, good governance, state building, identities, nation building, and ethnicity.
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