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Central Eurasian Studies Colloquium Fall 2014

On Wednesday, October, 8, 2014, Dr. Christopher I. Beckwith gave the first talk in the Central Eurasian Colloquium's 2014-2015 series, entitled "Tokharian and Indic Influence on Rulership Ideology in the First Türk Empire: The Meaning of Arsilas ("Ashina") and Türkwac in Context." In his talk, Dr. Beckwith discussed some of the proposed meanings of titles of Türk nobility. In particular, he focused on the meaning of "Ashina," the Chinese title or epithet of the ruling family of the Türk, which he argued transcribes Arsilas and is of Tokharian origin. The rest of the talk focused on how these titles were used by the Türk rulers, and how they fit in with broader Central Eurasian imperial ideology. Dr. Beckwith is a professor in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies.

The second talk in the Colloquium, by Dr. Kathryn Graber, an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Central Eurasian Studies was given on Monday, November 17 2014. Dr. Graber’s talk, “Here Be Dragons: Charting an Interdisciplinary Approach to Ethnolinguistic Categories” discussed her research on the role of Orthodox missionaries in defining Buriat as an ethnolinguistic category.

Dr. Graber also described the process and difficulties in co-writing and publishing an interdisciplinary article on her research. Her article, which was co-written with a historian, Dr. Jesse Murray, was subject to an unusually long process of review and editing because reviewers were unclear of whether to treat the article as a work of history or linguistic anthropology. The talk concluded with an engaging discussion with the audience about the prospect of interdisciplinary collaboration in their own work, and the difficulties of producing a truly interdisciplinary work.

The final talk of the semester was given by Tóth-Czifra Erzsébet who is in the Cultural Linguistics Doctoral Research Programme, Eotvos Lorand University and the Department for Hungarian as a Second Language, ELTE, Budapest on Monday, December 1st 2014. Tóth-Czifra Erzsébet’s talk, “Hungarian: Myths, Facts, and Cognitive Linguistics?” discussed and dispelled a number of myths about Hungarian. She argued against the commonly repeated notion of Hungarian as a totally alien and impossible language for non-natives, particularly English speakers, to learn. She highlighted one particularly difficult aspect of Hungarian, prefixes, and argued that teaching the meaning behind the metaphor of various constructions using cultural linguistics can reveal similarities with students' own language, and increase understanding and ease of learning. 

The newly revived Central Eurasian Colloquium will continue in the spring. Scholars will be sharing their work from a variety of periods, disciplines, and areas in our region.