Events Calendar

Lifting the Resource Curse in the South Caspian
Feb 26 @ 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

with Sonia Zilberman

The South Caspian’s rich oil and gas reserves attract a wide array of multinational companies and financiers. Poor governance of extractive industries in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan fuels violations of human rights and environmental degradation. However, innovative solutions at the local, national, and international levels can influence social and environmental accountability. In this presentation, Sonia Zilberman of Crude Accountability will discuss how multi-stakeholder, data driven methodology can shape the dialogue on environmental justice and human rights in the extractive industries; showing how innovative approaches strengthen industry governance in the Caspian region.

Sonia Zilberman is the Director for South Caspian Energy and Environment at Crude Accountability, a US-based NGO that partners with communities in the Caspian region. Prior to joining Crude Accountability, she worked at CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation; and previously worked at The Bank Information Center, promoting Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the context of extractive industries in Russia. She has also held positions with The Nature Conservancy, and IUCN-The World Conservation Union. Sonia holds an MA in International Development Studies, and BAs in International Affairs from GWU. 

The Hungry Steppe Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan
Feb 28 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

with author Sarah Cameron

The Hungry Steppe examines one of the most heinous crimes of the Stalinist regime, the Kazakh famine of 1 930–33. More than 1 .5 million people perished in this famine, a quarter of Kazakhstan’s population, and the crisis transformed a territory the size of continental Europe. Yet the story of this famine has remained mostly hidden from view. Drawing upon state and Communist party documents, as well as oral history and memoir accounts in Russian and in Kazakh, Sarah Cameron reveals this brutal story and its devastating consequences for Kazakh society. Through the most violent of means the Kazakh famine created Soviet Kazakhstan, stable territory with clearly delineated boundaries, forging a new Kazakh national identity. However this state-driven modernization project was uneven, neither Kazakhstan nor Kazakhs themselves were integrated into the Soviet system in the way s Moscow had hoped. The experience of the famine scarred the republic for the remainder of the Soviet era and shaped its transformation into an independent nation in 1991.


Sarah Cameron is assistant professor of history at the University of Mary land, College Park, where she offers courses on Soviet history and the history of modern Central Asia. She received her PhD from Yale University, where her dissertation won the John Addison Porter Prize for the best dissertation in the Arts and Sciences and the Turner Prize for the most outstanding dissertation in European History. At present, she is at work on a new book-length project examining the transformation of the Aral Sea basin over the Soviet era.