Highlights from the 2014 Australasian Conference
The AABS Australasian Chapter 17th Conference took place at Monash University, Melbourne on October 4, 2014 in conjunction with the Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies. The theme of the conference was “New tensions in and around the Baltic Sea region.” As this theme suggests, there was a special focus on the recent political developments in the region, the Ukraine in particular, and what the implications of these events for the Baltic states might be. There were two other main streams at the conference: one focusing on Baltic cultures and societies from a comparative perspective, the other on studies in Baltic languages, linguistics, and literatures.
Attendance among non-delegates was modest and the conference was somewhat of an intimate occasion. The presentation topics flowed smoothly from one to the next, and there was a general sense of strength of culture and also of emotion as well as the significance of comparative perspectives, which served to give to weight the notion of our continued relevance as Baltic scholars to academia and social and political life. The importance of this is patent in contemporary Australia with our multicultural society but recent ethnic tensions, and in the Baltic states with the continued project of bringing together the divided societies left by the Soviet legacy in the context of the pressure exerted by ongoing Russian political aggression.