The 15th Conference on Baltic Studies in Europe (CBSE) will be held on 15-17 June 2023 in Kaunas, Lithuania. Entitled “Turning Points: Values and Conflicting Futures in the Baltics,” CBSE 2023 will cover a diversity of themes and disciplines, and like the 14 previous editions, bring together scholars from all disciplines and stages in their careers worldwide who share an interest in exploring the Baltic region from multiple perspectives and fields of research.
To learn more about her plans and hopes for the conferences, and to pick up a few recommendations for attendees, AABS sat down with conference Chair Dr. Ineta Dabašinskienė. on June 6, 2023. The transcript of our conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Dr. Ineta Dabašinskienė is Professor of Linguistics at the Department of Lithuanian Studies and Head of the Research Centre for Multilingualism at Vytautas Magnus University. Her research interests include, but are not limited to language policy and multilingualism, monolingual and bilingual language acquisition, heritage language, language education, as well as grammar and pragmatics of spoken language. As an internationally recognized researcher, she has published and co-edited numerous research studies and a number of scholarly articles in Lithuanian and international scientific journals; Prof. Dabašinskienė is also a member of editorial boards of several national and international scientific journals, and participates in the activities of various scientific associations and professional organizations.
AABS: What was the impetus for “Turning Points,” the theme of this conference?
ID: It’s customary that topics for conferences on Baltic Studies, whether in America or Europe, are very broad because such conferences are supposed to be interdisciplinary. We tried hard to invite scholars to share their recent research from a wide area of humanities, arts, and social sciences. Moreover, we were happy to see the interest from scholars of environmental sciences. So, all these topics are usually on the horizon.
However, we are acutely aware that our region is experiencing dramatic geopolitical changes. Therefore, we wanted to emphasize the meaning of “Turning Points” metaphorically and directly, and the title of our conference developed into “Turning Points: Values and Conflicting Futures in the Baltics.”
The 15th Conference on Baltic Studies in Europe (CBSE) is an important event to mark. I want to point out that this is the first time the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS) has co-organized a conference on Baltic Studies in Europe. Embodying our close cooperation is an outstanding achievement – it has become a gratifying practice for European scholars to attend AABS conferences and vice versa. I am excited that these two groups of scholars will become closer and collaborate to put on conferences and support each other.
AABS: Absolutely! AABS is delighted to take on the co-organizing role for this conference. It’s something that’s been in the works for quite some time, and it’s wonderful to see it come to fruition and to solidify those transatlantic bonds in particular. Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to with the conference?
ID: Definitely. The three-day intensive program will feature more than 100 panels. We’ll also have eight roundtable discussions and eight book presentations, some of them on broad-spectrum topics. We all look forward to two plenary talks and additional events, including exhibitions, film screenings, a concert, and, let’s hope, enjoyable evening receptions. I do expect this conference to turn out exciting and engaging for the participants.
No doubt, we are all waking up to the news about the brutal war in Ukraine, and this morning we were shocked by the destruction of a Ukrainian dam. Ukraine will be extensively highlighted in the conference and will receive the most attention. It will be visible in many panels, both plenary talks and roundtable discussions. Such is our life. The current situation is unstable, and we look forward to hearing what our colleagues have to say about what the future has in store for us and what changes might ensue.
AABS: It will be a good thing to have this focus on Ukraine, given the impact of Russia’s aggression on the Baltic region as well and the consequences for all of us as people.
ID: I’d like to mention that we’ll have a film screening and discussion on Mariupolis 2 by Mantas Kvedaravičius, a famous Lithuanian producer who, tragically, was killed by Russian aggressors in Ukraine. It’s a documentary about the war in Ukraine, focusing on everyday life in the city of Mariupol, a city that has been gradually destroyed. We’ll be waiting for the conference participants to come and watch it.
AABS: Do you have any messages, advice, or tips for conference attendees? There’s already an interdisciplinary spirit to Baltic Studies, with people attending all sorts of different panels and learning from across disciplines in the field, but is there anything you’d recommend that participants do?
ID: Indeed, yes! Last year, Kaunas had the honor of acting as the European Capital of Culture. It was full of culture, and this cultural aura has remained. I expect this fact to be an inspiration for participants to look around Kaunas and enjoy academic and cultural activities. Furthermore, we eagerly look forward to meeting the participants – already next week!
AABS: It’s coming up so soon! Thank you for talking with us – we’ll let you get back to conference planning.