2009 Lincoln Conference
The United States celebrated the bicentennial of its 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, this February. Museum exhibits, plays, essay contests, film showings, conferences and even fashion shows in the name of Lincoln were organized across the United States to honor one of America’s most influential historical figures. While Lincoln is often a primary focus in history lessons and discussions concerning the U.S. Civil War, he is not often analyzed in a broader global context. On February 18-19, the Russian State University for the Humanities hosted a conference to increase international research cooperation between Russian and American Lincoln scholars. The scholars were able to share their research with a wide range of experts from several disciplines including: history, philology, law, economics, and art history.
The plenary session opened with an address from Efim I. Pivovar, the President of the Russian State University for the Humanities and was followed by a speech from John Beyrle, the United States Ambassador to Russia. The Ambassador highlighted the parallels between Abraham Lincoln and the recently inaugurated US President, Barak Obama. Ambassador Beyrle made special note of the common interest of Lincoln and Obama to achieve peace among nations.
Fulbright Director, Anthony Koliha, drew historical comparisons in his speech between President Lincoln’s emancipation of the slaves in 1865 and the slightly earlier freeing of Russia’s serfs by Tsar Alexander II. He then noted that “a detailed study of these two subjects will show many unique qualities that challenge simple comparisons between the two events, however close they may appear in historical timing and outward appearance. However … as the Director of the Fulbright Program, I mention these historical comparisons, because I believe that they illustrate the importance of international exchange in allowing us to ask such questions in the first place.”
The Fulbright Program has had a long history of cooperation with the Russian State University for the Humanities; over 20 Russian lecturers and researchers from RSUH, including the University’s President, E.I. Pivovar, have been awarded Fulbright Fellowships. Additionally, dozens of American scholars and students have been affiliated with RSUH during their time in Russia as Fulbright Fellows.
After the opening session Mia Grosjean, granddaughter of Ambassador Davies who was the second US Ambassador to the Soviet Union, gave Ambassador Beyrle a tour of her photo exhibition at the Russian State University for the Humanities. The photo exhibit was put together for the 75th anniversary of Spaso House, the Ambassador’s residence and was comprised of photos her mother, Emlen Knight Davies, took while living at Spaso House in 1937-1938. A week prior to the conference at the gallery opening, Anthony Koliha, Director of the Fulbright Program in Russia, Rebecca Dash, Fulbright Program Officer, and Ivan Kurilla, Fulbright Alumnus were given a private tour of the gallery by Mrs. Grosjean.
Mia Grosjean, Maria L'vova, Anthony Koliha
Mia Grosjean, Anthony Koliha, Rebecca Dash, Ivan Kurilla