Congratulations to Ian Helfant, professor of Russian and Eurasian studies and environmental studies, who recently gave the keynote address at the Midwest Slavic Conference. His talk, titled, “Looking Across Species in the Anthropocene: Carnivores and Compassion,” connected Prof. Helfant’s interests in Russian history and literature, inter-species studies, and the global crisis of massive species extinction. Check out Prof. Helfant’s recent book on wolves in 19th century Russia, and see below for an abstract of his keynote lecture.
“Looking Across Species in the Anthropocene: Carnivores and Compassion“
As we bear witness to the sixth extinction, the perspectives and insights of earlier eras provide sources of comparison and opportunities for reflection. Imperial Russia’s attempts to eradicate its wolf populations diverge from modern attitudes toward large carnivores in the post-Soviet space and beyond, but also overlap in significant ways. Focusing especially upon the human gaze and the ways in which we choose to look (and look away), I will utilize examples ranging from the Amur tiger, to the elusive snow leopard, to the polar bears who have encroached upon the remote Arctic Russian town of Ryrkaypiy, to explore the tensions and elisions in our ways of looking at animals and accepting our responsibility for their fates.