Jeremy Tasch

Associate Professor of Global and Eurasian Studies, Townson University

When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies?

I fell into Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies quite by accident in high school. Faced with a Spanish teacher more clearly interested in being somewhere other than in the classroom, I was inspired to speak with my guidance counselor. My counselor quite presciently advised, “If you are interested in learning a language that can only become increasingly important with an instructor who cares, than why not try Russian?” I have been “trying Russian” ever since, including studies, research, and employment in European Russia, Siberia, the Russian Far East, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Even with opportunities to study art history in Rome, and then energy and development in Norway, I still was drawn to the challenge to keep “trying Russian,” which is what brought me for the first time to Western Siberia as a graduate student, followed then by a couple years in the Russian Far East.

What is your current research/ work project?

Long before climate change was widely accepted, Gorbachev said that the Arctic is “the place where the Euroasian, North American and Asian Pacific regions meet, where the frontiers come close to one another and the interests of states belonging to mutually opposed military blocs and nonaligned ones cross.” As climate change promises new sources of mineral wealth and energy, and new transportation routes, interested parties from both within and beyond the circumpolar north are pursuing their visions for the Arctic. Contesting the Arctic CoverMy new co-authored book, Contesting the Arctic:  Politics and Imaginaries in the Circumpolar North, draws from interviews with over 150 representatives of indigenous peoples groups, environmental and civil society organizations, and members of governments and businesses throughout the circumpolar north, to understand how northern stakeholders are seeking to reproduce, modify, challenge – or simply disregard – the state-focused norms of contemporary global politics.

What do you value about your ASEEES membership?

My diverse interests have led me to a number of dynamic places and given me many unusual experiences. What I have found, however, through my membership with ASEEES are colleagues whose equally (and in many cases more) vibrant experiences, scholarly interests, and academic studies inspire me to keep learning, and to look for even more opportunities to keep “trying Russian.”

Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?

As a geographer, I study “space.” But ever since I became friends with a retired Russian watchmaker in Vladivostok, I have appreciated “time,” in the form of pocket watches.  I prefer to say “appreciate,” although now that I have approximately 200 pocket watches, I imagine “obsessed” could be used with equal accuracy.