British Universities Siberian Studies Seminar

Annals and an Appeal

in Sibirica
Alan Wood

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Older readers of Sibirica will recall (though more recent subscribers may not know) that this journal had its origins as a newsletter and report of the proceedings and papers delivered at the early conferences of the British Universities Siberian Studies Seminar (BUSSS). In September 1981, at my invitation, a dozen or so English and Scottish academics assembled for a weekend meeting at Lancaster University, UK, to present informal papers and discuss our mutual—but as yet uncoordinated—interest in Siberia, the Russian North, and Far East. (Small beginnings, but remember that there were only twelve apostles, and a mere nine delegates at the first meeting of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party—the future CPSU—in Minsk in 1898. There was even a brief report of our meeting in the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, under the headline “No Salt Mines in Siberia!”) Among the participants was the eminent Arctic geographer, the late Dr. Terence Armstrong of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, who offered to host a second meeting of the group at his own institution. This duly took place in April 1983, and was attended by 26 scholars, not only from Britain, but also from France, Germany, Japan, and the United States. Four papers were read, including one by Violet Connelly, the eighty-two-year-old doyenne of modern Siberian studies in the West. The papers were subsequently published in samizdat format by the now defunct Department of Russian and Soviet Studies at Lancaster University, and it is that pamphlet that may be properly regarded as the very first issue of Sibirica.

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