Why do women in Russia and Ukraine seek American husbands? What does it take to be a good host in Armenia? How does Nescafe make homeless Romanians feel like they belong?
In this course, we will use artistic, ethnographic, and historical accounts of love, hospitality, and belonging to guide our inquiry into the practices, worldviews, expectations, and disappointments of the people (and peoples) who live between Europe and Asia. The societies commonly understood to be located “between” Europe and Asia are not quite at home in one or the other, neither “East” nor “West,” and sometimes described by both outside observers and native inhabitants as combining the best (or the worst) elements of both. “Eurasia,” the term frequently used to describe this world area, is fittingly ambivalent; it manages to evoke both continents and yet entails location in neither. In its academic and popular usages, Eurasia is frequently shorthand for the countries of the former Soviet Union and adjacent areas such as Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Turkey.
Throughout the course, we will discuss how accounts of love, hospitality, and belonging can serve to give us insights into unfamiliar modes of being and unexpected actions, while also making our own notions of the familiar suddenly seem strange.