60th Meeting Székesfehérvár, 2017

Report on the 60th Meeting of the PIAC

by

Oliver Corff

Introduction

The 60th Meeting of the PIAC took place in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, lasting from August 27, 2017, to September 1, 2017. It was hosted by Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, under the presidency of Ákos Bertalan Apatóczky.

During the opening ceremony, speeches were given by the Secretary General, Barbara Kellner-Heinkele, followed by President of the 59th Meeting, Ramazan Korkmaz, president of Ardahan University, the host in 2016, followed by Judit Nagy, Vice Dean of Károli Gáspár University, and finally Ákos Bertalan Apatóczky who also gave a short overview of the PIAC history entitled “Prologue to the 60th Meeting of the PIAC”.

Then, the Secretary General read the names of the late scholars who had passed away since the last neeting, namely

  • Charles Roskelly Bawden (April 22, 1924 – August 11, 2016),
  • Igor de Rachewiltz (April 11, 1929 – July 30, 2016),
  • Hidehiro Okada (Jan 24, 1931 – May 25, 2017),
  • Gisaburo N. Kiyose (Jan. 25, 1931 – July 30, 2017),
  • Valentin I. Rassadin (Nov. 12, 1939 – August 15, 2017),
  • John Street (April 3, 1930 – August 6, 2017) and
  • Françoise Aubin (1932 – July 13, 2017).

A minute of silence was observed in honour of them.

The 60th anniversary of the PIAC marks the completion of one complete sexagenary cycle, considered an auspicious event indeed, inviting not only to reflect on the past, but also to look into the future. With this intention, the Secretary General invited Oliver Corff to inform the audience about a new bibliography “60 Years of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference (PIAC)”, a collection of the bibliographic references of more than 1,500 articles and abstracts having appeared in all PIAC proceedings published so far, and to inform the audience that a new PIAC medal, made of silver, has been designed and cast, with the intention that from now on, the PIAC is in a position to award its own prize, “The PIAC Prize For Altaic Studies”, in order to continue the distinguished tradition of Indiana University which had so generously offered the Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies for half a century, from 1963 to 2014.

The theme of this meeting, ideas behind symbols — languages behind scripts, was explored in three keynote speeches by Barbara Kellner-Heinkele (“Discovering Eurasian History in Müneccimbasi’s Chronicle”), Ágnes Birtalan (“The Divine Language in Mongolian Religious Texts”) and Oliver Corff (“Boundaries, Markers and Rivers: Their Scripts and Names in the Qing Shi Gao”).

41 of the 53 registered participants contributed to the Confessions, explaining what they have been working on in the recent past, or introducing themselves if they participated for the first time.

Deliberations

On August 29, The topic of the morning session was “Scripts, Writing Systems”, with presentations by Hülya Yildiz, Kyoko Maezono, B. Danka and K. Higuchi. Two parallel sessions followed, they were conducted on the “Geopolitical, Cultural and Linguistic Landscape” with papers by M. Dobrovits, M. Hasegawa, L. Abaeva, A. Campi, Y. Kobayashi and S. Dilek. The afternoon was dedicated to Altaic linguistics with contributions by Wu Yingzhe, Su-ying Hsiao, B. Khabtagaeva and Pavel Rykin, followed by another set of two parallel sessions with contributions by N. B. Erten, Ding Shiqing, Liu Ge, Guan Xinqiu, Chen Hao, M. Németh, A. Rákos and Magdolna Tatár.

On August 31, the morning session was dedicated to the Orxon, Khüis Tolgoi and Bugut inscriptions. Findings of their 2014 expedition to Mongolia were presented by Mehmet Ölmez, Dieter Maue, Alexander Vovin and E. de la Vaissière. After Mehmet Ölmez’ introduction, Dieter Maue reported on the sign and sound inventories of the Khüis Tolgoi inscriptions and gave an introduction to the para-Mongolian hypothesis. S. Vovin then presented his findings on the language, while E. de la Vaissière introduced his findings on the historical background of these inscriptions.

Later in the forenoon, two previous topics were resumed, namely “Scripts and Writing Systems” with contributions by Y. Park, Kao Hsiang-ta and Tana Wu and “Geopolitical, Cultural and Linguistic Landscape” with contributions by Kinga Szálkai and G. Sazak.

The afternoon session was dedicated to “Religions, Symbols and Ideas” (contributions by Ron Sela, Rodica Pop and Attila Mátéffy) followed by a view on the history of Altaic studies with contributions by H. Walravens, T. Anikeeva, Alice Crowther and Zemire Gulcali.

It is a remarkable fact that the whole meeting was conducted as outlined in the programme; hence the rapporteur limits himself to indicating the names of the contributors in each session.

Excursions: Székesfehérvár and Budapest

The PIAC members could enjoy two wonderful tours which together offered a very comprehensive impression of Hungary’s unique history and urban civilization. On the afternoon of the first day, the PIAC members had the priviledge to explore the ancient town of Székesfehérvár (in walking distance from the hotel and meeting place which was located in a beautiful park with an artificial lake) guided by one fellow PIAC member, Attila Rákos who happens to be a native of Székesfehérvár.

On Wednesday, August 30, the PIAC members embarked on a bus tour to Budapest; even though it was hot, the city presented itself from its most beautiful side, and our President, Ákos Bertalan Apatóczky, put himself in charge of explaining the city’s most important monuments.

Invitation to the 61st Meeting 2018 to Bishkek

A delegation from Kyrgyzstan presented their country, its capital Bishkek and a major cultural event, the World Nomad Games, to the audience, and invited the PIAC members for the 61st Annual Meeting to be held in Bishkek in summer 2018, together with the opportunity to watch the World Nomad Games.

Business Meeting

The business meeting saw a number of important discussions and motions, a short summary of which is presented here.

First, the president presented the possibility that the proceedings of the 60th Meeting could be published in a peer-reviewed journal of the host university.

The co-president of the 58th Meeting 2015, explained that the hosts are not able to publish the proceedings, as originally announced.

The Secretary General then announced the decision to accept the invitation of Bishkek to host the 61st Annual Meeting of the PIAC in 2018.

After this point, the Secretary General announced the end of her five-year term in office. She could be convinced by the members to run again as a candidate for the Secretary General for another five-year term. As no competing candidate appeared, she was unanimously re-elected as Secretary General for the next five years and accepted the vote.

The “PIAC Medal”, officially the Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies, had been awarded in 2014 for the last time, with the stock of medals endowed by Indiana University exhausted. The importance and visibility of this prize to honour outstanding academic achievements in the field of Altaic studies continues, and it was suggested by Oliver Corff to have two resolutions: one in order to thank Indiana University for half a century’s unswerving support, and another to establish a new medal, now in the name of the PIAC and funded by the PIAC. Oliver Corff then presented the model of a future medal, crafted by a professional metal sculptor and cast in massive silver, with a design reminding of the PIAC logo and the inscription “PIAC PRIZE FOR ALTAIC STUDIES”. After a lively discussion and debate on how to finance the medal in the future, it was agreed to finance the medal by dedicating a small portion of the annual participation fee to cover the cost of craftsman’s work and metal.

After this point being settled, a ballot was cast for the new medal committee, the composition of which continues the fine tradition of the historical medal committees: President and Secretary General are ex officio members, and three members are elected by ballot. After counting the votes, the three committee members were named as Rodica Pop, Alexander Vovin and Hartmut Walravens. They accepted the votes.

The Secretary General thanked the President, Ákos Bertalan Apatóczky, for his successful and smooth execution of the meeting, the hosting institution, namely Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, Vice Dean Judit Nagy, all assistants and the hotel crew for their excellent service and hospitality.

Hartmut Walravens then gave the closing speech on behalf of all participants. He noted that while PIAC meetings tend to be difficult to organize this was certainly not a routine meeting; with a new venue and a first-time president, everything worked out wonderfully. He also praised again the charme and hospitality of the hosts, and congratulated the old and new Secretary General for her re-election.

Resolutions

The resolutions of the Members of the 60th Annual Meeting express the gratitude of the PIAC members for the generous hospitality of their hosts, the historical rôle and importance of the Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies (also known as “PIAC Medal”), as well as the decision of the PIAC members to endow a new prize in order to continue that fine tradition.