Forty-five years of Permanent International Altaistic Conference (PIAC)

Forty-five years of Permanent International Altaistic Conference (PIAC)

(History and Reminiscences)
Denis Sinor

(This text was originally published in the PIAC Newsletter 27 (October 2002), pp. 16–26)

For the Proceedings of the 40th meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference edited by David B. Honey and David C. Wright, and published under the title Altaic Affinities (Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series vol. 168, Bloomington, Indiana 2001, viii+290 pp. ), I sketched the history of this organization (pp. 1–21). I then remarked that a semi-centennial volume would have been even more appropriate for this purpose, but noted that there was a hitch: by that time I will no longer be on this land and there is no one else who, like myself, would have attended all the meetings or would have been as much involved in the running of the PIAC. Well, five more years have passed since the meeting held in Provo, the PIAC is still prospering, I am still around and I thought that it might be a good idea to bring up to date this history and publish it in this ephemeral Newsletter which, actually, may reach more people than did the Proceedings of the 40th meeting.

The PIAC is the brainchild of Walther Heissig the distinguished Mongolist, professor at the University of Bonn, founder of the famous Zentralasiatisches Seminar of that university. During the 24th International Congress of Orientalists (ICO) in Munich, he invited the participants of its Altaistic Section to share his view that the framework of big congresses such as the ICO was not suitable as a forum for an exchange of ideas among those few who devote their scholarly pursuits to the arcane and little known field of Altaic studies. Then, as now, the number of scholars working in this field was really minimal when compared to the crowds focusing their interests on Biblical Studies, Islam, or Sinology, to give but a few examples. In retrospect I find it interesting that Heissig, a pure Mongolist, felt that his field of study organically belonged to a wider unit, encompassing Turkic or Tunguz.

On September 4, 1957, a dozen or so of us gathered in a rather shabby room of the University of Munich where Heissig put forward his idea. Of those present, besides Heissig and myself, I recall with certainty the presence of only Annemarie von Gabain and Omeljan Pritsak. At that time I did not think that there was a need for yet another orientalist organization but supported the idea out of friendship for the proponent of the plan although I felt reasonably certain that nothing would come of it. Time has shown that I was wrong. Heissig took it upon himself to organize the first gathering.

It took place in the Akademie der Wissenschaften und Literatur in Mainz, from June 25 to June 28, 1958. Present were: Pentti Aalto, Charles Bawden, Gerhard Doerfer, Wolfram Eberhard, Walther Heissig, Karl Jahn, Karl H. Menges, Udo Posch, Omeljan Pritsak, Klaus Sagaster, Denis Sinor, and Kaare Thomsen Hansen. Just a dozen, but from six different countries, a propitious start. Colleagues from the so-called Socialist countries had also been invited; some of them sent their greetings – but none could attend.

We gathered around a table. There were a few formal papers, such as Aalto’s on the general theme of the nature of the relationship of languages, but the bulk of the discussions focused on the needs of Altaic studies, on projects that can facilitate and advance research. Participants provided information not only on their own work but also on that of their universities or even on that of whole countries, such as the Soviet Union (Pritsak) or the USA (Menges). Thus the pattern of the “confessions” – the characteristic feature of all future meetings – was established. Some resolutions were passed in favor of projects to be undertaken and, over the years, some of the ideas put forward would be realized.

It was at this meeting, in 1957, that the PIAC was formally established, the name “Permanent International Altaistic Conference” adopted, and Walther Heissig elected as its Secretary General. To the best of my knowledge the PIAC was never registered in Germany as a scholarly society, and it is certainly not registered in the United States.

If the PIAC could survive and prosper it was due partly to a propitious start. It had the support of that organizational genius, Helmuth Scheel (1895–1967). Thanks to him, the resources of his brainchild, the Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz, were made accessible to the fledgling PIAC. The Akademie housed our first two meetings, which set the pattern of our future deliberations. Not only were our discussions held there, but we all stayed there and had all our meals in common. It was more than a meeting of colleagues, it was a gathering of friends of the “PIAC family” as it was to be called in later years.

At the second meeting (June23–28, 1959) the number of participants increased from 12 to 23. With the exception of Eberhard, all the participants of the first meeting were present and they were joined by a strong contingent from Turkey (Mansuroglu, Ögel, Rahmeti Arat, Ahmet Temir) and Italy (Bombaci, Gandjei). Zajączkowski was the first and only representative of a socialist country to appear at a PIAC meeting.

Because of repairs undertaken on the building of the Mainz academy, the third meeting (June 26–July 1, 1960) took place in the picturesque location of Burg Liebenstein, high above the Rhine over Kamp-Bornhofen. The 19 participants included some senior people, Nicholas Poppe, Walter Fuchs and Erich Haenisch, as well as some students. It was a welcome extension of our circle, to open it to the forthcoming generation. The practice of inviting young scholars has continued in the course of years.

At Burg Liebenstein the focus of the meeting was a rather unpretentious Guesthouse which offered ample opportunity to taste the local wines. It should be put on record that participants of the first three PIACs made good use of the products of the local viticulture of the Rhineland and that, as a result, good, high-spirited conversation and singing marked the end of a day of scholarly deliberations. Karl Jahn was an inexhaustible source of jokes which he had a special gift of telling. One evening of the second meeting we all adjourned to a Weinkeller. On our way back, most, if not all of us were squeezed into a Volkswagen bus, with Richard Frye trying to place his legs in a position at least tolerable if not comfortable, when Jahn, once again, started telling jokes. They were not only good, but he had a knack of telling them and his Viennese accent was powerful enough to make a sad story funny. Soon he set all of us in a roar until a sudden stop of the Volkswagen put an end to the general hilarity. The car stopped just a few meters short of a solid brick wall. The driver, shaking with laughter, lost his way and in the darkness drove into a cul-de-sac; another few feet and the local hospital would have been overflowing with Altaists in need of medical attention.

The first three meetings were subsidized by the Kultusreferat des Bundesinnenministeriums and I have no recollection whether, and if so to what extent, participants had to pay for their lodgings. It is my guess that Heissig could take care of the expenses of the students and of the two Poles present at this third meeting. It could well be that , having found subsidies for three consecutive meetings, there would have been need to look for other sources of financial help – a tiresome assignment. Be that as it may, Heissig felt that he had done enough, and that it was time for someone else to carry the PIAC forward. So he resigned and I was elected Secretary General for the obvious reason that I was willing to organize the next meeting in Cambridge, England. At that time I taught at the Oriental Faculty of Cambridge University.

I accepted the assignment without any hesitation. The Cambridge colleges are ideal venues for any conference, symposium, or seminar, and I had the necessary connections with several of them. My choice fell on St. Edmund’s House, not a college at that time, but a home to some Roman Catholic dons and students. The premises were excellent, more comfortable than those of, say, Burg Liebenstein, and we could have our discussions in the beautiful garden. It was the first PIAC meeting with stronger British participation, but no documentation survived and I cannot tell who was present and how many we were. I do remember that Sir Gerald Clauson was present. Nor do I have the exact date of the meeting.

Unavoidably the flavor, as it were, of the PIAC changed in Cambridge. Born in the German Federal Republic, where the first three of our meetings were held, the PIAC had within its tradition a strong German – should I say “Rhineland”? – component. The personality of our first Secretary General, Walther Heissig – settled if not born in that beautiful part of the world – further deepened this imprint and was instrumental in creating the happy, informal atmosphere which, with very few exceptions, was to characterize all our future meetings. Cambridge put its mark on our gathering. There was mid-morning coffee and mid-afternoon tea, and sherry before dinner and some wine during it. All this was just as “English” as the previous meetings were “German.” Perhaps more importantly, and quite imperceptibly, English replaced German as the principal language of communication. Although the very name of the PIAC was English, while in Germany we normally used German in our communications and discussions. There was also a slight shift to more formality, the Head of St. Edmund’s House honored us with a sherry party and I invited the participants to a modest garden-party given in my home.

A change in the character of our meetings was even more marked at our 5th meeting held at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, June 4–9, 1962. In the Spring Semester of 1962 I had accepted a professorship in the Uralic and Altaic Program (as it was then called) of Indiana University and, beyond the fact that it appeared a logical step for me to bring the PIAC to Bloomington, there were some weighty reasons why such an invitation appeared advantageous for the university as well as for myself.

Under the presidency of Herman B. Wells, Indiana University made a concerted effort in the field of international studies and there was hope that a National Defense Education Center in Altaic studies might be established on campus. It was in the interest of the university to make its mark in Altaic studies (after all, this is why I had been invited to join the faculty), and it was in my interest to show that I was the right man in the right spot. It was clear that no successful PIAC meeting could be held without massive European presence and it was equally obvious that few, if any European or Asian scholars, would be willing and able to pay for a short trip to the United States. Funds were needed and the university was ready and capable of providing them. Of the 34 participants 18 came from outside the USA, tow it from Australia, Denmark, Finland, the Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, and Turkey.

Clearly, substantial sums were needed to cover travel expenses, board and lodgings, for all the participants. They were provided by the United States Office of Education which, for the specific purposes of this meeting, entered into a contract with Indiana University. It was well worth the trouble: the word got around in the world of Altaic Studies and related fields, and in the Office of Education (as the US Department of Education then was called), that something great was happening at Indiana University. In turn, the university saw that I could “deliver” and had the style and connections for similar tasks.

It may mean little to most readers of these lines, but at that time it was a considerable achievement to bring to Bloomington scholars working behind what was called the Iron Curtain. At the time of the PIAC meeting, the so-called “Hungarian Question” was still on the agenda of the United Nations (it was to be removed on December 20 of that year), so the visit of two Hungarian scholars (Schütz and Czegledy) to the USA was not easy and needed good connections also in Hungary. The ever-cautious Louis Ligeti helped the project – simply by not opposing it. Travel arrangements for the third “Iron Curtain” scholar, Ananiasz Zajączkowski from Poland, caused fewer problems.

Two important steps were taken at the Bloomington meeting. I was elected Secretary General of the PIAC for a period of five years. To cite the magniloquent words used in the minutes of the meeting (which, after all, had to be forwarded to the Office of Education and were worded in the appropriate style), participants at the meeting “did so in the hope that by fixing the seat of the PIAC for five years in the USA, they would give the newly elected Secretary General the possibility of carrying out some concrete plans likely to give a new impetus to Altaic Studies both in the USA and in the world.” – Of course nothing of the sort happened on this grand scale but, it is safe to say that the PIAC was of help in supporting scholarship in the field.

The second step was taken by Indiana University which, in commemoration of the 5th Conference, offered to establish an Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies, consisting of a medal to be awarded annually by the PIAC to a scholar who in their opinion “had made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of Altaic Studies.” There were a number of provisos given in that first resolution, many of them never implemented, but two of them, with some slight amendments, survived the test of time. One was that “At each meeting a committee of four, if possible previous holders of the medal, will be elected by those eligible to vote, whose duty it will be to submit to the next meeting at least two and not more than four names of scholars deemed worthy to receive the medal.” According to the second proviso, “Those persons eligible to take part in the election will be all bona fide scholars in the Altaic field who have been present at a previous meeting of the PIAC and are present when the election is held.”

The medal to be awarded was modeled on the seal of Indiana University but the circular inscription “*Indiana Universitatis Sigillum *MDCCCXX*” was replaced by “Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies.” The first three medals to be struck were in bronze, the rest were, and are, in gold. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to Mongol studies, the first recipient of the prize was Fr. Antoine Mostaert C. I. C. M., a Belgian missionary, then living in retirement in the U. S. A. He received the award in absentia at the 6th meeting of the PIAC, held in Helsinki in 1963.

Experience has shown that the original rules regarding the composition of the committee in charge of awarding the medal were impractical. For one, they were amended at the 10th meeting of the PIAC, held in Manchester, England, in 1967, to read as follows: “Resolved that the Committee recommending candidates for this prize shall consist of the chairman for the time being, the Secretary General ex officio, and three ordinary members to be elected annually.”1 The decision taken in Manchester stood up well to the test of time, and still governs the proceedings. Within the PIAC “family” the Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies is usually referred to as the “PIAC medal” – a practice I will follow in this essay.

The more formal framework given to the PIAC in1962, coupled with the fact that, thanks to the generosity of Indiana University, there was now an office to keep the archives, and produce and send out circulars gave the PIAC an aspect of “permanency” which earlier had existed only in its name. The 6th (1963) meeting was held in Helsinki with Pentti Aalto as president, the 7th (1964) was convened by Karl Jahn and held in the conference center De Pietersberg, near Arnhem in Holland. It had a central theme “the horse in ancient Altaic civilizations.” There were thirty-six participants, a very small number when compared to some later meetings. The 8th (1965) meeting was held once again on the Rhine, in Wahlscheid near Bonn, with the Founding Father Walther Heissig presiding. For its 9th (1966) meeting the PIAC moved to Italy, to the lovely city of Ravello. Under the presidency of Alessio Bombaci – whom I tried to convince that a four-hour siesta is just a little too much for the PIAC – it was a very Neapolitan affair, reflecting the atmosphere of the place and the sunny, charming character of the president. The opening session took place in the Church of San Giovanni in Toro, recently restored but not yet consecrated. There were thirty-three participants, among them two Russians, V. M. Nasilov and E. R. Tenishev.

The Ravello meeting also inspired my remarkable Irish secretary Deirdre to write the following:

By the beaches of Naples you linger
Discussing ‘titles’ of yore
While I slave like a brave to prepare you
A Meeting like none before.
Four years have I thus laboured stoutly
So please bear in mind if you will
While I cannot be there in substance
My spirit is with you still.

With my tacit agreement she inserted this piece in the first issue of the PIAC Newsletter which came out in July 1966.

John Andrew Boyle convened our 10th meeting, held in Manchester June 26–30th 1967, in the course of which I was re-elected Secretary General for a further five years. Following the meeting, on July 10th I could write Boyle that “there is no doubt whatsoever that this was the most solemn meeting of the PIAC and fitted extremely well to our 10th anniversary.”

The 11th meeting – held in Hørsholm, Denmark in 1968 – was the first to be held under the presidency of a woman, Iben Meyer. It was also only the second meeting attended by Soviet scholars, both of high repute: V. I. Cincius, specialist in Tunguz linguistics and the Turcologist N. A. Baskakov. Cincius was to receive the PIAC Medal in 1971, Baskakov received his in 1980.

Before moving to weightier topics let me stop for the anecdotal. The appearance of Soviet colleagues was a great and happy surprise and I wondered how they managed to get permission to go to Denmark. Here is their story. Apparently, the invitation to the meeting included the word “Royal” – perhaps a reference to a royal academy? Cincius, a delightful, shy Russian lady, rushed with it to the responsible party apparatchik with the question of what was she to do about it, and with the statement that the last thing she wished to do was to goto Denmark. The bureaucracy was set into motion but there was no one willing to shoulder the responsibility to refuse the invitation of something “royal” coming from a neutral state such as Denmark. So she was ordered to go. Yes, but not without some reason, the bureaucracy did not trust the elderly lady completely, there was a danger – certainly not of desertion – but that she might not be a worthy, authoritative representative of the Soviet Union and of Socialist Scholarship. So, Baskakov, who also received an invitation, and who was a male, was also ordered to go to chaperon Vera Cincius. They both had a very good time.

The Hørsholm meeting was sponsored by a great Danish brewery, and there was a lavish reception at which the products of the sponsoring firm created, how best to put it, a very happy, relaxed atmosphere. I will never forget the sight of the Finn Räsänen, the Pole Zajączkowski, and the Russian Baskakov, holding high their steins, and singing at the top of their voices the old tsarist hymn, the anthem of the land in which the three of them were born. In looking and listening to them, I felt rewarded for my work in keeping the PIAC alive.

With no political ambitions of my own, I have tried as long as it was necessary to bridge over political differences, to bring together scholars irrespective of the political systems of their respective countries. Since the early 1950s I had done this quite successfullyin the wider domains of the International Congresses of Orientalists (as they were formerly called) and was all the more eager to bring “communist” scholars into the PIAC because, as it happens, Russian, Hungarian, and Polish achievements in the Altaic studies are of the highest quality. this openness was reflected in the award of the PIAC medal. Of the first six medals awarded, three went to scholars working in socialist countries:oe to a Mongol, two to Hungarians.

The breakthrough came from the least amenable socialist country and was the merit of the Hungarian Turcologist György Hazai then teaching in East Berlin. How he managed to convince the notoriously dogmatic and rigidly communist leadership of the Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR to invite the “American” PIAC to Berlin remains, for me, a mystery, and I can only hope that he will reveal the secret in his memoirs. Clearly, much skill, courage – and a sense of the adventurous – were needed even to think of such an act. It was in June 1968, when following the PIAC held in Hørsholm I was spending a few days in Hamburg, that Hazai’s invitation reached me, to come to East Berlin for an exploratory visit.

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the warped mind-set characteristic of the Cold War warriors, again I must have recourse to an anecdote. At that time it was not yet legally possible to have several nationalities, and mine was French. Although I was a Permanent Resident of the USA, every time I was to visit a socialist country, before my departure, I was supposed to obtain permission from the Immigration and Naturalization Services to do so. It was a mere formality, to me the permission was never refused, but the fact was that in June 1968, in Hamburg, I did not have it since it had not been my intention to visit a socialist country that summer. So how should I go to East Berlin? With some experience in clandestine operations, I was willing to take the risk but only on condition that no stamp of the German Democratic Republic should appear in my passport. Let me be brief. I entered and exited by car the DDR, stayed in several hotels, all of them under rigorous police control, and my passport bore no trace of the excursion. On my return I had no problems with the American authorities. Hazai worked a small miracle, and we had real fun in this adventure.

One delicate point in need of preliminary clarification was the presence of West German scholars. I received assurances that no obstacles would be raised to their coming to East Berlin and, indeed, some came, among them the incomparable Annemarie von Gabain, our beloved Maryam apa whom I first met in Berlin, in 1937. She was then an enthusiastic follower of Hitler but, with the passing time, no one reproached her this aberration. She had done no harm and her disarming openness about her work in the Frauenwerk was enough to forestall any criticism. Her political naiveté was, indeed, touching. The PIAC coincided, almost to the day, with the centenary of Willy Bang’s birthday. Kononov assessed his place in Turcology and Maryam apa recalled her memories of her former teacher.

The meeting was one of the largest ever, perhaps around one hundred and fifty participants and, as could be expected, fairly formal. We did not stay under the same roof and dispersed for the meals, but we had one or several very generous receptions. On a purely scholarly level – perhaps because of massive Soviet participation – the 12th meeting was probably among the best ever held. The impressive volume of the Proceedings bears witness to this statement.

From the beginning, there was no French participation in the PIAC. The fact was noticed and deplored by Heissig, and it would need a separate essay for me to try to explain the probable causes of this absence. Be that as it may, five French colleagues appeared in Berlin and were delighted in meeting with so many people from behind the Iron Curtain. As a result of this late-born enthusiasm, the PIAC received an invitation to have its 13th meeting in Strasbourg. I, of course, was particularly happy since I hoped that it would mean a sort of homecoming and a renewal of ties with colleagues with whom I had studied.

For me it was a bitter disappointment that the 13th meeting, convened in Strasbourg in June 1970, turned out to be nothing short of a disaster. The president, Irene Melikoff – a charming lady with whom I used to sit together at Jean Deny’s classes-had no conception of what the PIAC was all about. The first and only meeting she had ever attended was the 12th meeting, run very much on conventional congress-lines, and this was to be the format also of the Strasbourg meeting. Also, seeing the extent of Soviet participation in Berlin, completely misjudging the political realities of the time, she took it for granted that Soviet scholars would be allowed to come to Strasbourg, moreover to a meeting presided over by a lady of Azerbaijani origin. Also, the theme she had chosen for the meeting “Traditions religieuses et para-religieuses des peuples altaïques” was in itself enough to keep away Soviet scholars on whose presence she had put great store. In Strasbourg the atmosphere among participants was not always friendly and there were some rather nasty discussions, not limited to purely scholarly matters. In the course of the meeting I received many vigorous complaints and quite a few members wrote me indignant letters, many of them containing useful suggestions on the future of our meetings. In the PIAC Newsletter No. 8, (April 1971), I reproduced those written by, in alphabetic order, Hazai, Heissig, Hovdhaugen, Jahn, and Johansen. All of them advocated measures to limit the number of participants. I cite here Karl Jahn’s suggestion:

[denken wir daran] die Beschränkung der Teilnehmerzahl, dadurch zu erreichen, dass auschliesslich Fachleute und durch diese empfohlene junge Forscher eingeladen werden.

In a most polite way, Walther Heissig, remarked that:

Nun ist ist die PIAC wieder zu einem grossen Kongress geworden und die eigentliche ursprüngliche Aufgabe ist völlig in den Hintergrund getreten.

Not just the “old hands” were dissatisfied with what they perceived as a development toward a “big congress syndrome.” Even Hovdhaugen, who described himself as “a young member of the PIAC”, went so far as to suggest that a committee should be established to decide who should be invited to the PIAC.

These and many other views and my personal experience has led me in years to come to find a common ground between the desirable and the feasible. Until today, invitations to the PIAC are not sent out on the basis of some address lists provided free or against payment by various organizations. Invitations go only to bona fide scholars who either attended a previous meeting or had been recommended by a former participant.

From these weighty matters let me pass briefly to some personal memories. In February 1970 I suffered a massive heart-attack and by the time of the meeting in Strasbourg I had not fully recovered and bore the tensions apparent during the meeting with less equanimity than I would have done so otherwise. There was also a painful incident, not directly connected with the PIAC. One of our foreign (non-French) participants had too many drinks in one of the night-spots of Strasbourg, and became obnoxious. On the arrival of the police he made the major mistake of physically resisting arrest. of course, once at the commissariat, he was beaten up – not too severely but badly enough to carry the traces of the confrontation. It befell me to go to the police and negotiate his release by offering not to lodge a complaint against the police for their behavior. It was tough bargaining.

The following year the PIAC was moving to Hungary. Under the nominal presidency of Ligeti but effectively run by András Róna-Tas. Our next, the 14th, meeting was held in in Szeged. Róna-Tas had a difficult task, with the ever-cautious Ligeti – teacher of both of us – looking over his shoulders. But, familiar with PIAC traditions, he acquitted himself of the task with real mastery.

I have no list of the participants but the finely produced Proceedings show that it was probably among the most “international” of meetings we have ever had. There was enough free socializing, good “confessions” – the real, essential hallmark of our meetings – and not too stuffy formalities. Within the framework of our meeting, on August 24th a solemn session of the Kőrösi Csoma Society ( the Hungarian Oriental Society) was held in the ceremonial hall of the József Attila University at which were elected Honorary Fellows of that society: N. A. Baskakov (USSR), Sir Gerard Clauson (Great Britain), T. Gökbilgin (Turkey), and Denis Sinor (USA).

I have so far a number of times mentioned the PIAC Newsletter. The time has now come to give some additional information. The idea of a modest publication filling the hiatus between two successive meetings came up at our 7th meeting in De Pietersberg (Holland) and then, in a more imperative form, the following year at the meeting held in Wahlscheid (German Federal Republic) with the Founding Father Walther Heissig as president. The first issue, a very modest-looking publication (those were pre-word processor times) appeared in July 1966. Since then, at a rhythm of more or less once a year, the Newsletter appeared, serving mainly the purpose of recording the history of the PIAC. Without these issues at my disposal this essay could not have been written.

Karl Jahn had retired, and moved from Utrecht to Vienna where, in the nearby Strebersdorf, he organized our 15th meeting. (August 7–11, 1972). Among the participants were three coming from the Republic of China (Taiwan), a very welcome extension of our reach. By that time Soviet participation at our meetings had become routine. On a motion of Ane Nauta ( the Netherlands) it was decided that invitations for future meetings should be sent out with the joint signatures of the President and the Secretary General. Before that time only the president ( the convener of the meeting) signed the invitations. The decision was made to facilitate the keeping of the records. At the same time I was re-elected Secretary General for another term of five years.

An invitation issued by the Türk Kültürünü Araştirma Enstitüsü was received for the 16th meeting to be held in Ankara, marking also the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. The meeting was held October 21–26 under the presidency of the mongolist Ahmet Temir, and there was no lack of lavish receptions and official speeches. The invitation coming from Turkey was generally welcomed by our membership and also by myself. Turkish scholars had long been associated with the PIAC; four of them – including Ahmet Temir – were present already at the 2nd meeting. Regrettably, these PIAC members were swamped in Ankara by a multitude of Turkish scholars who used the occasion to read papers in Turkish to Turks on Turkish (not Turkic) subjects. There were about one hundred participants, far too many for the purposes of the PIAC, and far too many who took our meeting for an international congress of Turcologists. It should be noted that several of our Turkish colleagues voiced disapproval of this attitude.

The PIAC recovered its original format in the subsequent three meetings. The 17th (1974) convened by Walther Heissig met once again in the Rhineland, in Bad Honnef, the 18th (1975) returned to Bloomington, and the 19th (1976) convened in Helsinki under the presidency of Aulis J. Joki.

At our 20th meeting held August 15–19, 1977, in Leiden under the presidency of A. N. Nauta. I was reelected Secretary General for another term of five years. In my introductory remarks to Newsletter No. 12 I remarked that, unlike the PIAC “I was not ‘permanent’ and that it would be advisable to pay some thoughts to the question of my succession.” My reelection may have reflected a “faute de mieux” philosophy. I also sustained with some vigor the necessity to keep the PIAC independent and that the Secretary General should“ not be hampered by an international committee, notoriously difficult to run unless a costly administrative machinery is ready to cover the travel and telephone expenses caused by constant consultation.” I said it then and I am saying it now, all that is needed to run the PIAC is a middle-aged Secretary General with a secure home-base and ready to give priority to the PIAC. I have never missed one of our meetings.

For our 21st meeting (1978), John Andrew Boyle was again ready to shoulder the task of convening it in Manchester. A few months later, on November 19, 1978 he died unexpectedly. He was so much loved and respected by our membership that in 1979 he was posthumously awarded the PIAC medal, an unprecedented and until now unique honor.

On the initiative of Luc Kwanten, a Belgian by nationality teaching at the University of Chicago, for the 22nd meeting we once again moved to a “new”country namely Belgium. Under the nominal presidency of Charles Willemen, we gathered in Ghent, May 27–June 2, 1973.

It is probably due to the peculiar charm of our meetings that people were not only willing to organize them but, after some years of rest and recuperation, they felt ready to shoulder the burden once again. On his retirement, Karl Jahn, founding member and convener of the 7th (1964) and 15th (1972) conferences, was ready to organize the 23rd meeting (1984) in Strebersdorf, near Vienna. Jahn and I were good friends and I have already referred to his inexhaustible storehouse of good jokes.2 Yet, in Strebersdorf we strongly disagreed on an issue which he envisaged from a political and I myself from a scholarly angle. The contentious issue was the presence of employees of Radio Free Europe/RadioLiberty (RFE/RL).

Quite a few of my brighter students in the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies at Indiana University found employ with the violently anti-communist RFE/RL. In the years of the Cold War I had no sympathy with most of the activities of this organization but what these students were doing was research in contemporary Central Asian languages and area studies and I saw no reason to exclude them from our meetings. They were not involved in policy decisions. In any case, within the PIAC I have always been politically neutral. We were scholars bound by common scholarly interest, irrespective of political views that some participants may have held or were supposed to hold. The argument could have been made that the presence of RFE/RL staff would cause grave inconvenience to participants coming from behind that Curtain which, as their presence at the PIAC clearly showed, was not all that impenetrable. Also, I could have said that any inconvenience they may have experienced on their return home – namely that they were in contact with “enemy agents” – was their problem, and could have washed my hands of. However, I did nothing of the sort, just asked these ex-students to behave with discretion. They followed my request and now – when all this lies way back in the past – it is clear that the a political stance I took caused harm to no one, and the openness of the PIAC suffered no restrictions.

Over the years, by tacit rather than formal agreement the “membership”in the PIAC was equated with “voting rights” in the election of the committee charged with awarding the PIAC medal. According to the resolution passed at the 5th meeting, this right was the privilege of those who had been present at a previous meeting of the PIAC and were present when the election was held. Eighteen years had passed since the wording of that resolution and there was a feeling that one previous presence over so many years did not attest to much interest in the activities of the PIAC and that voting rights should therefore not be given to such casual attendees. Gunnar Jarring with his rich diplomatic experience therefore proposed that henceforth three attendances (i. e. the presence at two previous meetings) would be the qualification required for voting. His proposal was adopted.3

At Strebersdorf I had the pleasure of meeting Yuri Bregel, a Russian specialist of pre-modern Central Asia, who had recently emigrated to Israel. He offered to organize the 24th meeting. Of course, I was happy to follow upon his suggestion. The 24th meeting was held August 16–21, 1981, in Jerusalem with Yuri Bregel as president. It was a small meeting marked by excellent scholarship and great cordiality. The latter contrasted sharply with the rudeness of the Israeli passport control. The PIAC could “check off” another country.

This was done again the following year when in Uppsala, under the presidency of Gunnar Jarring assisted by Staffan Rosén, we celebrated twenty-five years of PIAC. (1975, June 8–11). In a quarter of a century PIAC meetings were held in fifteen countries. With the award of the PIAC Medal, Jarring contrived a not very “constitutional” surprise. To mark the Silver Anniversary of the PIAC, two medals were awarded simultaneously to the two Secretaries General, namely to Walther Heissig and to myself. My term of office was again extended for a further five years, a period the end of which I did not expect to reach. My heart was in very bad shape indeed, and walking even for very short distances caused violent chest-pains. A couple of weeks following the PIAC, I underwent a quintuple by-pass surgery-and I am still around to tell the tale. To continue on a further personal note, on receiving the award, I was jokingly telling Jarring that , back in Bloomington, I was then to hand over to myself the medal. But nothing of the sort happened. this very busy man – I think at that time he was still one of the Deputy Secretaries General of the United Nations – traveled to Bloomington for the sole purpose of handing me the medal. this was then done at a dinner, for me unforgettable, given by Indiana University’s then President, John Ryan. It should be noted that because the decision to whom the medal be given takes place during the meeting, the medal, with the recipient’s name engraved on it, is usually sent by mail at a later date.

Luc Kwanten, who organized our 22nd meeting in his native country took upon himself to convene another PIAC, this time at his university. Convened by him, and sponsored by the University of Chicago, our 26th meeting was held, August 15 to 20, 1983. It was the third meeting to take place in the United States. Professor Shiro Hattori was awarded the PIAC Medal and I had the great pleasure of presenting it to him personally on the occasion of an “International Kuriltay” organized for that purpose in the Haneda Memorial Hall of Kyoto University on September 5, 1983.

The ceremony was held within the framework of the 31st International Congress of Orientalists (officially called the International Congress of Human Sciences in Asia and North Africa)4 which attracted many Soviet scholars, and had far reaching consequences for our future. In Kyoto I met I. F. Vardul, a general linguist with strong interest in Altaic, and clearly a person with an open mind, and I approached him with the idea of having one of our next meetings in the Soviet Union. To my surprise, Vardul was quite aware of our existence and revealed to me that there had been some discussions in Moscow on the desirability of having a meeting organized in the Soviet Union. I even learned from him that questions had been raised concerning my personal history, specifically my Hungarian origin, Soviet scholars did not wish to appear to be cooperating with an “emigre”, perhaps one not acceptable in Hungary. However, enquiries made in Hungary (by whom and with what sources?) have shown that I was persona grata there and thus the fear of hurting Hungarian political sensibilities was put to rest.

The 27th PIAC (1984, June 12–17) was held, under the presidency of Klaus Sagaster in the Dominican Monastery of Walberberg, near Köln. There was a central theme: “Religious and lay symbolism in the Altaic world.” According to my notes, admittedly subjective, “it was the nicest PIAC ever held.” Be that as it may, it was the first meeting with a participant from the People’s Republic of China. His name was MA Yong and I got to know him on the international UNESCO Committee in charge of the production of the History of Civilizations of Central Asia. I had played a certain role in securing Chinese participation in this project, vehemently opposed by the Soviets, and Ma appreciated my help. A vociferous Maoist on the Committee, he would considerably mellow in private conversations. There was to be given a Saturday concert of classical music in the church of the monastery and I asked him whether he would be interested in coming. He readily agreed. Next morning, I asked him whether he would like to come with me to Mass. He responded in the affirmative and when, as the Mass was said, I tried to explain to him the meaning of the liturgy, it turned out that he was quite familiar with its essential elements. Later he revealed to me that the PIAC allowed him to fulfil one of his dreams: before coming to Walberberg he could visit in nearby Bonn the house were Beethoven was born… How deep had this dream been buried in him during the horrors of the cultural revolution? I then thought that my labors on behalf of the PIAC had not been in vain if thanks to them Ma could visit Beethoven’s birthplace. He died in 1985 at the early age of 51, and I remembered him in PIAC Newsletter 16 (1986).

In June 1984, shortly after the Walberberg PIAC, I was in Moscow, guest of the Institute of Linguistics of the Soviet Academy. The invitation was clearly initiated by Vardul and I was received with great cordiality. Much help was given by the Japanologist Alpatov who was to remain a stalwart supporter of the PIAC. I was dragged from office to office and met a great number of important people, among them Vadim Solntsev who at that time was head of the linguistic section of the Oriental Institute of the Soviet Academy. I had met him in 1982 in Mongolia, at the 4th International Congress of Mongolists, where we represented widely differing views. Since that time I had no personal contact with him but, thanks to Vardul and Alpatov he received me with good grace.5

During my stay in Moscow I gave several lectures, including one on my 1983 trip along the newly built Karakorum Highway linking Pakistan to China, a region of great interest and yet unknown to the Soviets. Before my arrival, I had an invitation to Kazan but, with some typical Soviet excuse, the trip had to be canceled and replaced by avisit to Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, all courtesy of the Academy. I was shepherded by a charming and efficient young man called Sasha Barulin with whom I lost touch. With hindsight it would appear that, having made my round of “important persons” in Moscow, they were in need of some time to exchange their impressions and agree on a course to follow. There is no need to recount here the details of my trip but it belongs to this story that I had long and very constructive conversations with some members of the UzbekAcademy, who were well aware of my administrative work at Indiana University. Several of my students had already visited and stayed in Tashkent. To use a fashionable term, the chemistry was good. So must have been the impression communicated by my new Uzbek friends to Moscow. On July18, during a very pleasant dinner in his home, Solntsev informed me that he was ready to organize our 29th meeting in Tashkent and would make the definite commitment in May 1985.

In 1985, after an absence of nineteen years, the PIAC returned to Italy. this time it was Venice. At our 26th meeting in Chicago appeared Andrea (András) Csillaghy, a professor at the Università degli Studi of Venice. Delightful in his manners, he confessed to much interest in Altaic studies. He reappeared at Walberberg and invited us to Venice for the 28th PIAC. Of course I was delighted, because since the death of Bombaci we had almost no Italian contact. It remains a mystery to me why Csillaghy took upon himself the task of organizing this meeting, the last at which he ever participated. Years later I met him, always charming, in Udine whereto he had moved. The Proceedings of the meeting were then published by Giovanni Stary.

Solntsev came to our meeting in Venice and clearly enjoyed it. I was not surprised that he was willing to shoulder the burden of organizing the next meeting. The difficulties he had to overcome were enormous, political as well as technical. On the political level the problems were caused, or so it seemed to me, not so much by Soviet-Western relations but rather with the care that had to be taken not to hurt Uzbek sensibilities. On the technical level one must remember that those were days without e-mail or fax, the telephone connections were utterly unreliable and an exchange of correspondence between Bloomington and Moscow could easily take two months. I know less about the negotiations between Russians and Uzbeks. The end result was that our 29th meeting took place in Tashkent, September 15–21, under the joint sponsorship of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Linguistics of the UzbekAcademy of Sciences. Vadim Solntsev was the president. The central theme of the meeting was “Historical and cultural contacts between the peoples of the Altaic linguistic unity.”

An article by me, entitled “Prolegomeny k 29j sessii PIAC” was published in a special issue of Uzbek tili va adabieti (1986, 4).6 In it, as well as in my opening speech, partly in English, partly in Russian, I emphasized that scholarship must be international as well as supranational. Not a very original thought, yet one that had been seldom expressed in Tashkent. To my chagrin most of the Turkish participants used the occasion to emphasize the notion of the brotherhood linking all Turkic people. Whatever it may mean, I have no quarrel with this undeniable “brotherhood,” but such matters – I thought then and I am thinking now – should not intrude into PIAC gatherings.7

In a lighter vein, let me switch to an anecdote which may help in evoking the difficulties in running the meeting. As already mentioned, the committee which decides on the award of the Indiana University Prize inAltaic Studies is elected through a secret ballot cast by those entitled to vote. Our Uzbek members were reluctant to believe that this was really the case and through the intermediary of Solntsev they kept asking for “instructions” on how to vote. Then suddenly the emphasis shifted, and a slightly flustered Solntsev informed me that the local scholars would very much take it amiss if the new committee would not include one of them. What should we do he asked. Well, so went my reply, let us bring some Chicago-style electoral technique to a Soviet-style election. The result satisfied everyone, and an Uzbek scholar was duly elected. The solution was simple. The number of “electors” is relatively small and each of them has to write three names on the ballot. Unavoidably, the votes are scattered among many names. So, through buttonholing as many electors as I could and suggesting that one of their votes should be cast in favor of X, the gentleman was duly elected, Uzbek honor was saved and Solntsev’s authority further strengthened. Of course it was for the first and last time that I was lobbying for a candidate.

I have always attached great importance to involving Soviet scholars in the workof the PIAC. In my opening speech in Tashkent I publicly stated the reason for this. “In the field of Altaic studies, in the study of the present and the past of Central and Inner Asia, Soviet scholarship holds a special place. Much of what has been the history of Altaic people happened on the territory now united in the Soviet Union.”

In 1987, for its 30th meeting the PIAC returned to its headquarters at Indiana University in Bloomington. There were fifty-four participants from thirteen countries, and I was re-elected Secretary General for yet another five-year term. Not surprisingly, American participation was quite high (25) but most of them were local people. More importantly, we could bring to Bloomington four colleagues from the PRC. Slowly the bamboo-curtain was lifting.

This may be an appropriate place to say a word on PIAC finances. Ever since 1962, Indiana University generously supported the basic needs for office supplies, postage, and secretarial help. It was the presidents’ task to provide the means for the meeting he had accepted to convene. For the majority of the membership, resident in Europe, the travel expenses to any meeting held elsewhere (e. g. Israel, the USA, or the USSR) were prohibitive. Also, until about the great political changes of 1998–1990, colleagues from the Socialist countries found it difficult to obtain the necessary foreign currencies to cover their travel expenses. From the mid-1970s, permission to travel was readily granted at least in Hungary and Poland. The task to find funding for the meeting has always been the responsibility of the President who recouped a large part of the expenses from the fees charged to the participants. The largest part of the subsidies received was used to cover the travel expenses of, and to offer hospitality to, the participants coming from socialist countries. Also, it has become the tradition to consider the immediate past President and the Secretary General guests of the meeting.

Socialist countries where Altaic studies were well represented reciprocated the hospitality offered to their scholars abroad by inviting the PIAC. For reasons difficult to understand, over the course of the years, only Poland has made no such gesture, while in 1988 the German Democratic Republic was ready to receive us for the second time. Under the presidency of Hans-PeterVietze, the 31st meeting was held in Weimar, at that time within the DDR. The Humboldt University of Berlin and the Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR sponsored the meeting. Soon after both these institutions were to undergo tremendous changes.

In 1989, under the presidency of Bernt Brendemoen, the 32nd meeting met in Oslo, adding thus Norway to the ever-lengthening list of countries where we had been received. Baskakov, the great Russian Turcologist, unable to come, sent the text of a facetious “Hymn of the PIAC” with text and music composed by himself.8 The piece prompted Ahmet Temir to prepare a Turkish variant of the text.9 If eyebrows are raised to see such trifles mentioned in what should be a serious historyof the PIAC, the appropriate response is that such lighthearted matters are part of the very core of this unusual gathering of serious scholars.

After Oslo, in 1990 the meeting, our 33rd, returned to Hungary, this time to Budapest, under the presidency of Alice Sárközi, the first lady-president since our meeting in 1968. She found her way with great skill in the maze of Hungarian life changing from a socialist regime, well, to another. The central theme of the meeting was “Altaic Religious Beliefs and Practices.” Sárközi handed the torch to Barbara Kellner-Heinkele, who presided over our 34th meeting, held in Berlin in 1991. With the recent unification of Germany and the fall of the “Berlin Wall” the circumstances were widely different from those that had obtained at our last meeting held in that town (12th meeting, 1969). It was a pleasure to see German scholars formerly from East and West mingling freely. Also, one felt bound to recall the splendid Altaistic traditions represented by that city where such scholars as Bang, LeCoq, F. W. K. Müller, Annemarie von Gabain, Erich Haenisch, to mention but a few of the great, had been active. The central theme of the meeting was “the concept of sovereignty in the Altaic world.”

East Asian scholars attended PIAC meetings right from the beginning but because of the travel expenses involved their attendance record was rather poor. To compensate, regional meetings were organized. The initiative was that of Japanese colleagues who organized the so-called Mojiri-Lake Quriltay, the Junior Altaists’ Meeting in Japan. To the best of my knowledge, the third of these meetings, held in July 1976 decided to establish an East Asian Altaistic Conference (EEAC), not in competition with, but as a complement to the PIAC.10

The first Secretary General of this EAAC was Nobuo Yamada and the meetings were held yearly, probably in Japan. The 4th meeting, however, took place in Taiwan, in 1971. I was invited to attend as “academic advisor” and was greatly impressed by the dynamism of the two organizers, Sechin Jagchid and Ch’en Chieh-hsien. The latter was responsible also for the organization of the 5th meeting of the East Asian Altaistic Conference, held in Taipei December 26, 1979 – January 2, 1980.

Our Taiwanese colleagues were showing increasing interest in developing what they called China Border Area Studies and several of them, but principally Jagchid and Ch’en became, at least since 1976, regular participants at our meetings. While aware of the extraordinary financial and political difficulties which the organization of a PIAC meeting in the Republic of China had to overcome, I urged them to shoulder the task. Ch’en Chieh-hsien performed miracles, and our 35th meeting (1992) was held in Taipei. To the pleasure of all and the surprise of some, several scholars from the People’s Republic of China attended. Once again it appeared that, in its limited field of interest, the PIAC could serve as a bridge between opposing political forces. The meeting was organized under the joint sponsorship of the National Taiwan University and the Center for Chinese Studies Materials of the United Daily News Cultural Foundation and the subsidies allowed for the offer of the air-fare to every bona-fide PIAC member who wished to attend. At this meeting I was reelected Secretary General of the PIAC for a further five years.

I would have preferred that our next meeting be held at a place with easier access for our members (we could have come back to Europe) but a unique opportunity presented itself to hold our 36th (1993) meeting in Alma-Ata (as it was then called) in Kazakhstan. E. Z. Kazhibek (Erden Kazhibekov), director of the Center for Oriental Studies of the Kazakh Academy of Sciences, became the president of the meeting sponsored by the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The merit of brokering the arrangement belonged to Dimitri Vasilev, Vice-President of the Association of Orientalists of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Associacija Vostokovedov RAN). The logistic difficulties in organizing the meeting were considerable, most of the correspondence had to go through Moscow, and the fax connections were unreliable at best. Those were pre-e-mail days. The news of the meeting held at what, at that time, was considered a fairly exotic place brought out from the woodwork a strange assortment of people who, in years past, had shown no interest in the PIAC and, to the benefit of our members, after the meeting, disappeared from our horizon. On a personal level, the highlight of my stay was a delightfully long lunch, lasting til evening, at the home of Smet Kenesbaev, Nestor of Kazakh linguistics.

After an absence lasting almost a quarter of a century, in 1994 the PIAC returned to France. With Jean Richard as our president, we had our 37th meeting in Chantilly, near Paris. The central theme was “L’Eurasie Centrale et ses contacts avec le monde occidental.”

By that time the PIAC had met in nineteen countries. Hidehiro Okada, who with his wife Junko Miyawaki had attended a great many of our previous meetings, made sure that Japan should become the twentieth country to offer hospitality to the PIAC. Under his presidency, the 38th meeting could convene for the first time in a country that had done so much for the development of Altaic studies. The meeting was held in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, August 7–12, 1995. It was most unfortunate that, the same year but prior to our meeting, passed away two great Japanese Altaicists, Shiro Hattori (1908–1995) and Shichiro Murayama (1908–1995).

The following year, in 1996, for its 39th annual meeting the PIAC was back in Hungary, in the city of Szeged, site of our 14th meeting. This time our president was Árpád Berta. The central theme was “Historical and linguistic interaction between Inner Asia and Europe,” a topic most appropriate for a year in which Hungarians celebrated the 1100th anniversary of the conquest of their country. It was our third meeting held in Hungary. I could not help smiling when I noticed the efforts made by our hosts to avoid the use of the word “conquest” – deemed politically incorrect.

The 40th anniversaryof the PIAC was celebrated in Provo (Utah) in the United States of America, June 2–6 1997, David B. Honey being president. The central theme was “Altaic affinities: historical, cultural, and linguistic.” At the Business Meeting, after considerable discussion, it was unanimously decided to change the rule governing voting rights at our meetings. The rule adopted at our 23rd meeting11 whereby voting rights were held by those present at a given meeting who attended at least three previous PIAC conferences, was amended. Henceforth, only those participants who had attended at least three previous conferences held in at least two different countries would have voting rights at any given meeting. The justification for this change lay in the fact that in the long history of the PIAC some countries hosted more than three meetings, and it could well be that some participants attended only those held in their own country, While welcome at the meetings, it was felt that such occasional participants, with very limited experience, and possibly little interest in the workings of the PIAC, should have no voting rights.12 For better or for worse, I was once again re-elected Secretary General for a term of five years.

In 1998, for our 41st meeting, under the presidency of Juha Janhunen, we gathered once again in Helsinki, our venue in 1963 and 1976. The 42nd meeting was held in Prague, in the Czech Republic, a country which the PIAC had never visited before. The meeting was sponsored by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and our president was Charles Carlson. Times, indeed, had changed. I have mentioned above the difficulties I had in 1984 admitting to the PIAC scholars who worked for that organization. For the 43rd meeting, in 2000, the PIAC returned to Belgium where we last met in 1979. Our president was Aloïs van Tongerloo who lodged us in the most pleasing little Chateau of Pietersheim, near Lanaken. The central theme was “Life and Afterlife and Apocalyptic Concepts in the Altaic World” and the meeting was dedicated to the memory of two Founding Fathers of Altaic Studies connected with Belgium: Charles de Harlez de Deulin (ob. 1899) and W. Bang-Kaup (ob. 1934).

The 44th meeting was something of a “homecoming.” It was held in the Rhineland where the PIAC originated, to be specific, in the Dominican Monastery of Walberberg where we had our 27th meeting, back in 1984. Veronika Veit was our president and it was with the greatest of pleasure that participants could greet Walther Heissig, the Founding Father of the PIAC. Under the presidency of Alice Sárközi the 45th meeting was held, once again, in Budapest where we last met in 1990. It sounds somewhat unbelievable but I was re-elected Secretary General. Were I to see the end of my term, I would be ninety-one. I strongly suggest that senior members of the PIAC should pay more attention than I think they do to the question of my succession. I have done my best to ensure the orderly transfer of the PIAC database and have taken some steps that Indiana University should continue the lovely tradition of awarding the Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies.

So, I told my story, as unpretentiously as I could, as unpretentiously as behooves the scholarly circle of like-minded people who, oncea year, gather to renew old acquaintances and welcome new friends. that in doing so the PIAC could transcend political divisions separating countries and political systems, that it could give some help to beleaguered colleagues in permanent need of justification in their academic surroundings, was a welcome by-product of this activity.

The history of the PIAC is a happy one; frictions have been rare and never heated. I am deeply grateful to all those colleagues to whom I usually refer as “nevertheless friends” for their continuing confidence and, dare I say, their affection manifested so often in so many ways. And my very sincere gratitude goes to generations of administrators of my marvelous Indiana University which sheltered and, indirectly or directly, financed the PIAC since 1962. Collectively they deserve the “Indiana University Prize for Altaic Studies” which should continue to be awarded long after I am gone.


1PIAC Newsletter No. 3 (1968). p. 3. For reasons of public relations, in the course of the years, the title “chairman” was replaced by that of “president.”

2My obituary of Karl Jahn appeared in PIAC Newsletter 16 (1986), pp. 3–5.

3See PIAC Newsletter 13 (1982), p. 5.

4The first twenty-nine congresses, beginning with 1873, went under the name of “International Congress of Orientalists.“ At the 29th gathering, held in Paris in 1973, a highly politicized French-dominated Advisory Committee changed the name to the impossibly clumsy and grammatically incorrect “International Congress of Human Sciences in Asia and Africa.” At the 31st Congress, under the wise presidency of Tatsuro Yamamoto, common-sense prevailed, and the name was changed to “International Congress for Asian and North African Studies” (ICANAS).

5In a most kind and generous piece written on the occasion of my 85th birthday (“Denis Sinor. Yubileyuchenogo”) Altaica V. Institut Vostokovedeniya RAN, 2001, pp. 9–13) Professor Alpatov describes this visit and the subsequent Tashkent PIAC from a different point of view.

6The original English text was reproduced later in PIAC Newsletter 17 (1987), pp. 4–8.

7The texts of the papers read in Turkish by Turkish participants in Tashkent appeared in Türk dili araştırmaları yıllığı Belleten 1986 (appeared in 1988).

8Published in PIAC Newsletter 19 (1990), pp. 9–19, and reproduced on pages 28 and 29 of this newsletter.

9PIAC Marşı published in PIAC Newsletter 20 (1991), pp. 14–15.

10On this see Nobuo Yamada: “The Present Situation of Altaic Studies in Japan” PIAC Newsletter 2 (1967), pp. 7–9.

11See PIAC Newsletter 13 (1982), p. 5.

12See PIAC Newsletter 26 (1999) , p. 3. Because of an unfortunate misprint, the Provo meeting is mentioned as the 47th (and not correctly the 40th).