Staying Human in Times of War: A Conversation with Anthony Marra and Khassan Baiev

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 7:00pm
A Russian Mi-8 helicopter shot down by Chechen fighters near the Chechen capital, Grozny. Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev

Fong Auditorium, Boylston Hall, Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA

In the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, a Connecticut-sized republic located in the North Caucasus, staged a rebellion with the intent to secede from Russia. Between December 1994 and April 2009, Russia carried out two military campaigns against Chechnya to prevent secession, resulting in an estimated 150,000 deaths, well over 10% of the pre-war population. Human rights groups observing the conflict noted a number of atrocities, including disproportionate violence against civilians, refusal of Russian forces to create safe camps or routes away from the conflict for refugees, and kidnapping and hostage-taking on the part of Chechen fighters during and between the two wars.

Staying Human in Times of War is a discussion on the social, health, and economic costs of conflict and how we deal with trauma in the aftermath. Our goal is to promote better understanding of challenges faced by ethnic and other minority groups affected by conflict and to form ideas on how multi-disciplinary action can be taken to confront those challenges. This conversation brings together the American writer Anthony Marra, whose books have been set in Chechnya and feature both Chechen and Russian characters, and Dr. Khassan Baiev, the Chechen surgeon who treated wounded parties on both sides of the conflict. Guiding the conversation will be Professor Rawi Abdelal, Director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

Anthony Marra is the author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Tsar of Love and Techno. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he received his MFA.

Khassan Baiev is the author of The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire, which recounts his harrowing experiences as a surgeon during the Second Chechen War. During the conflict, Dr. Baiev was the only surgeon practicing in Grozny, where he treated both Russians and Chechens. While his commitment to upholding the Hippocratic Oath was lauded by the international community, his equal treatment of patients on both sides of the war drew death threats that eventually drove him and his family from his home country. Dr. Baiev has returned to Chechnya to begin practicing once more.


Anthony Marraauthor of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Tsar of Love and Techno

Khassan Baiev, surgeon; author of The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire and Grief of My Heart: Memoirs of a Chechen Surgeon.

Moderator: Rawi Abdelal, Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management, Harvard Business School; Director, Davis Center

Free admission with registration.

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Hosted by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

For more information, please call 617-495-4037 or email