Spring 2017

Venue: Gamla Torget 3, 3rd floor, The Library
Time: Tuesdays, 15.15-17.00 (if not otherwise indicated)

24 Jan Maxim Demin (S:t Petersburg): “The Philosophy in Transition: the Professional Identity of Late Soviet and Post-Soviet Philosophers”. Chairman: Elena Namli. Language: English

The situation in philosophy as an academic discipline in post-Soviet era seems to be paradoxical. The official Soviet philosophy that played a very specific role in the Soviet system of science and education has been discredited. This process is very obvious when you look at the changes of the curriculum. The philosophy teaching increased dramatically. According to statistics, the number of universities in the Russian Federation that offer educational programs in the field of philosophy increased to 2011 almost 10 times in the post-Soviet period: from 5 to 47.

The goal of the project is to collect and to analyze a case of self-presentation and self-description of those who was in charge in field of professional philosophers during 1980-2010. Dr. Demin will focus on the way of describing of near past and current situation in philosophy in Russian and Western philosophy. It is interesting to see how a dichotomy of domesticated/foreign, ideology engaged/professional autonomy is conceptualized. Dr. Demin aims to analyze the understanding of relations between professionals in philosophy, political authority and public interest by post-Soviet philosophers.

Maxim Demin is Associate Professor at St. Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia. His areas of interest are the history of academic communities and studies in the field of higher education.

31 jan Judith Pallot (University of Oxford): “Remembering the Gulag: Official versions”. Chairman: Stefan Hedlund. Language: English  

Vladimir Putin’s recent call in his December 1st speech to the Federal Assembly for  ’conciliation’ to be the theme for the hundredth centenary of the 1917 Revolution, reflects a position that has underpinned official constructions of the Soviet past for the past twenty years and that, latterly,  has been growing in confidence.  In her presentation, Prof. Pallot will compare how Stalin’s Gulag is remembered in state institutions, not as the centre, but in the peripheries.  Prof. Pallot takes her examples from regional prison authorities and regional (краеведческие) museums funded by local authorities and examines how the gulag is incorporated (or not) into their histories and to what extent they reproduce (or contest) official narratives emanating from the centre.

Judith Pallot, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Oxford. She has been researching The Soviet Union and Russian Federation since the early 1970s publishing on the pre-revolutionary peasantry, Soviet spatial planning, post-Soviet rural survival strategies and latterly, the Russian Prison System. She has written numerous articles in scholarly journals on imprisonment in Russia and the former Soviet Union and has published two books:    'Gender, Geography and Punishment: Women's experiences of Carceral Russia' (OUP, 2012) with Laura Piacentini  and "Waiting at the Prison Gate: Women, Identity and Punishment in Russia" (IB Tauris, 2016) with Elena Katz.  She is currently President of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies.

1 Feb (NB! 12:00)  Book launch where Professor Judith Pallot discusses Leo Granbergs and Ann-Mari Sätres recently published book "The Other Russia: Local Experience and Societal Change" (Routledge). Language: English 

Please inform Jevgenija Gehsbarga (jevgenija.gehsbarga@ucrs.uu.se) by 30 January if you would like to attend. As this seminar discussion will be held over lunchtime, registered participants will be offered a sandwich.

Most recent research seeks to explain contemporary changes in Russia by analysing the decisions of Russian leaders, oligarchs and politicians based in Moscow. This book examines another Russia, one of ordinary people changing their environment and taking opportunities to provoke societal changes in small towns and the countryside. Russia is a resource-rich society and the country’s strategy and institutional structure are built on the most valuable of these resources: oil and gas. Analysing the implications of this situation at the local level, this book offers chapters on resource use, local authorities, enterprises, poverty and types of individual, as well as a final chapter which places local societies within the framework of the Russian politicised economy.

Based on extensive empirical data gathered through more than 400 semi-structured interviews with entrepreneurs, teachers, social workers and those working for the local authorities, this book sheds light on the role of local activity in the development of Russian society and is essential reading for students and scholars interested in Russia and its politics. For more information about the book please visit publisher’s website.

Leo Granberg is Professor of rural studies in social sciences at the University of Helsinki 2005-13. Prof. Granberg is scholar at the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Russian Studies, University of Helsinki, and visiting researcher at the UCRS. He has studied rural development in former socialist countries.

Ann-Mari Sätre, Associate Professor in Economics, is specialized in the structure and performance of the Soviet/Russian economy. Her current research focuses on poverty, local development and women’s work in Russia.

7 Feb Andrej Kotljarchuk (Södertörn university): ”National Heroes, Fighters for Europe? Belarusian Waffen-SS and BKA veterans and their legacy in the West during the Cold War”. Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English

One group of Eastern European Diasporas that has been especially successful in passing on its symbolic capital during the Cold War is the Waffen SS veterans. The ambition of this presentation is to bring a light on the post-war memory efforts of Belarusian Waffen SS and BKA veterans that had left an enduring legacy. This is due, not least, to the cold war that was right for an active promotion of their myths in the West. Post-war Belarusians in exile established veterans’ association and monthly journals and have written much-read books that kept the cult of pro-Nazi martyrs alive. Their narratives, symbols and ideologies began to be adopted after the long division of the cold war by the right-wing politicians in today’s Belarus. The focus of this paper in looking at how the collaborators’ symbolic capital was memorialized, translated, codified, re-invented and ritualized kept in the Diaspora during the cold war. Special focus is on the internal discussions within Belarusian Diaspora on how to avoid the connection to the genocide and the affiliation with SS.

Andrej Kotljarchuk is Associate Professor in History at Södertörn University.

14 Feb Alla Anisimova (Novosibirsk): ”Siberian regional identity: self-perception, solidarity or political claim?”. Chairman: Elena Namli. Language: English  

The presentation will discuss spatial, cultural and socioeconomic premises of Siberian identity formation, and analyze the manifestations of Siberian identity in the forms of cultural peculiarities, local solidarities, and political action.

Alla Anisomova is a Senior lecturer in Sociology at Novosibirsk State University, and a researcher at the Far Eastern Federal University. Her resent research focuses on Siberian regional identity.  She has published the book “Siberian identity: premises of formation, contexts of actualization” (Novosibirsk: Novosibirsk State University, 2012) (in collaboration with Olga Echevskaya) and a number of articles on methodology of regional identity analysis and on socio-economic and political origins and implications of Siberian regional identity. Anisimova is also interested in studies of the impact of industrial development (mainly in energy sector) on Russia North and Far East regional identities.

16 Feb Adrian Wanner (Pennsylvania): “Post-Soviet Diaspora Fiction and the Culture of “Global Russians”. Chairman: Elena Namli. Language: English  

Since the turn of the millennium, an increasing number of Russian-speaking émigrés, many of them of Jewish descent, have become successful writers in multiple languages, making “Russianness” a sought-after commodity in the global literary market. At the same time, a certain weariness seems to have settled in among some of the writers who are providers of this brand. Following the “classic” trailblazers of Russian immigrant literature in France, Germany and the U.S, a new kind of post-Soviet cultural production has arisen that challenges the established stereotypes of ethnic fiction. This talk will pay particular attention to the bilingual oeuvre of Soviet-born and U.S.-educated journalist, novelist, and screenwriter Michael Idov (b. 1976). While reflecting the cosmopolitan self-fashioning and multicultural and multilingual orientation that one can find among other “Global Russians” (and which, in fact, has been a feature of Russian elites since the 18th century), Idov goes further than most in his embrace of an individual cosmopolitanism that constructs itself out of the shards and pieces of various cultures and locations.

Adrian Wanner is Liberal Arts Research Professor of Slavic Languages and Comparative Literature at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of Baudelaire in Russia (1996), Russian Minimalism: From the Prose Poem to the Anti-Story (2003), and Out of Russia: Fictions of a New Translingual Diaspora (2011). In addition he has published six editions of Russian, Romanian, and Ukrainian poetry in his German verse translation.

21 Feb Magnus Feldmann “Three Generations of Research on Post-Communist Capitalism: A Critique”. Chairman: Stefan Hedlund. Language: English 

This presentation analyses the development of academic debates surrounding post-communist economic reforms and capitalist institutions since the early 1990s. Whilst acknowledging the complexity and diversity of research in this field, the presentation identifies three generations of research on this topic over the past 25 years. It shows that these generations correspond to distinctive research programmes and explores how they relate to broader research traditions in economics, sociology and political science. It shows that each of these research programmes partly reflects key challenges associated with the post-communist reform at specific times. It analyses the main theoretical contributions and blind spots of these research programmes and assesses their empirical usefulness in relation to Russia and some Central and East European economies. The presentation concludes with some reflections on the broader significance of these debates about post-communist capitalism.

Magnus Feldmann is a lecturer in politics at the University of Bristol, UK and is visiting UCRS from 6 February until 6 March 2017. His research interests include a variety of topics related to political economy and Russian, Eurasian and East European politics, and he is particularly interested in post-communist capitalism and institutions. While at UCRS he is working on a survey article that analyses different approaches to post-communist capitalism as well as a longer-term project on the Russian political economy.

21-23 Feb International conference “Gender Shifts and Resource Politics in the Arctic”. Venue: Museum Gustavianum. Visit conference website for more information. 

23 Feb  Ekaterina Grishaeva (Yekaterinburg): “What does it mean to be Orthodox believer in Russia” as Orthodox mass media presents believers’ identities”. Chairman: Elena Namli. Language: English. In cooperation with research seminar in Sociology of Religion.                     

After the collapse of the USSR, religion has gained a significant impact on public sphere in Russia. Even if, in Russia the majority of population considers itself as Orthodox believers (62% according to national survey data), the society keeps a commitment to secular values as the legacy of Soviet past. The research carried out by the Dr. Grishaeva is aimed to examine which kinds of identities Orthodox community elaborates in order to adapt itself to desecularized society. The results of the research are based on the “naturally occurred data”, collected from Orthodox highly ranked web-sites and from national and local faith-based newspapers.

The seminar based on the results of this media analysis will present two different models of Orthodox identity building. The first one, conflict model, puts at the core strict adhesion to religious values, promotes commitment to Orthodox monastic ideal in mundane life. Secular modernity is presented as hostile, corrupted by sin, non-spiritual, and individualistic. The desire to transform a secular society into an Orthodox one explains strong political element in this model. According to the second model, model of collaboration, Christian love is a key element of Orthodox identity. It distinguishes, but does not separate Orthodox believers from other citizens. Moreover, it stimulates an active civic position. Important attention is paid to activism in such fields as education, health care, help to socially vulnerable groups, etc.

Ekaterina Grishaeva is lecturer at the Department of Philosophy at Ural Federal University. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Ural Federal University. She was a junior fellow in the Institute for Human Science (Vienna, Austria), and a postdoctoral fellow at the Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland). During 2015-2016 Dr. Grishaeva worked on a project Traditional Religions and Religious Identity in Post-Secular Society aimed at investigating how Orthodox believers invent their identities in post-Soviet conservative society.   

28 Feb Vasil Navumau (Bremen/UCRS): “The After-life of Ploshcha: Analysis of Discourse of Silent Actions in Belarus, 2011". Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English 

The events of the so-called ‘Ploshcha’ [Square] in 2006 made some of social theorists predict the revival of civic protest in Belarus. Those assumptions, however, proved to be wrong: rather, we witnessed that same trend of slow decay in both number and intensity of activism and protest, reproducing the patterns established in the 1990s. Yet, in the last five years, activists started using new techniques for the organisation of protests, inventing new slogans and coming up with more creative ideas. Author reflects on the emergence of new practices and in which way they make obsolete traditional assumptions, concepts and political answers, such as the focus on ‘street struggle,’ as well as the lack of attention to the symbolical dimension of protests. In particular, the author analyzes emerging forms of collective protest such as so-called ‘Silent Actions’ through the lens of Laclau’s and Mouffe’s discourse theory and concludes on the subtle connections between Ploshcha discourse and that of the Silent Actions."

Vasil Navumau completed his PhD at the Graduate School for Social Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences in 2014. He is an author of the book The Belarusian Maidan in 2006: A New Social Movement Approach to the Tent Camp Protest in Minsk. Currently he is a guest researcher at the Research Centre for East European Studies at Bremen University. His research interests focus on the ways information and communications technologies influence the transformation of repertoire, scope and ideology of social movements and the ways they can contribute to the formation of more transparent, participative and inclusive government.

7 Mar Sergei Chapnin (Moscow): ”The Church revival: strength and weakness of the Russian Orthodoxy”. Chairman: Elena Namli. Language: English.

What began in Russia in the late 1980s is usually called a time of Church Revival. Millions were baptized, tens of thousands of churches opened, thousands of new ones built. If the numbers were all that mattered, then indeed those metrics are simply astonishing. But is that all that we can say about it?

Sergei Chapnin is a chief editor of ‘Dary’ (The Gifts) magazine and co-chairman of ‘Artos’ Creative Arts Fellowship. In 2016 he launched an international project ‘Saints of the Undivided Church’ to promote better understanding between Christians based on common heritage of the first millennium of the Church history. In 2009-2015 Sergei Chapnin was a chief editor of the official magazine of the Russian Orthodox Church Zhurnal Moskovskoy Patriarhii (The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate) and the official newspaper Tserkovny Vestnik (The Church Herald). He also served as a secretary of the Commission on Church, state and society of the Inter-Conciliar Board of the Russian Orthodox Church and as a deputy chief editor of the Publishing house of the Moscow Patriarchate.

CANCELLED! 14 Mar Mykhailo Minakov (National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy) ”Experiment after Experiment: Post-Soviet Political Creativity”. Chairman: Stefan Hedlund. Language: English.

Prof. Minakov will report about political and economic experiments with democracy, national states, capitalism and market in post-Soviet societies. He will try to explain how the current Eastern European and Western Eurasian dictatorships, resultless revolutions, systemic corruption, and wars between sisterly nations were planted already in early 1990s.  

Mykhailo Minakov, President of the Foundation for Good Politics (Krupp Fellow: 2013-2014; Fulbright Kennan Fellow: Wilson Center-Harvard-2012-13; Fulbright Fellow: Harvard-2013; Shklar Fellow: Harvard-2010; UKMA Alumnus: 1998) received his Doctor of Sciences in philosophy in 2007 from the Institute of Philosophy, Kyiv, and is Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Author of three books and over 70 articles in philosophy, political analysis, history and culture, he also runs a peer-reviewed Ideology and Politics Journal as Editor-in-chief. He also works outside academia as political consultant to politicians in Ukraine, Germany and EU and is a President of the Foundation for Good Politics. More info is available at: http://www.minakovphilosophy.com/

21 Mar Slawomir Kapralski (SCAS): "Remembering Jews and the Holocaust in the Polish countryside in the 1990s: What people do when we think they recall the past?". Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English.

The argument focuses on the reception of the globalized narrative of the Holocaust in Poland. It is argued that this narrative has not been successfully integrated into the local memory, partly because of the narrative’s own deficiencies and partly due to the specific nature of the way in which local memories have been produced. Instead, it has contributed to the split of collective and social memories as well as to further fragmentation of each of these two kinds of memory. In result we may say that in post-communist Poland the Holocaust has been commemorated on the level of official institutions, rituals of memory, and elitist discourses, but not necessarily remembered on the level of social memory. It is claimed that to understand this phenomenon we should put the remembrance and commemoration of the Holocaust in the context of the post-communist transformation, in which the memory of the Holocaust has been constructed rather than retrieved in the process of re-composition of identities that faced existential insecurity. The non-Jewish Poles, who in the 1990s experienced the structural trauma of transformation, turned to the past not to learn the truth but to strengthen the group’s sense of continuity in time. In this process many of them perceived the cosmopolitan Holocaust narrative as an instrument of the economic/cultural colonization of Eastern Europe in which the historical suffering of the non-Jewish East Europeans is not properly recognized. Thus the elitist efforts to reconnect with the European discourse and to critically examine one’s own identity has clashed with the mainstream’s politics of mnemonic security as part of the strategy of collective immortalization that contributed to the development of antagonistic memories and deepened social cleavage.

Slawomir Kapralski, Professor of Sociology at the Pedagogical University of Kraków and a recurrent visiting lecturer at the Centre for Social Studies operated by Lancaster University and Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. He graduated from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow where he also received his Ph.D. in Sociology and started his academic career. Then for many years he has been associated with the Central European University (Prague, Warsaw, Budapest). In 2013-2014 he was Senior Fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, and in 2016-2017 he is Senior EURIAS Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Uppsala. His research focuses on nationalism, ethnicity and identity, collective memory, antisemitism and the Holocaust, and the Roma communities in Europe. He is a member of the Gypsy Lore Society, the European Association for Holocaust Studies, and the European Academic Network on Romani Studies. Among others, he is the author of a monograph A Nation from the Ashes. The Memory of Genocide and Roma Identity (2012).

23-24 Mar International conference "The languages of utopia: Geopolitical identity-making in post-Soviet Russian speculative fiction". For more information please visit conference website.

28 Mar Igor Torbakov (UCRS): ”Nationalist Frenemies? Russian Ethnonationalists' Critique of Eurasianists”. Chairman: Elena Namli. Language: English.

The seminar’s discussion will be based on Igor Torbakov’s essay that was recently published in the edited volume The Politics of Eurasianism: Identity, Popular Culture and Russia’s Foreign Policy, ed. Mark Bassin and Gonzalo Pozo (London; New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017).

The presentation will explore how the issue of Russian identity is being contested in the debates involving Russian ethnic nationalists and Eurasianists focusing primarily on the ethnic nationalists’ critique of Eurasianism as well as on their efforts to craft a “true” Russian nationalism.

Igor Torbakov is a Senior Fellow at UCRS and Associate Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. A trained historian, he specializes in Russian and Eurasian history and politics. He was a Research Scholar at the Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow; a Visiting Scholar at the Kennan Institute (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) in Washington, DC; a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University; a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University; a Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study; a Senior Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs in Helsinki; and a Visiting Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.

4 Apr Tor Bukkvoll (Norwegian Defence Research Establishment): “Why Putin went to war: ideology, interests and decision-making in the Russian use of force in Crimea and Donbas” Chairman: Stefan Hedlund. Language: English.

In his talk, Bukkvoll will give an account based on structural, institutional, ideational and psychological logics of explanation for why Russia decided to use military force against Ukraine in 2014.

Tor Bukkvoll is a Senior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment. He has studied political developments in Russia and Ukraine since the mid-1990s, especially in the areas of defence and security. He speaks Russian and Ukrainian, and obtained his PhD from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Bukkvoll was a visiting research fellow at the Changing Character of War program at the University of Oxford in 2008, worked as an associate professor of international relations at the Norwegian Military Academy 1996-1999, and has previously also worked at Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO). Among his most recent publications are: “The Defence Industry as a Locomotive for Technological Renewal in Russia: Are the Conditions in Place?”, 2017, Post-Communist Economies (joint with Tomas Malmlöf and Konstantin Makienko) and “Why Putin went to war: ideology, interests and decision-making in the Russian use of force in Crimea and Donbas”, 2016, Contemporary Politics, Vol. 22, No.3. 

11 Apr Barbara Lehmbruch (UCRS): "“Clans”, “Fiefs” and Networks in Low-Trust Environments: Reconceptualizing Social Ties in the Study of Post-Communism" . Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English. 

Post-communist economies and societies over the past 25 years have often been described by the metaphors of “clans” and “fiefs”: dense interpersonal networks allegedly compensating for the fragility of formal institutions. Yet at the same time, surveys have shown, levels of interpersonal as well as institution-based trust remain comparatively weak throughout the region. How does this fit together?

An explanation for the prominence of networks metaphors can be found in the intellectual history of the field.  Although self-described as determinedly empirical, the “clan” paradigm is crucially shaped by its origins in the analysis of East Asia, as well as by its use as an ideal-typical opposite of modern market contracting in the “markets and hierarchies” tradition. Both of these factors have fostered a sometimes rosy view of networks as stable, dense and exclusive, and hence, capable of supplying missing social order.

The strength of this paradigm has diverted attention from the potential role of a more fragile form of networks centred around uncertainty. Although interactions are indeed personalized, interpersonal trust often has failed to compensate for missing institutional safeguards. Rather, actors have developed coping strategies: on the one hand vertical integration, on the other hand a hedging strategy of purposeful network redundancy. Even if trust and enforcement remain low, actors can minimize the harm of default by maintaining multiple ties.

Barbara Lehmbruch is a researcher at UCRS. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Previously, she has taught in the Netherlands, Germany, and Georgia, and also worked as project manager and expert for both the European Commission and USAID. Her main fields of research are in post-communist political economy and public administration.  

18 Apr Georgios Vlantis (Munich): “Orthodoxy and aesthetic antiwesternism: Leonid Uspensky, Philip Sherrard and Christos Yannaras”. Chairman: Elena Namli. Language: English.  

A more or less polemic antiwesternism characterises the thought of many Orthodox theologians, from the Slavophiles of the nineteenth century till the Russian diaspora of the twentieth, the Greek theological generation of the 1960s and the various currents of the traditionalists nowadays. Scholars have analysed the patterns of Orthodox anti-western thought in theology, philosophy and hermeneutics of history; less known are the ways of antiwesternism in Orthodox aesthetics. How do prominent Orthodox theologians and philosophers of religion see aesthetics? How do they define the relation between eastern icons and the religious or secular art of the West? How do they explain and evaluate the evolution of  western art in general? Which are their sources and what echo do such perspectives have in the Orthodox world of today? In his presentation Georgios Vlantis will examine the examples of three Orthodox thinkers: the Russian theologian and icon painter Leonid Uspensky (1902-1987), the British philosopher and essayist Philipp Sherrard (1922-1995) and the Greek theologian and philosopher Christos Yannaras (b. 1935). Georgios Vlantis will comment on the way they interpret the western history, their evaluation of the art of the West and the theological and cultural implications of their perspectives, in their affinities and differences.    

Georgios Vlantis is Director of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Bavaria (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen in Bayern). He has published several articles on issues of philosophy of religion, history of theology and ecumenism in Greek, German and English, e.g. on apophaticism, patristic considerations of atheism, reception of ecumenical documents in the Orthodox Church, the notion of philanthropy in Orthodoxy, the attitude of the Greek Orthodox Church towards the financial crisis, the Holy and Great Council of Orthodoxy, etc. In 2011 he was appointed as a member of the Assembly Planning Committee of the World Council of Churches (10th WCC Assembly, Busan, South Korea) and he represents the Orthodox Church (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Metropolis of Germany) in various ecumenical forums in Germany and beyond.

25 Apr Mikhail Suslov (UCRS): “The Interpretation of Russian Geopolitical Culture: Mimesis, Rivalry and Recognition”.  Chairman: Elena Namli. Language: English.

The lecture will examine the religious and ethical roots of Russian geopolitical culture. It will draw on the concept of mimetic rivalry advanced by René Girard while arguing that historically (in modern history) Russia’s geopolitical identity was locked in a dyadic interrelationship with Western Europe. It explains why the more Westernized Russia became the more hostile to ‘the West’ it grew. The situation of mimetic rivalry mobilizes an ‘army’ of religious metaphors, which paradoxically pulsate between the Messianic vision of Katechon, a political body capable to postpone the coming of Antichrist, and – equally Messianic but in a different way – vision of Kenoticism, self-belittling, self-emptying.  This dialectics of self-aggrandizement and humbleness reverberates in today’s debates about and around such concepts as ”Holy Russia” and the ”Russian World”.  

Mikhail Suslov is a Marie Curie researcher at the Uppsala Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University. He obtained his PhD in history from the European University Institute in Florence in 2009. His research interests include Russian, and post-Soviet intellectual history, conservative and right-wing political ideology, critical geopolitics, conceptual history of the Russian Orthodox Church. His current study deals with the post-Soviet geopolitical ideas and new media. 

2 May Matthew Kott (UCRS): "The History of Antiziganism in Latvia: The Case of the Police, 1900–1945". Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English.

In contrast to anti-Semitism, with which it shares several similar features, the history of antiziganism in Latvia has been heretofore insufficiently researched. In order to understand the phenomena of discrimination, social exclusion, persecution, and genocide of the Romani minority, one must look at the various forms of othering and exotification produced by the idea of the “Gypsy” over time in a given society. As with other forms of racism, antiziganism can be structural, embedded in many of the key institutions that shape modern society. This paper will discuss whether there is evidence of institutionalised antiziganism within policing culture on the territory of Latvia from the late Tsarist period until the genocide of the Romanis during the Nazi occupation in World War II. The historical developments will be located within both a local, domestic and a broader regional context. This work in progress is part of an ongoing historical research project comparing networks of expert knowledge production on the “Gypsy plague” in Denmark, Sweden, and Latvia during the interwar years and World War II.

Matthew Kott is an historian and one of the Research Directors at UCRS. He is also currently employed on a  comparative research project at Södertörn University investigating international expert networks and the production of knowledge about the "Gypsies" in interwar and wartime northern Europe.

8-9 May International Conference "Conservatism in the Post-Soviet Context: Ideology, Worldview, or Moral Choice?".

11 May (15:15-17:00) Book launch of the volume "Population Displacement in Lithuania in the Twentieth Century" eds. by Tomas Balkelis and Violeta Davoliūtė. Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English.

Population Displacement in Lithuania in the XXth Century: Experiences, Identities and Legacies is an edited volume written by historians from several countries offering a series of ground-breaking case studies on forced migration in Lithuania during and between the two World Wars. Starting with the premise that the mass movement of peoples during and after the Second World War needs to be understood in relation to the population displacement of the First World War, the authors draw on theoretical perspectives ranging from entangled histories, cultural theory and studies of nationalism to trace the ethnic, social and cultural transformation of Lithuanian society caused by the displacement of Lithuanians, Poles, Jews and Germans.

Contributors are: Tomas Balkelis, Daiva Dapkutė, Violeta Davoliūtė, Andrea Griffante, Ruth Leiserowitz, Klaus Richter, Vasilijus Safronovas, Vitalija Stravinskienė, Arūnas Streikus and Theodore R. Weeks.

16 May (13:15-14:30) “Russians, Refugees and Europeans: What shapes the discourse of the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia?” with Louis Wierenga, University of Tartu (UCRS Visiting PhD Fellow). Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English.

The Conservative Peoples’ Party of Estonia (EKRE) presents a unique case in the study of far-right parties for two reasons. First, the ‘others’ to which they juxtapose Estonians to are the Russian-speaking minority, who are white, historically Christian and to a large extent, share many of the socially conservative values as EKRE. Second, there has been a trend for European far-right parties to look towards the Russian Federation for support due to shared socially conservative ideological positions, and an opposition to the EU and NATO. EKRE takes a different stance towards the Russian Federation than many other far-right parties in Europe. Interviews were conducted with members of EKRE, as well as with members of other political parties in Estonia, primarily focusing on the post-migrant crisis relationship between EKRE and the Russian-speaking population in Estonia, as well as other core issues related to EKRE. The aim of this article is twofold: first, it serves as an introductory piece, introducing EKRE, after their recent elevation to Parliament, to the broader literature on populist, radical right (PRR) parties. Secondly, this article asks the question, “is the possibility of the presence of a foreign, racially and religiously different ‘other’ enough to attract a significant portion of a national minority to vote for and become members of a PRR party?” This article argues that EKRE is open to Russian-speakers becoming party members, but will not extend their reach to them as Russian speakers. Rather, they would welcome Russian-speakers as party members who self-identify as Estonian nationalists who adhere to the party constitution and view Estonia as a sovereign nation which they seek to protect.

Louis Wierenga was awarded this year’s guest PhD position at the UCRS. He is a second year PhD student at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu. Louis holds a bachelor’s degree in history from York University in Toronto and a master’s degree in political science from Munk School of Global Affairs also in Toronto. He is writing his dissertation about the populist radical right and its relationship with the Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltic states. Louis is staying at the UCRS from May 2 until 31 May.

16 May (15:15-17:00) “Violence by Russian and Soviet Rulers against Family Members and Intimates, 1500-1953:  Civilizing Process or Political Embeddedness?” with Matthew Light, University of Toronto (UCRS Visiting Fellow). Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English.

Criminologists have recently begun applying theories derived from the study of interpersonal violence to aspects of intra-elite political violence formerly seen as the preserve of historians and political scientists.  We use a database of acts of violence by Russian and Soviet rulers against family members and other intimates from 1500 to 1953 to test two competing theories of intra-elite violence, Elias's "civilizing process," which interprets declining interpersonal violence in European societies as the result of long-term cultural change; and Cooney's "privatization of violence," which holds that with the formation of modern states, fewer motivations for interpersonal violence remain, and public authorities have largely monopolized dispute resolution.  In Russia, we find a trend toward less violence--less in quantity, as well as lesser in severity and publicity--by rulers against intimates over the 18th and 19th centuries.  In contrast, the early Soviet period sees a renewed increase in violence against intimates of General Secretary Joseph Stalin, although directed against a different "at risk" group of intimates.  Our findings provide some support for the "civilizing process" hypothesis, but also suggest the need for a more multifaceted model of intra-elite violence, integrating distinct but interacting individual, cultural, and political levels of causation.

Matthew Light is associate professor of criminology and sociolegal studies at the University of Toronto.  Light received his doctorate in political science at Yale University in 2006.  His research concerns migration policy, law enforcement, and criminal justice in post-Soviet countries.  His book, Fragile Migration Rights:  Freedom of Movement in Post-Soviet Russia, was published by Routledge in 2016.  He will be visiting at UCRS from May 1 to 31.

18-19 May International conference “QUO VADIS UKRAINE? Taking Stock of a Quarter Century of Disappointment”. See conference website for more infotmation.

23 May Uku Lember (UCRS): "Historical memory in "inter-regional" marriages in Ukraine and Russian-Estonian marriages in Estonia". Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English

The seminar will focus on the different narrations of family and personal history in Estonia and Ukraine, touching upon oral histories of “Russian newcomer” and “Estonian local” families in Estonia and of marriages between people from different regions of Ukraine (living in Kyiv). First, an overview of the oral history research methodology and theoretical framework will be offered, and then main findings from both research projects will be discussed (with Ukraine interviews still ongoing). Then, a general outline of the Estonian study and tentative answers from the Ukrainian study will be provided. Some of the posed questions in the Ukrainian case will be the following: How do the binary narratives of “East-West” and “Europe-Russia” fit with the identification patterns of people in geographically mixed marriages in Ukraine over their life-courses, when have such belongings gained significance? How do people relate to their own ancestral pasts vis-à-vis the politicized and conflictual historical interpretations (which family lineages and migrations would be stressed and which omitted)? In which conditions are the family members able to live aside the societal conflict and when is the conflict “activated” in family life (how have family connections to relatives living elsewhere changed)?

Uku Lember defended his PhD in 2014 at Central European University in Budapest. He is interested in the study of late Soviet Union, memory politics and ethnicities; he is also planning a study of queer history of Soviet Estonia. Uku’s dissertation was based on life-story interviews with inter-married families, titled “Silenced Ethnicity: Russian-Estonian Inter-marriages in Soviet Estonia (Oral History).” In 2015, he expanded a similar research agenda to Ukraine, asking how families with differing heritage have adjusted to conflicts in socio-cultural alignments and in which ways have their historical interpretations and imaginations of futures changed in the last years. Recently, he has spent much time in Kyiv, conducting life-story interviews with people from different regions of Ukraine. In the last years, Uku has received research grants for working at Cornell University (Telluride Association), UCL SSEES (Estonian Research Council), Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv (Erasmus Mundus) and New Europe College Institute for Advanced Study in Bucharest. His most recent publication is titled “Temporal horizons in two generations of Russian-Estonian families during late socialism” (in Generational Perspectives on Sociocultural Transformations, ed. by Nugin, Kannike, and Raudsepp, 2016). While at UCRS, Uku works on the project titled “Conflict and conviviality in Ukrainian and Estonian culturally mixed marriages.” Uku Lember’s stay at the UCRS is sponsored by Visby Fellowship of the Swedish Institute.

30 May Guido Sechi (University of Latvia): "Trust in post-USSR societies: the role of institutional perception and social engagement". Chairman: Stefan Hedlund. Language: English.

The debate about the determinants of social capital accumulation in national and sub-national communities is widespread in development studies since the 1990s. In this broad thematical context, a relevant place is occupied by post-socialist transition countries. The peculiarities of fast economic and political transition and their social implications have been widely discussed in literature. Specific issues include: a) the complex relation between informal and formal modes of networking and social engagement; b) the relation between social capital and civil society; c) the role of structural – including institutional - transformation vis-a-vis ‘static’ cultural factors in shaping social capital dynamics. All these issues have been widely, albeit not always systematically, studied in the context of post-USSR countries, leading to often controversial results.

The aims of the presentation are: to outline the main theoretical approaches and findings in social capital studies about transitional post-socialist states, in particular Russia; to discuss how the analysis of such a context could benefit, in theoretical-methodological terms, from the general debate about synergic views and multiscale analyses of social capital accumulation dynamics; and to outline preliminary empirical results about the interplay of institutional perception and generalized trust accumulation in Russia and Ukraine.

Guido Sechi is a researcher in Human Geography at the University of Latvia (Riga, Latvia). He has a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning and Development from the Technical University of Bari (Italy). His research interests mainly focus on social dynamics in geographical communities, with an emphasis on the issues of social capital accumulation and its socio-economic, socio-environmental, and cognitive effects. He is currently focusing on the impact of institutional perception on social capital in the post-Soviet space, and on identity dynamics among Central-East European migrant communities in Western Europe.

12 Jun (NB! Monday at 14:30-16:30) Iryna Starovoyt (Lviv): "The Stories of Holodomor in the Holocaust Lands". Chairman: Li Beenich-Björkman. Language: English. 

Pairing Holodomor and the Holocaust as pandemonic memories cast some light on mnemonic emotions and cultural amnesia in the region. They both were blocked and kept invisible in the Soviet Ukraine; both were detached from the actual places;  both were top-down arrangements executed by local henchmen but the question of collaboration was never raised in all-Ukrainian discussion ever since and perpetrators have melted into the air. The starkness of betrayal by neighbors is retouched. Both in Holodomor and in the Holocaust by shooting sufferers were dying close to home in front of those who knew the victims personally and were (or were not) able to aid them, and then perpetrators often were themselves targeted in the spiral of violence. In both cases the basic code of humanity was wrecked. Their descendants were forbidden to mourn them. Finally, both memories in the last decade started to be implanted or reimported back into the original terrorscapes and not much endure there. Holocaust survivors were (almost) never interrogated about Holodomor and vice versa. So these two horrific memories of being part of the catastrophe of the same place mainly stayed apart for all the generations of testimony.

People here were deprived from modern instruments to publicize and transmit their horror memories – archives, museums, libraries, photography, new books and films; on the level of high and popular culture any mentioning of Ukrainian, Jewish or Polish suffering was strictly regimed. While pre-modern memory practices were shattered along with the distraction of traditional milieux – repressed, killed and displaced families and neighborhoods. There were many memory-bearers who would decide never come back to the sites even if not deprived of any right to return. And there were those who neighboring in time lived their whole lives at the site of another’s terror and hided from sensing this or – symbolically and literally – wished it away. This kind of past was never constructed by them in an immediate contact with their own living space therefore it was shifting around. A hide is another word from the spatial thesaurus. In the discussion on terrorscapes it has to be tacit not as a camouflaged shelter to keep out of sight; right to the opposite, it would be the vast blinding space hiding from the particular anxiety-provoking focus. Atrocity site then is sensed by newly settled groups and individuals as a piece of atrocity-prone area and for that reason nobody claims to cohere it into continuous description. Thus Ukrainian society is wrestling with this dark memory up to this day.

An open talk about the history of Jewish presence and life was not possible in the Soviet Ukraine. However, upon the collapse of the USSR and the change of generations and experiences, previous "installation memory matrixes" (А. Assmann) broke down. Now, large and small Ukrainian cities are going through the transformation shock – the war, the change in mentality, and physical translocation. It will never be the same again, even though on the surface it might seem equal.

What could literature teach us about these experiences? Could we "erase" the memory of the entire community? How could writers and authors of autobiographies process traumatic memories? Does the new work of collective memory help or prevent us from looking in the eye of the horrendous past? These are the main questions I will try to ponder during my seminar.

Iryna Starovoyt is an Associate Professor of Cultural Studies Department at UCU in Lviv (Ukraine) and co-editor of "Ukraina moderna" - uamoderna.com. She has been a guest lecturer at the Higher East European School in Przemysl, Poland (2008-10) and Greifswald University, Germany (2010), and a research associate at Groningen University, the Netherlands (2012-2013). Member of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine since 1997, and the Association of Ukrainian Writers since 1999, she authored three volumes of poetry and a number of essays. Her research and publications have focused on  the disputed memories and cultural counter-narratives of the 20th century Ukraine told across the shifting borders in Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and also covering parts of the Jewish story. Iryna Starovoyt will be visiting UCRS from 9 to 21 June.

13 Jun Ales Michalevic (UCRS): “Asylum-seekers from the CIS countries in Sweden and Poland: A Comparative Study of the Decision-Making Process in Migration”. Chairman: Matthew Kott. Language: English.

The seminar deals with the issue of decision-making process of asylum-seekers and will present findings based on the interviews conducted with asylum-seekers from the CIS countries in Sweden and Poland. The main questions of this research were what are the factors and knowledge that underlie the decision of asylum seekers to immigrate to one country rather than another and what is the difference in this factors and knowledge between those, who are asking for asylum in Sweden and Poland. It was necessary to investigate the degree to which asylum seekers had control over their eventual destination and the amount of choice they had had. In addition, the perception and images of Sweden and Poland, the specific factors which attracted them to those countries and the factors which discouraged them from going elsewhere were examined.  

Alaksiej Michalevic is a researcher and lawyer in Belarus at the Centre for Refugee Support. Mr. Michalevic holds a degree in Political Science and Law from the Belarusian State University and PhD in Social Studies from Polish Academy of Sciences. His scientific interests are EU immigration and asylum policy, post-communist transformation and international human rights law. During his stay at the UCRS he will be working on project entitled “Asylum-seekers from Countries of Eastern Partnership in Sweden and Poland: Comparative Analysis of the Decision-Making Process in Migration”.