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Anna Korhonen
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Eeva Korteniemi
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Location & Connections


Visiting Fellows 2011-2012



Nadir Kinossian, University of Tromsø, Norway

Fellowship period: mid-February – mid-April 2012
“The Conceit of the Center: “Authoritarian Modernisation” in the Russian Federation”

Dr. Nadir Kinossian is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Tromsø, Norway and Honorary Lecturer at Cardiff University School of City and Regional Planning. Nadir’s research interests include urban and regional governance, borders in the European North and Russia´s contemporary modernisation. The PhD thesis, entitled “Governing a Regional Capital in Russia: the Pursuit of Competitiveness and Identity. A Case Study of Kazan, Russia” was the first attempt to conduct a cross-disciplinary analysis of urban governance in the capital of one of Russia’s ethnic republics. The research helped to link hitherto weakly connected debates on post-socialist cities with Anglo-US literature concerning neo-liberalism, governance and urban entrepreneurialism. The application of western theories to a study of post-socialist cities helped to test their validity within a socio-cultural context that has received relatively limited critical attention in the associated literatures. Amongst other things, the research demonstrated the poverty of labels such as “post-socialism” and “neo-liberalism” to capture the complexity and dynamism of local and regional politics in Russia.

Nadir Kinossian holds a PhD (City and Regional Planning) from Cardiff University, UK (2010), a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University Of Missouri, USA (2005), a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Cardiff University, UK (2002) and a Degree in Architecture from Kazan State Academy of Building and Architecture, Russia (1996). Prior to the current assignment at the University of Tromsø, Nadir worked in Cardiff University (2010-2011), a UK-based consultancy Arup (2006-2009) and municipal government in Russia (2001-2003).

Abstract of current research:
During the last decade, Russian political discourses have become saturated with the language of political and economic modernisation. Both the President and the Government have adopted numerous policies aimed to modernise the Russian economy, to reduce its dependency on exports of raw materials and to enhance its global competitiveness. Russia’s modernisation policies have led to debates in both policy and academic circles in the West. For example, the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that although at “the doctrinal level” Russia clearly wanted to become more liberal, democratic and to integrate with the world economy, “the events on the ground” in Russia still raised concerns (Stubb 2009).

These debates provoke further questions about the nature and dynamics of Russia’s post-socialist transition, the role of the state in economic development and the general compatibility of entrepreneurial economic strategies with growing authoritarianism, ‘partial’ democracy and “faux federalism”. The aim of the proposed research is to put the thesis of “authoritarian modernisation” under scrutiny. Recent projects such as the Skolkovo Innovation Centre near Moscow demonstrate that the Russian government uses a top-down approach to prioritise selected industries and locations and use them as show-cases of the government initiatives. The research will analyse governing and institutional arrangements behind the government initiatives, e.g. the role of state, large state-controlled corporations and will assess the feasibility of these “modernisation by decree” plans.

Email: nadir.kinossian [at]

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Markku Kangaspuro and Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen