Director of the Visiting Fellows Programme
Anna Korhonen
Head of International Affairs
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Eeva Korteniemi
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aleksanteri-fellows [at]

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Location & Connections


Visiting Fellows 2012-2013
Robert Kaiser, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

“Estonia and the Birth of Cyberwar”
Fellowship period: September 1–October 31, 2012 and March 1-31, 2013

Robert KaiserBiography:
Robert Kaiser received his PhD in geography from Columbia University in May 1988. After graduation, he held postdoctoral fellowships at the Kennan Institute and at Duke University’s East-West Center. From August 1991 to May 1996, Dr. Kaiser was an assistant professor of geography at the University of Missouri-Columbia. In August 1996, he jointed the geography department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was awarded tenure in May 1997, and became a full professor in April 2002. Earlier this year, Professor Kaiser received the Leon Epstein Faculty Fellow award for his work in critical political geography. Professor Kaiser has served as director of the Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and he’s currently completing a 3-year term as Chair of the Geography Department there.
Professor Kaiser has published two books: The Geography of Nationalism in
Russia and the USSR (Princeton UP, 1994) and The Russians as the New Minority. Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Soviet Successor States (Westview Press, 1996). He has also published over two dozen articles and book chapters, and is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on the political and cultural geographies of the Estonian-Russian borderlands. Professor Kaiser has conducted research in the areas of Narva – Ivangorod and Setomaa for the past 10 years, and is currently researching how the Bronze Night events in Tallinn (Russian riots over the removal of a WW II monument by state officials) have transformed inter-ethnic and interstate relations there since April 2007. A series of articles and book chapters are in the works for this, and the most recent work coming out of this project is an exploration of the birth of cyberwar, that he’ll be researching during the fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute.

Abstract of current research:
I'm currently working on two research projects: the first looks at the relationship between performativity, events, and becoming, and uses the case of the performativity of ethno-national and ethno-territorial identities in Estonia and the event of the Bronze Night to explore a 'becoming-stateless' - a transformation of statelessness from an abject status for Russians as Estonians' constitutive outside, into a relatively privileged position and a status that more accurately reflects the emotional and socioeconomic needs of this population. This is based on qualitative research conducted in Tallinn and Narva between 2007 and 2011.

The second project is based on one aspect of the Bronze Night event that occurred, and the way in which it was framed. The cyberattacks on governmental and banking websites that accompanied the Bronze Night were successfully represented by Estonian political and military elites as the world's first case of cyberwar. I plan to use Foucault's genealogical approach and his research on biopolitics to explore the context in which cyberwar was born in and through this event, and the consequences of cyberwar's birth for the discursive practices associated with national territorial sovereignty and security. In 2011, I conducted interviews with key stakeholders at the Kaitseliit, at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, and at Estonia's Ministry of Defense in Tallinn. I plan to make research and writing on "Estonia and the Birth of Cyberwar" the focus of my time at the Aleksanteri Institute.

Email: rjkaise1 [at]

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sigrid Kaasik-Krogerus and Jussi Lassila