Director of the Visiting Fellows Programme
Anna Korhonen
Head of International Affairs
tel. +358-(0)50-563 63 07

Coordinator
Eeva Korteniemi
tel. +358-(0)50-4150 571

aleksanteri-fellows [at] helsinki.fi

Aleksanteri Institute
P.O.Box 42 (Unioninkatu 33)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Telephone: +358 (0) 2941 23544

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi
firstname.lastname [at] helsinki.fi

Location & Connections

 

Visiting Fellows 2014-2015

Edwin Bacon, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

“Anticipating Russia’s Future: a Multivocal Perspective"
(October 2014)

Biography:
Edwin Bacon is Reader in Comparative Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. He is the author of six books on Russian politics and history, including Contemporary Russia (3rd edition, 2014) and Securitising Russia: the Domestic Politics of Putin (2006), as well as many articles.  He has worked closely with the policy and consulting worlds for two decades, including serving as Parliamentary Special Adviser to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons, and working as a Senior Research Fellow in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Abstract of current research:
The research which I will carry out at the Aleksanteri Institute forms part of a wider project – ‘Writing Russia’s Future: a Century of Discerning Russia’s Path’ – and analyses the approaches employed in anticipating Russia’s future over the past hundred years. Its overarching objective is to develop a comprehensive account and typology of western and Russian writing about Russia’s future over the past century.

For 21st century analysts trying to anticipate Russia’s future, an understanding of the approaches of earlier decades provides methodological and conceptual context for our own work. It enables us to reconsider our methods in the light of those who have gone before, to identify continuities, discontinuities, and patterns in Russia’s development through the prism of similar analyses across many decades.

This utilitarian benefit represents just one aspect of a project which links social science approaches to forecasting with wider cultural and philosophical understandings of future-oriented writing. Considering previous approaches to Russia’s futures involves engaging with a variety of epistemologies and ontologies in a range of genres, from the ideological ‘certainties’ of the Communist era, to the sober social science language and economic data of official reports, via philosophical and religious treatises, fictional utopias and dystopias, and journalistic ‘op eds’. Writings about Russia’s futures over the past century represent a rich and largely untapped seam of material which tells us as much about the constitution of Russian culture, and the culture of western Russia-watchers, as about Russia and forecasting.

Initial findings from this research area have already been publised in two articles – ‘Writing Russia’s Future: Paradigms, Drivers, and Scenarios’ Europe Asia Studies (2012) 64:7, and ‘Comparing Political Futures: The Rise and Use of Scenarios in Future-Oriented Analysis’, Contemporary Politics (2012) 18:3. My published work on the project so far has focused on the rational-political elements of forecasting.  However, at the Aleksanteri Institue I will range beyond such a focus and engage with the ways in which writers, philosophers, journalists, religious leaders, and so on talk about Russian futures.

Email: e.bacon [at] bbk.ac.uk

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Hanna Smith and Anna-Liisa Heusala