Guest Lecture

Changing Environments: Green Activism and Political Transformation in Russia

by Assistant Professor Laura A. Henry
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine

Tuesday, 27 May 2008, at 15:15
at the Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki University Unioninkatu 33, Meeting Room, 2nd Floor

Changing Environments: Green Activism and Political Transformation in Russia

Russia's environmental movement was one of the most dynamic, organized, and effective forms of social activism in the late Soviet period. It appeared to be well-placed to influence the direction and practice of post-Soviet politics. In the current period, however, activists scattered across Russia struggle against severe political and economic challenges to promote green issues, ranging from tiger protection and nuclear safety to environmental education. Based on extensive field work in five Russian regions, this study attempts to identify the factors that promote and inhibit environmental mobilization.
Environmental organizations appear to have clustered into three distinct strategies of activism, each encompassing advantages and drawbacks for the survival of the green movement, the fate of Russia's environment, and the democratization of Russia's politics. In the past, insufficient attention has been paid to the way that activists' earlier experiences, particularly under non-democratic regimes, act as a lens on the current political and economic environment and influence how they conceptualize both obstacles and opportunities for mobilization. Focusing on activists' assessments of the potential for political change reveals a new way of thinking about the Soviet legacy and highlights the way in which activists have been able to "recycle" Soviet-era norms, institutions, and networks in order to achieve their goals.


Biographical Note

Dr. Henry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Her past research has investigated the development of the Russian environmental movement, foreign assistance to Russia for the purpose of civil society development, and Russia's approach toward climate change. She is currently beginning a new project on the social aspects of Russia citizenship in the context of welfare state reform.


Contact person

Meri Kulmala, meri.kulmala[ät], 09-19123627
The Research Project
'Welfare, Gender and Agency in Russia in the 2000s - WGA'


Printable programme (PDF)