Visiting Fellows 2014-2015
Anceschi Luca, University of Glasgow, UK
“The Geo-Strategic Implications of the TAPI Pipeline Project”
Luca Anceschi is Lecturer in Central Asian Studies at the University of Glasgow. A graduate of the University of Napoli L’Orientale and of La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia), his research has been mostly concerned with the Politics and International Relations of post-Soviet Central Asia. His first book, Turkmenistan’s foreign policy – Positive Neutrality and the Consolidation of the Turkmen regime (Routledge 2008), represented the first book-length account of Turkmenistani foreign policy published in Western languages. His articles have appeared on Central Asian Survey, Europe-Asia Studies, Nationalities Papers,and the Journal of Arabian Studies. He is currently completing a monograph entitled Kazakhstan’s foreign policy – Regime neo-Eurasianism in the Nazarbaev era (forthcoming with Routledge).
In early October 2014, Gazprom announced its decision to suspend purchases of natural gas from Central Asian providers, opting not to engage in any future negotiation to renew existing contracts with key regional exporters, including Uzbekistan and, most notably, Turkmenistan. While capturing on the one hand the impact that recently imposed economic sanctions are exerting on the Russian economy, this announcement raises on the other a number of critical questions on the long-term energy strategy of post-Soviet Turkmenistan – Central Asia’s largest exporter of natural gas. As Gazprom announced its eventual withdrawal from the Central Asian gas market, and with the Turkmenistani-Iranian energy relationship entering a phase of decline, gas trade with China now remains the only long-term option for the commercialisation of Turkmenistan’s natural gas. This scenario, given the one-dimensional nature of the Turkmenistani economy, is likely to raise a few eyebrows in Ashgabat, where successive regimes have pursued – with different emphases at different junctures – a fairly consistent strategy of diversification for Turkmenistan’s gas linkages.
Within this strategy, a relatively significant, if at times rhetorical, role has been played by the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline – an ambitiously designed infrastructure project that aims to connect Turkmenistan’s eastern gas fields (and the giant Galkynysh field more in particular) with the economies located on the Indian sub-continent. In early July 2014, the conclusion of a major operational agreement involving the four state-partners removed the final obstacles to the full implementation of the TAPI framework. The entry into line of the TAPI gas pipeline – currently scheduled for late 2017 – will inevitably reshape Turkmenistan’s energy outlook and, more widely, is expected to revolutionise the geopolitics of Eurasian natural gas. It is precisely to these closely interconnected processes that this study devotes its core attention.
The study aims to: Contextualise recent developments in the operationalisation of the TAPI pipeline project; Investigate the specific strategies through which Turkmenistan’s energy policy reacted to the progress of the TAPI framework; and Relate TAPI’s operationalisation prospects to the gas strategies devised by key Eurasian exporters (Russia, Iran) and importers (China).
Email: Luca.Anceschi [at] glasgow.ac.uk
Burkhanov Aziz, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan
“Media and Nationalism: National Identity and Language Discourse in the Media Outlets of Kazakhstan”
Aziz Burkhanov is an Assistant Professor at Nazarbayev University (Astana, Kazakhstan). Dr. Burkhanov received his PhD at Indiana University (Department of Central Eurasian Studies) in 2013 and his dissertation research dealt with national identity policies of post-Soviet Kazakhstan and the public discourse on identity and language issues in Kazakhstan’s Kazakh- and Russian-language newspapers. He completed his B.A. in History at Al-Farabi National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan, followed by an M.A. in Political Science at the University of Paris-II Panthéon-Assas. His areas of interest include national identity and language policies, theories of nationalism, and current political developments and governance in Central Asia.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan, like many other post-Soviet states, had experimented with a search for a new sense of national identity. Despite calls and temptations for more revengeful and nationalistic policies, the country’s leadership depicts Kazakhstan as a model of a peaceful coexistence of multiple ethnic groups and at several occasions mentioned a need to form a ‘Kazakhstani nation’, based on the civic supranational identity. This study illustrates how the Kazakhstani supranational identity project is reflected in the Kazakh- and Russian-language media outlets and how do the media shape and channel societal reaction to the government’s nation-building efforts. By analyzing media coverage of national identity policies and interethnic relations, this paper suggests that there are different attitudes towards ‘Kazakhstani nation’ highlighting the civic-nationhood regardless of ethnic background and a ‘Kazakhstani’ identity understood as a supranational identity on top of ethnic identifications; thus, a community of all ethnic groups living in the country. If the former was met with resistance because of the anxieties about cultural loss and potential disappearance of Kazakhs as a result of mixing with other ethnic groups, the latter seems to enjoy a larger degree of acceptance as a marker of civic identity, at least in the Russian-speaking domestic political discourse.
Email: aziz.burkhanov [at] nu.edu.kz
Salaev, Nodirbek, Tashkent State Law University, Uzbekistan
“Crime prevention: Issues of reforming the penitentiary system of Uzbekistan (based on the experience of prison policy of Finland)”
Salaev Nodirbek Saparbaevich is an Acting Associate Professor of the Department of "Criminal Law and Criminology" Tashkent State Law University. In 2012, he defended his PhD thesis on "Violation of regulations of relations among military servicemen who are not directly subordinate to one another".
During bachelor’s studies his thoughts came to be occupied with the problems of criminal law and criminology. As a result of these interests, he began to study the history of criminal punishment in Uzbekistan and internationally. In 2005, together with his mentor, he co-authored a monograph “Death penalty: in the past, today and in the future”. After graduating with honors, he worked as a law teacher in the middle school, and later as an assistant of public attorney. During his work, he witnessed the fact that in practice, the punishment of imprisonment applied by the courts often is not effective. For this reason, to deepen his knowledge in this area he went to study for master's and PhD degrees in the direction of Criminal Law and Criminology; criminal law enforcement. Nodirbek has written more than 10 scientific articles and 4 monographs on various problems of criminal law and criminology. It has been six years since he continued his career as a lecturer of Criminal Law and Criminology at the Tashkent State University of Law. Currently, he is engaged in the study and research named “Actual issues of reforming the penitentiary system for crime prevention in modern Uzbekistan”.
The study examines current problems of prison reform in Uzbekistan through a comparative analysis of theoretical and conceptual questions in Finnish and Uzbek prison legislations, as well as problems in the actual practices of implementation. The rationale for the study is to seek solutions to improving the Uzbek penitentiary and crime-prevention system. This system is faced with a high percentage of prisoners returning to prison after having served a prior sentence and with difficulties in achieving the desired objectives of criminal punishment. The Finnish case is used in order to acquire new criminological knowledge on combatting crime and on crime prevention, inside and outside of the prison environment. This study conducts an analysis of major innovations in the penitentiary and prison policies of the state, and of the system of institutions and specialized bodies enforcing criminal penalties. These issues are being examined on the levels of legislation and law enforcement. Library and archival sources are used for studying the history of formation and foundation of criminal and criminal-executive law in Finland.
Email: nodir-law [at] mail.ru
Slavomír Horák, Department of Russian and Eastern European Studies, Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic
"Ideology and Regime-Building in Turkmenistan. The Writers, Players and Customers"
Slavomír Horák has a tenure track position as the Research Fellow at the Department of Russian and East European Studies of the Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague. He holds a PhD in International Area Studies from the same institute. Horák’s research covers political, social, and economic issues in the former USSR, with a focus on Central Asia, particularly on Turkmenistan's domestic issues, such as informal politics, as well as state- and nation-building. Horák is an author of several books on Central Asian and Afghanistan internal developments. He has also published numerous articles in Czech, Russian and English scholarly journals including Problems of Post-Communism, The China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, Central Asia and the Caucasus and Politeks.
The creation and building of new regimes in Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union were accompanied by many significant changes in the political, social or economic spheres. New elites and, in particular, new presidents gradually transformed themselves from regional Soviet communist party bosses into enthusiastic promoters of nationalism. This phenomenon manifested itself publicly in the creation of a new system of values whose aim was to compensate and substitute for the ideological vacuum that emerged after the collapse of communism.
The penetration of the new national ideologies into the everyday life of the Central Asian peoples through mass media or education, together with the lack of pluralism and access to alternative viewpoints, has gradually formed the way of thinking in these societies. Thus, ideology, along with the country’s political culture, political or party system, and economy or social system, has become the key instrument of regime-building.
Central Asian ideologies are (at first glance) not connected to international politics and seem only to serve the internal purposes of the regimes. However, the existing outcomes of the project have shown that both the internal and foreign policies of the respective countries are often based on the ideology which determines the regime’s character.
The current project aims to analyse the correlation between elite formation (with the central figure of the president) and their image-making in case of post-Soviet Turkmenistan. The research starts with an analysis of the local elites and their transformation into de facto super-personal regimes, i.e. finding out the reasons for such concentration of power in the hands of one single person. The first part of the research focuses on the factual rise of president Niyazov of Turkmenistan, the creation of his entourage, the mechanisms of cadre changes, and the crystallization of his innermost circle, which was (as I assume) crucial for creation of his image. In the second part, the ‘achievements’ of the process of ideology creation in Turkmenistan are analysed, and in the third part I focus on the customers of the ideology.
Considering the complex character of the project and its focus on Turkmenistan as the least -researched country in the region, the project is unique in the worldwide context.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Hanna Smith and Suvi Kansikas
Natalie Koch, Department of Geography, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, USA
"Synecdoche and the subject: Spectacular power and state-making in Central Asia"
Natalie Koch is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She received her PhD in Geography in 2012 from the University of Colorado, Boulder, upon completion of her doctoral dissertation, The city and the steppe: Territory, technologies of government and Kazakhstan’s new capital. Koch has published a number of peer-reviewed articles in journals including Eurasian Geography and Economics, Political Geography, Urban Geography and Environment and Planning A. Although Koch primarily positions herself as a political geographer, as well as a ‘Central Asianist,’ her work has always been highly interdisciplinary, with a focus on state-making, nationalism, geopolitics, spectacle, and authoritarianism.
In the study of highly-centralized political systems, geographers have long attended to the many manifestations of spectacle through performances and built landscapes. These studies are overwhelmingly about one case alone, and rarely situate this case as part of a broader grammar of ‘sovereign pomp.’ In my current book project, Synecdoche and the subject: Spectacular power and state-making in Central Asia, I propose that to understand the spectacular in such centralized systems, it is necessary to conceptualize it as a generalized trope – more specifically, one that operates on the basis of synecdoche.
Synecdoche – the part standing for the whole and vice versa – is a much-overlooked spatial trope that extends far beyond the realm of rhetoric. To date, there has been no systematic analysis of how it works in the geographic imagination, nor the political effects of its use. My book project takes up this task through a targeted case study of three authoritarian Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Arguing that synecdoche is the necessary mental ‘trick’ that underlies spectacle, I illustrate how this operates within the realm of state-making and subjectivization in the post-Soviet era, as actors in these three countries reconfigure their polities. In this regard, I develop two key arguments through a wide range of examples.
First, I argue that ‘celebratory’ spectacles, which are intensely manifested in these countries’ capital cities, can only be understood together with the ‘punitive’ spectacles of the hinterlands. That is, through the use of synecdoche, the geopolitical gaze of observers (domestic and foreign alike) is strategically directed toward the ‘center.’
Second, I argue that the spectacular projects in post-Soviet Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan reflect the fact that their political systems are predominated by what Michel Foucault has termed ‘sovereign’ modes of ‘governmentality.’ I extend Foucault’s analysis of spectacle as a technology of government to explore subject-making practices within authoritarian polities. I also illustrate how spectacle, operating on the basis of the synecdochic imaginary, is bound up with what I term ‘spectator citizenship’ – a set of subjectification practices particular to sovereign power relations, in which the governor’ (i.e. the king, ruling regime, etc.) is understood as benevolent and giving, and the ‘governed’ (i.e. citizens, subjects, etc.) passive and thankful.
Birkbeck, University of London, UK
“Anticipating Russia’s Future: a Multivocal Perspective"
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.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Hanna Smith and Anna-Liisa Heusala
Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences (INION), Moscow, Russia
“EU – Ukraine – Russia Trilateral Political Dialogue and Economic Cooperation as an Alternative to Geopolitical Rivalry in Eastern Europe”
(August – September 2014)
Dmitry Efremenko is Deputy Director of the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences (INION). He completed his PhD thesis (Kandidat nauk) in philosophy at the Institute for Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, and German-Russian College, University of Karlsruhe, Germany (2000). He was a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society, Graz, Austria (2000-2001), visiting Fellow at the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary (2003), guest researcher at the Universities of Potsdam and Karlsruhe, Germany (2005, 2009). Since 2003 he works at the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences (INION) as a senior researcher (2003-2007, Department of Political Science), head of the Department of Sociology (2007-2014), deputy director (since 2013). In 2007 he completed his Habilitation thesis (Doktor nauk) in political science on the global environmental politics.
His current research interests are primarily focusing on the issues of postbipolar world order and political transformations in Post-Soviet space, analysis of Russian foreign policy. Dmitry Efremenko is author of five research monographs, dozens research papers and articles in Russian and international journals; he is editor of the Journal of scientific abstracts “Sociologia” (“Sociology”) and co-editor of “Sociologicheskij Ezhegodnik” (“Sociological Yearbok”). He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled “Posttraumatic Russia. Social and Political Transformations under Conditions of Turbulence in International Relations” which will include a chapter on the origin and consequences of Ukrainian crisis 2013-2014.
Abstract of current research:
Ukrainian crisis of 2013-2014 can be considered as a “geopolitical earthquake” with a long term consequences for the world order. The struggle for Ukraine’s geopolitical choice unfolded in strict conformity with zero sum game logic. By excluding one another from initiatives promoting engagement and integration with post-Soviet states, the EU and Russia have created an inadvertent and unnecessary rivalry. An alternative to the geopolitical rivalry implies fundamental changes in relations between Russia and the European Union, and Ukraine’s integration into this system of relations as a full-fledged participant. The key to this strategy should be based on recognizing Ukraine as a key factor in Russian-European interaction and devising an inclusive approach to all parties.
The objectives of the project are:
The research stay will follow my previous activity within the framework of scientific program “Prospects of Coordinated Socio-economic Development of Russia and Ukraine in the European Context”, run by the Russian Academy of Sciences (2012 – 2013), and my participation in drafting the project proposal “The Challenges and Opportunities of Eurasian Economic Integration” for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Laxenburg, Austria). My scientific work at the Aleksanteri Insititute will be also an extension of my previous analysis of interest groups and ideological trends in Russian foreign policy under Putin-Medvedev regime. The main outcome of the research visit will be an article on the topic (in English) and a chapter to monograph (in Russian).
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Markku Kangaspuro and Suvi Kansikas
University of Innsbruck, Austria
“Eurasianism and Lev N. Gumilev's Heritage in Recent Russian Cinema"
Christine Engel has specialized on Russian culture, first of all on literature and film. After her studies at the universities of Graz, St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and Innsbruck she dedicated her first doctoral thesis to the literary movement of the so-called Young Prose during the Thaw-period. In her PhD thesis (Habilitation) she was concerned with the changes in the Russian literary system during the years of perestroika. As a follow-up of her interest in cultural processes in Russia she wrote the chapter on contemporary Russian literature in Russische Literaturgeschichte (22011, ed. K. Staedtke). Her recent studies on Viktor Erofeev and Evgenii Popov will appear in 2014 in the comprehensive volume Die Russische Kurzgeschichte (ed. B. Zelinsky). Back in the 1980s she took up her film studies and edited the volume Geschichte des sowjetischen und russischen Films in 1999. A number of her articles are dedicated to the interconnections between literature, film, and film adaptations of literature. In her lectures and classes as a professor for Russian literature and culture in the Slavic Department of Innsbruck University it has been important to her to connect contemporary cultural discourses with central key-discourses of Russian intellectual history. One of the ways to achieve this with the students was the translation and publication of contemporary short fiction. At the time being Christine Engel takes a closer look at the influence of Neo-Eurasian thought on Russian cinema.
Abstract of current research:
Titled Eurasianism and Lev N. Gumilev’s Heritage in Recent Russian Cinema, my envisioned chapter offers an analysis of films that show the ongoing conglomeration of imperialism, patriotism and orthodoxy in Russia. A number of films draw on historical events and are instrumental in constructing the history of Russia as one long and continuous sequence of great historic moments. One particular variety of historical construction is found in films which look at the relationship between the mediaeval Russian principalities and the Golden Horde, including Mongol (2007, dir. Sergei Bodrov sen.), Taina Chingis Khaana (2009, dir. Andrei Borisov) and Orda (2012, dir. Andrei Proshkin).These films share a glorification of an iron-willed ruler who creates a gigantic empire by demanding unconditional discipline. The message of films like these is that Mongolian brutality and Russian capacity for suffering form a potent mix that lays the mental foundation for an empire. Moreover, in this conglomeration one can see clear echoes of neo-Eurasianism, with the thought of Lev. N. Gumilev (1912–1992) playing a particularly significant role. Gumilev's writings cover a wide range of subjects with which the films can engage. These include his biologistic approach, his theory of history, his theories on ethnogenesis, and Russia's relationship to Europe, to name just a few. His ideas turn up in both mainstream cinema and art house productions with their very different agendas. My research project will look primarily at films by Nikita Mikhalkov, Sergei Bodrov and Aleksei Balabanov. A separate section will be devoted to the above-mentioned 'Mongol films'. Another aspect of the project concerns the private entanglements of the film-makers among neo-Eurasianist circles and organisations such as the Gumilev Centre in Moscow and its St. Petersburg branch. Drawing on actor-network-theory, the study aims to obtain a more concrete picture of the relationships between cultural spheres and political Eurasianism.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sanna Turoma and Ira Österberg
Smith and Amherst Colleges in Massachusetts, USA
“In Search of Russian Modernity: Jakboson, Lévi-Strauss and the Making of Structuralism"
(April - June 2015)
Sergey Glebov is an Assistant Professor of History at Smith and Amherst Colleges in Massachusetts, USA. He received his MA in Nationalism Studies from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, and his PhD from Rutgers University. Sergey Glebov is a founding co-editor of Ab Imperio: Studies in Nationalism and New Imperial History in the Post-Soviet Space. His research focuses on the intellectual history of the former Russian Empire and USSR. In particular, he has published on the history of the Eurasianist movement, history of Siberia and Siberian regionalism, and history of describing diversity in imperial Russia. At the core of these studies is the question about how ethnic, cultural, linguistic and social diversity of the imperial state and society impacted Russia's transition to modernity.
Abstract of current research:
At Aleksanteri Institute Sergey Glebov will focus on exploring the vision of a specifically Russian (Eurasian) modernity articulated in the writings of Roman Jakobson in the 1920s - 1930s and the ways in which this vision influenced the rise of structuralism. Glebov is planning to spend the time at the Institute analyzing Jakobson's own writings, his interactions with the participants in the Eurasianist movement, as well as the decades long correspondence between Jakobson and Claude Lévi-Strauss to understand to what extent the "systemic study of Eurasia" of the late 1920s and early 1930s influenced early works of Claude Lévi-Strauss and structuralism at large.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sanna Turoma and Saara Ratilainen
University of British Columbia, Canada
“Opposition and Dissent in Petro-States: International Oil Markets and Political Mobilization"
Olga Kniazeva (formerly Olga Beznosova) obtained a PhD degree in political science from the University of British Columbia in November 2013. Her dissertation was entitled “Opposition and Dissent in Petro-States: International Oil Markets and Political Mobilization in Russia.” She is as a sessional instructor in comparative politics at the department of political science, University of British Columbia, and also manages a portfolio of complex multifaceted projects involving federal, provincial, and First Nations governance structures and organizations. Olga’s research interests include Russia’s political economy of oil and regime transitions, Russia’s welfare state, state-society relations, Russia’s energy policy and strategy (including development of renewable energy in a petro-state), and informal institutions.
Abstract of current research:
Many observers today find themselves pondering the role of oil and gas sector in political economy and politics more generally. Oil is the fundamental force that runs underneath all political currents in petro-states. It lubricates state-society relations. It intervenes in domestic and foreign policies. What is the relationship between natural resources and democracy, and how can oil-rich countries escape the trap of oil-led development often associated with misuse of power? Are petroleum-exporting states indeed “cursed” by this abundance and doomed to remain authoritarian in the years to come?
I examine the dynamics of regime transitions between authoritarian and democratic rule in pre- and post-communist Russia. The main contribution of this project is to identify precise mechanisms of how oil rent fluctuations translate into political regime transition. Using direct evidence I test the hypotheses that external economic shocks shape the state’s behavior and mass political contention. I find that the critical (and missing) link between political economy and the resulting regime type is in state-society relations in the form of an oil-based social contract. As a result the state is seen as a provider and guarantor of public good and social benefits and hence the societal actors give up their bargaining power in order to obtain those perks. The society itself invites and approves of the state dominance. Thus political contention declines and democracy deteriorates.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen and Emma Hakala
CERCEC, EHESS, Paris, France
“The Building of a Socialist Community. Social Ties in Czechoslovakia and Poland (1929-1989)”
Fellowship period: June, 2015
Roman Krakovsky is Associate Researcher at Centre d’études des mondes russe, caucasien et centre-européen at EHESS in Paris. He graduated in International Relations from Inalco in Paris and holds a PhD in Contemporary History from the Sorbonne University. Previously, he held a Research Fellowship at Cefres in Prague, at Open Society Archives in Budapest and at Polish History Museum in Warsaw. His book, Réenchanter le monde. L’espace et le temps en Tchécoslovaquie communiste, will be published by Publications de la Sorbonne in 2014.
The leading theme of his research is the analysis of the mechanisms of social cohesion in Central and Eastern Europe under communist rule. In his early work, he investigated how communist regimes tried to create, maintain and renew the sense of belonging to the socialist community by manipulating symbolic forms such as emblems, monuments or rituals. He later analysed how Czechoslovak communist regime shaped social frameworks of time and space which provide a common ground for everyday life and determine how individuals and groups perceive their environment. His PhD Thesis dedicated to these issues received The Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History of the Wiener Library (London), Prix d’histoire sociale of the Foundation Maison des sciences de l’homme (Paris) and Accessit Thesis Prize of the Varenne Foundation (Paris).
Abstract of current research:
The aim of his current project is to analyse social ties in Poland and Czechoslovakia in a broader chronological perspective. The social ties include any relationship between two or more individuals. Shaped by shared rules, values and identities, they contribute to define the individual’s standing in society and the feeling of belonging to the community. The soviet-type regimes intended to develop after 1945 an alternative project of society. By planning to create a new man and a new way of developing interpersonal relations, they meant to reinvent social ties. The analysis of these ties is therefore a prerequisite of any study of communist regimes. It permits to observe how the individual connected to others in an environment where he was strongly associated to the collective. It permits also to study how citizens’ community and common interest were defined in regimes where the principles of democratic dialogue were not respected.
During his research fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, he will work on the paper analysing how the orphans were institutionally taken in charge in Czechoslovakia and in Poland following the Great Depression and the Second World War.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Katalin Miklossy and Markku Kangaspuro
Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
“Interreligious Dialogue for Peacebuilding in the Balkans: A Gender-Critical Perspective"
Ina Merdjanova is a senior researcher and an adjunct assistant professor in religious studies at Trinity College Dublin. She previously served as director of the Center for Interreligious Dialogue and Conflict Prevention at the Scientific Research Department of Sofia University, Bulgaria (2004-2010). She had held visiting fellowships at Oxford University, Birmingham University, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at Edinburgh University, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the Central European University in Budapest and Radboud University in Nijmegen. Dr. Merdjanova has also won research grants from the British Academy, DAAD, Volkswagen Foundation, the Unites State Institute of Peace, and the European Commission. She is the author of four books and numerous articles on religion and politics in post-communist society. Her research has been focused religion, nationalism and civil society in Eastern Europe, interreligious dialogue and peacebuilding in the Balkans, Islam in the Balkans and in Western Europe, gender activism, religion, politics and society in Turkey. Her most recent publications include Religion as a Conversation Starter: Interreligious Dialogue for Peacebuilding in the Balkans (with Patrice Brodeur; Continuum, 2009), and Rediscovering the Umma: Muslims in the Balkans between Nationalism and Transnationalism (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Abstract of current research:
During my fellowship at Aleksanteri Institute, I will work on an article on gender, religion and peacebuilding in the Balkans. Drawing on a sociological theory of interreligious dialogue for peacebuilding, which I developed together with Patrice Brodeur in “Religion as a Conversation Starter: Interreligious Dialogue for Peacebuilding in the Balkans,” I will use the case of the Balkans to suggest a further step, a “gender-critical turn”, in the theory and practice of interreligious dialogue as a method in conflict transformation and peacebuilding. My gendered critique is grounded in a feminist analysis, and yet it expands its strategies of deconstruction to include further hierarchies of power beyond a maleness/femaleness polarity. It critically engages other culturally and politically produced dichotomies, too, such as Christianity versus Islam (specifically in the case of the Balkans), and religious hierarchies (the invariably male clergy and leadership) versus lay people (men and women) in both Christian and Muslim communities throughout the Balkans. Highlighting the significant role and contribution of women in interreligious dialogue, while at the same time emphasizing the interrelatedness rather than polarity of “maleness” and “femaleness,” will serve to re-describe definitions of interreligious dialogue for peacebuilding in a more inclusive and participatory way.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Aino Saarinen and Kaarina Aitamurto
University of Birmingham, UK
"Russia’s Worthless Dowry? – An Ethnographic Study of the Blue-Collar Monotown"
(August - September 2014)
Jeremy Morris (DPhil Sussex) is Senior Lecturer in Russian Studies and Co-Director of the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Birmingham. His research interests include informal economy, class, precarity and postsocialism more generally. His current research is focused on ethnographic approaches to understanding ‘actually lived experience’ and personhood in the former Soviet Union. Before coming to Birmingham in 2005 he taught at Durham, Nottingham and Sussex.
With extensive in-country experience and knowledge of contemporary Russia, having lived and worked there in the 1990s, Jeremy’s research lies at the confluence of anthropology, sociology, area studies and cultural studies. He has recently received research funding to investigate the negotiation of worker identity under postsocialism (British Academy), and a Marie Curie grant looking at alternative approaches to development in the post-socialist region. His current research addresses two key debates in social research and area studies. It evaluates the transformative power of neoliberalism on the public and private identities of people in Russia and helps theorize this experience within the context of postsocialism and globalisation. Jeremy has recently published an edited book on informal economies in post-socialist countries and is completing a follow-up volume. In addition he has a monograph in preparation on everyday working-class life in Russia. His research has been published in Ethnography, European Urban and Regional Studies, and numerous other journals.
Abstract of current research:
For my Fellowship at Aleksanteri, I will complete work on the project: ‘Russia’s Worthless Dowry? – An Ethnographic Study of the Blue-Collar Monotown’. This is a book-length work of holistic, interdisciplinary social science representing every-day lived experience in an urban space and based on in-depth ethnographic research materials gathered since 2009. The project addresses a number of tensions in area studies and the scholarship on the region: the tendency for social science to focus on economistic issues at the expense of the wider meaning of lived experience (recent work in geography on post-socialist survival); the East as a lens that merely reflects western-centric concerns and norms (transition frames and democratization narratives); the privileging of western theory in the analysis of local ‘data’; academic agency and the role of western researchers as privileged bearers of knowledge about the region in English-speaking contexts. In each case my grounded ethnography and the indwelling of the researcher in material serves to draw attention to these ongoing tensions in scholarly work on Russia produced in the English-speaking world. The role of ethnography – giving voice to the researched and allowing the word of the researched to be generative of categories of analysis and theory, should be of interest to a wide scholarly audience.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Meri Kulmala and Hanna Smith
Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic
“Pragmatic Radicalism of the ‘Long’ 1970s: Ideology and Social Consensus in the East and West”
(March - May 2015)
Michal Pullmann is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Economic and Social History, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. He teaches social history of the 20th century, history of historiography, theory and methodology of history, and the history of communist dictatorships. He published a book on Czechoslovak perestroika and the demise of communism in Czechoslovakia (Konec experimentu: Přestavba a pád komunismu v Československu [The End of Experiment: Perestroika and the Demise of Communism in Czechoslovakia], Prague 2011).
Abstract of current research:
At the Aleksanteri Institute Pullmann is working on a new project “Pragmatic Radicalism of the ‘Long’ 1970s: Ideology and Social Consensus in the East and West” investigating the patterns of the social consensus in East and West in the “long” 1970s. Within the context of major economic changes, new technologies, that affected both production and the everyday life of citizens, expansion of consumerism, and new lifestyles in social and cultural life, the project focuses on the changing patterns of the social consensus both in East and West.
Conceptually, the project tries to utilize post-revisionist writings in the study of state socialism, especially in regard to ideology. It focuses on a close relation and a productive junction between the form of official doctrine on the one hand, and its realization in everyday life on the other hand. In both the East and the West, we can trace a specific tension – and co-existence – between the official ideological language and its everyday adoption and subversion. The project traces the specific adoption and normalization of ideological language in respective countries, and seeks possible general patterns in creating and reproducing social consensus in the East and West. How were these transformations related to a rising plurality of everyday attitudes and expectations in all societies of that time? How was this shift towards normalized and rather formalistic ideologies (though legitimizing “hard” property relations in both the East and the West) connected with the fact that people were increasingly acting as consumers, both in their expectations towards central state policies, and in their close environments? How did these shifts affect the legitimacy of redistributive practices typical for the earlier period of reconstruction?
The stay at the Aleksanteri Institute will be devoted to the Soviet case – a highly normalized ideology of “developed socialism” under Brezhnev, and its significance for the changing patterns of social consensus in the Soviet Union.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Katalin Miklossy and Sari Autio-Sarasmo
Indiana University, USA
“The Anatomy of Evolution"
(15 August - 15 November 2014)
Regina Smyth is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Indiana University. Her research and teaching explores the evolution of state society relations in the post-Communist region, focusing on the conditions that thwart effective state representation of social interests in new democratic regimes. Specifically, Smyth’s work focuses on the pathologies of party formation in new democracies, the role of parties in legislative decision-making, the nature of patronage linkages in post-Communist society, and most recently, the efficacy of protest as a mechanism of political change in electoral authoritarian regimes. Her book Candidate Strategies and Electoral Competition in the Russian Federation: Democracy without Foundation (2006) is published by Cambridge University Press. Her work has appeared in The American Political Science Review, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Europe-Asia Studies, Post-Communist Affairs, Politics and Society and other journal focused on regional politics. Her current project places the Russian experience in the context of modern electoral authoritarian regimes. This book project explores the social response to the Kremlin’s strategy to secure popular support through a mix of institutional manipulation, symbolic appeals, and coercion, focusing on the ways in which the 2011-2012 protest cycle altered the relative distribution of these factors in that strategy.
Abstract of current research:
Smyth’s current project, titled The Anatomy of Evolution, places the Russian experience in the context of modern electoral authoritarian regimes, with sustained attention to mass politics. The point of departure of the study is the 2011-2012 elections and the resulting protest events. Relying on broad literature on contentious politics, this book-length project explores the social response to the Kremlin’s strategy to secure popular support through a mix of institutional manipulation, symbolic appeals, and coercion. Relying on unique survey data, focus group data and in-depth interviews, Smyth examines the nature of political mobilization in the anti-Kremlin protests and pro-Kremlin rallies, comparing these active participants to a sample of non-participants in order to understand the meaning on non-participation. The latter portion of the manuscript focuses on the Kremlin’s strategic response to protest and the movement’s efforts to transform itself in the face of this new aggressive regime.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Jussi Lassila and Jukka Pietiläinen
University of Southampton, UK
“Masculinities and Wellbeing in Contemporary Russia”
(1 August- 17 September 2014)
Charlie Walker is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Southampton, UK, and Honorary Research Associate at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, UK. Prior to joining Southampton he was CEELBAS Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Social Inequality in Russia and Eastern Europe at the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre, St Antony's College, University of Oxford. He completed his PhD at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham, in 2007.
Charlie Walker’s research interests lie in the sociologies of youth, gender, work and education, with a geographical focus on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. His research has explored processes of social stratification surrounding youth transitions to adulthood, focusing in particular on the influences of class, gender and place in shaping differential educational and labour market outcomes amongst young people in post-socialist states. His contributions to the field include the monograph Learning to Labour in post-Soviet Russia (Routledge 2011) and the edited collection (with Svetlana Stephenson) Youth and Social Change in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union (Routledge 2012).
Charlie Walker is currently conducting research on men and masculinities in Russia, examining men’s gendered performances at home, work and leisure and exploring the relationship between these performances and different dimensions of wellbeing. He is also co-investigator in a project exploring the wellbeing of the elderly and of families with young children in Moscow.
Alongside his research interests, Charlie Walker has interests in qualitative and ethnographic research methods. He is editor (with Sue Heath) of Innovations in Youth Research (Palgrave 2012).
Abstract of current research:
During his visit to the Aleksanteri Institute Charlie Walker will be analyzing data from his project ‘Masculinities and Wellbeing in Contemporary Russia’, conducted between October 2012 and October 2013. The study explores the changing ways in which working-class men ‘do’ masculinity in three spheres of their lives – work, home and leisure – and the relationship between these gendered performances and their wellbeing. As such, the project seeks to move away from the notion of a ‘male crisis’ in Russia rooted in an understanding of masculine identity and wellbeing as synonymous with work. Instead, it explores the different ways in which men have responded to change in various aspects of their lives, and the complex ways in which performances and validations of masculinity in these spheres variously impact upon their wellbeing. The main bulk of the data produced by this study consists in extended interviews with sixty skilled and semi-skilled male manual workers between the age of twenty-five and forty in a range of industrial occupations in the cities of Moscow and Ul’yanovsk. These interviews were complemented by observations while spending time with various sub-groups of the men in leisure and family contexts.
A key strand in the work emerging from the study so far has been the ability of the men in the study to cope with the wider cultural transformations that have positioned manual workers and manual labour itself at the bottom of Russia’s emerging symbolic economy. While theorists of neoliberalism and neoliberalisation point to a devaluing and even abjectification (Tyler 2013) of those without access to the self-making resources of the neo-liberal subject, the men in the present study were able to construct value across a range of sites, such that subjective wellbeing was shored up by a variety of masculine performances across the three sites of work, leisure and home. Of much greater significance as a threat to men’s wellbeing, both physically and materially, was their long-term economic marginality and difficulties associated with, for example, the acquisition of housing, and related threats to health stemming from overwork and illicit forms of employment. Indeed, against a background of more than a decade of almost continuous economic growth, most of the men remained in search of ‘stability’, especially those in Ul’yanovsk, and talked of the elusiveness of stability despite the significant improvements to their situations since the 1990s (which older respondents had experienced). In turn, material difficulties had a direct impact on the men’s subjective wellbeing by limiting their marital prospects – a number of respondents were single men living with their parents in their late thirties or early forties. Overall, the research suggests that theories positing the ‘end of work’ (Bauman 1998) and the ‘abjectification’ of the working class under conditions of neo-liberalism risk ignoring not only the subtle ways in which social actors create value through classed and gendered everyday practices in different life domains, but also, the ongoing economic marginalization experienced by younger manual workers, in Russia as in Western Europe (Roberts 2013).
During his time at the Aleksanteri Institute Charlie Walker intends to continue analysis of the data from the project and draft an article addressing the themes outlined above. It would draw upon an analysis of work-based subcultures, bodily practices at work and in leisure, leisure/domestic activities such as DIY, and aspects of consumption, all of which would provide the basis for an argument regarding the creation of ‘value’ through everyday performances of classed masculinity amongst Russian working-class men.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Meri Kulmala and Elena Minina
Department of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY), USA
“Why Does Corruption Persist in Putin’s Russia? Political Will and Controlled Corruption in Authoritarian Regimes”
Dr. Yuliya Zabyelina is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, New York. Her research interests include various topics in international criminal justice, and particularly, transnational organized crime and corruption.
Before moving to the United States, she held a postdoctoral position at the University of Edinburgh and has completed several visiting fellowships in North America and Europe, including, the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) (2013), Moscow Carnegie Endowment for Peace (2010), and Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) at George Mason University (2010). Her scholarly work appeared in Trends in Organized Crime, Global Crime, Crime, Law and Social Change (with Jana Arsovska), Journal of Peacebuilding and Development,Cooperation and Conflict (with Irina Kustova), and Jane’s Intelligence Review.
Abstract of current research:
According to orthodox perspectives in political science, the relationship between democracy and corruption is grossly negative: the less democracy, the more corruption. Although this conventional perspective on corruption has been the mainstream in research for decades, a small body of revisionist and critical studies has emerged to question this position. Some of these studies suggest that the correlation between authoritarian modes of political rule and corruption may have positive outcomes (Nye 1967). Studies on authoritarianisms, for instance, suggest that some authoritarian regimes can control levels of corruption and the scope of informal distribution mechanisms (Andvig et al 2000: 53). By doing so, they may boost political efficiency and increase not only personal but also public wealth (Coolidge and Rose-Ackerman 2000: 58-59). The consequences of the so-called “controlled corruption” have thus far remained debated and demand further research.
The project Dr. Zabyelina is going to pursue as an Aleksanteri Visiting Fellow investigates the hypotheses about the costs and benefits of corruption in Putin’s Russia. In particular, her emphasis is placed on studying the political will to fight corruption and corruption‘s functional necessity/benefits. Has the Putin administration been willing to implement anticorruption projects? Or has been rather that the Russian government, being unable to reorganize itself, adopted a blind eye approach to informal exchanges of power and benefits (tangible and intangible) where they saw there was a functional necessity to do so in order to achieve particular goals?
In answering these questions two cases are going to be studied. The first is the case of the construction of Olympic sites in Sochi. The second is the reconstruction of the Chechen Republic. Both cases are likely to support the argument that the Putin administration has adopted a cost-and-benefit approach towards corruption, thereby engaging in anti-corruption initiatives selectively and unwillingly. Altogether, the research project covers some of the most problematic areas of Russia’s modernisation and promises to provide a counter-intuitive but, nevertheless important insight into the study of corruption.
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Anna-Liisa Heusala and Hanna Smith