Visiting Fellows 2011-2012

Visiting Fellows 2011-2012

Visiting Fellows 2011-2012

Alexandra Arkhipova

Russian State University for the Humanities

“Official and Popular Soviet Mythology: Facts, Folklore and Falsifications”

Fellowship period: January 1–February 28, 2012


Dr Alexandra Arkhipova is an associate professor at the Centre for Typological and Semiotic Folklore Studies, Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow. She is the author of  the book Jokes about Stalin: Texts, Comments, Analysis (in Russian) and more than 60 papers on folklore studies and anthropology; the origin of new Russian folklore in the Soviet era; anti-Stalin folklore; and the folklore and ethnography of Siberia, Northern and Central Asia.


The project "Official and Popular Soviet Mythology:  Facts, Folklore and Falsifications" is dedicated to studying the phenomenon of Soviet popular mythology in the discursive context of official Soviet mythology.

The main hypothesis of the given project is that during the Soviet era popular beliefs and customs were organized in a semiotic system of myths, taboos and practices that, on the one hand, was based on the traditional, pre-modern Russian worldview and, on the other hand developed in close connection with the official state ideology, even when opposed to it. I expect to find structural similarities between both official and popular Soviet mythology, whether there was any structural isomorphism between them and, hopefully, will be able to explain, whether, how and why both interacted. In this context, I hope to specify the concrete relationship between facts, falsifications and mythology in the genesis of historic mythology. The project calls for an interdisciplinary approach, including both historical and socio-anthropological methods, special skills for historical archive research and ethnological field work.

The main analytical goals of the project consist in interpreting popular Soviet mythology as a. a semioticsystem, analyzing the elements of both verbal and actional codes of culture, using folklore texts, speech genres and customs and; b. a semiotic system,that is analyzing the connections between its seemingly heterogeneous elements, describing a coherent system of meanings which can be related - opposed, correlated - to the system of official Soviet mythology.

The empirical work (in archives) is an essential part of the planned project. It will be necessary to not only find and describe, but also to assess critically the authenticity and reliability of the gathered material.

The practical results of the project will consist of, 1) work with rare émigré documents and newspapers 2) papers for peer-reviewed journals, presenting different types of Soviet popular myths and the system of taboos. The final result will lead to the preparation of a monograph on "Soviet uncensored mythology".


Email: alexandra.arkhipova [at]

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sanna Turoma and Katja Koikkalainen

Zuzanna Bogumił

Academy of Special Education in Warsaw, Poland

“Novomuchenichestvo – the Orthodox Interpretation of the Experience of the Soviet Repressions”

Fellowship period: September 1 – October 31, 2011


Dr Zuzanna Bogumił is a sociologist and cultural anthropologist at the Academy of Special Education in Warsaw. Her research to date has dealt with religious conflicts in Ukraine, memory problems (mostly in Russia), as well as with the significance of historical exhibitions in Central Europe. From 2006 to 2008, she carried out a project entitled Remembering Gulag – analysis of sites of memory located in the former soviet camps in the Russian Federation, which was sponsored by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. In 2007–2008, Bogumił coordinated an international project, The image of the Second World War in St Petersburg, Warsaw and Dresden, which was sponsored by the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation and the Robert Bosch Foundation. In 2011, Bogumił received a new grant for research in Russia entitled Novomuchenichestvo – the orthodox interpretation of the Soviet repressions. She has published in Neprikosnovennyj Zapas, Katedra Gender Studies, and Kultura i Społeczeństwo.

Abstract of current research:

In 2011, I started a new project: Novomuchenichestvo – the Orthodox interpretation of the experience of the Soviet repressions. This project assumes the description of the genealogy of the Orthodox discourse of new martyrdom and the characteristics of its significant elements. In particular, the project aims to define the mechanisms that can change the perception of the past; for example, transformation of “enemies of the people” – such as the patriarch Tichon, Tsar Nicholas II or General Anton Denikin – into contemporary martyrs and heroes. The project also intends to analyse the cultural and social meanings imparted on the current “memorial sites” of the new martyrdom, such as holidays, significant biographies of new saints and, above all, the sites of the cults of the new martyrs. These places are of particular interest because by turning the new martyrdom into an important component of its contemporary identity, the Orthodox church wishes to have a monopoly on imparting meaning to burial sites (for example, the village of Butovo or the city of Yekateringburg), which may became a potential source of national conflicts (for example, Katyn, Solovetsky Islands). Since the new martyrdom in Russia has a broad reach and impact that is unprecedented in other Eastern European countries, such an analysis provides a clearer picture of the problem of imparting religious dimension to the 20th-century experience of communism. Therefore, the project constitutes an important contribution to studies on the role of history and the function of memory in post-socialist countries.

Email: mitregaz [at]

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Elina Kahla and Kaarina Aitamurto

Craig Brandist

University of Sheffield

“The Development of Sociological Theories of Language in the USSR 1917-38”

Fellowship period: mid-February – mid-April 2012


Craig Brandist was born in Coventry, UK, in 1963. He completed a PhD on the sources of the ideas of the Bakhtin Circle at the University of Sussex in 1995, after which he was Max Hayward Fellow in Russian Literature at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. In 1997 he became Research fellow at the University of Sheffield where, in 2007 he became Professor of Cultural Theory and Intellectual History and, from 2008, Director of the Bakhtin Centre. Professor Brandist has published widely on Russian literature, intellectual history and critical thought, with his books including Carnival Culture and the Soviet Modernist Novel (1996), The Bakhtin Circle: Philosophy, Culture and Politics (2002), (ed. with David Shepherd and Galin Tihanov) The Bakhtin Circle: In the Master’s Absence (2004)   and (ed. with Katya Chown) Politics and the Theory of Language in the USSR 1917-1938 (2010). He is currently working on a monograph about the entwinement of questions of hegemony and of language in the early years of the USSR based on extensive research in archives and libraries in Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

Professor Brandist is also Vice-President of the lecturer’s union (UCU) at the University of Sheffield, and a photographer.

Abstract of current research:

For the last few years I have been working on a project on the development of sociological theories of language in the USSR 1917-38, which was initially funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council.  This focuses on the way in which the revolutionary regime recognized the importance of questions of the relationship between language and social structure, promoting and funding path-breaking research, the like of which would not be seen in the west for several decades. In seeking to codify standard forms of the languages of the former colonies of the Russian Empire, which often had no settled written forms or alphabets, Soviet linguists had to address the sociological dimensions of language with a thoroughness and on a scale that had never been attempted before. This gave rise to a range of new paradigms that were progressively vulgarized and ultimately abandoned as the revolution underwent bureaucratic degeneration. This culminated in Stalin’s denunciation of the work of N.Ia. Marr in 1950, after which Soviet linguistics became narrowly normative and most of the innovative research was ignored for several decades. I have spent several years working on the intellectual and institutional histories of these phenomena.

At the Aleksanteeri Institute I will work on a monograph dedicated to the relationship between questions of language and of hegemony in the early years of the USSR. Drawing on previously collated archival material and published material either sides of the Revolution, I will explore how language and hegemony were entwined in much early Soviet thought and that in the shifting conceptions of language in the period under investigation, one can also trace the way in which official conceptions of hegemony and the dynamics of rule underwent fundamental changes.

Email: c.s.brandist [at]

Personal website:

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sanna Turoma and Jukka Pietiläinen

Linda J. Cook

Brown University

“Distributive Politics in an Electoral-Authoritarian Regime:  Health Care in the Russian Federation”

Fellowship period: 1-31 August 2011 and tbc: May 2012


Linda J. Cook is Professor and Acting Chair in the Political Science Department at Brown University.  She is an associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and a faculty associate of the Watson Center for International Studies at Brown, where she directed the International Relations Program from 2000-2002.  Cook holds a BA in political science from Boston University (1975), an MA (1979) and Ph.D. (1985) from Columbia University.  She serves on the Editorial Collective of Studies in Comparative International Development and as an advisory editor of Oxford Bibliographies On-Line.  She is author of The Soviet Social Contract and Why it Failed:  Welfare Policy and Workers’ Politics from Brezhnev to Yeltsin (Harvard 1993), Postcommunist Welfare States:  Reform Politics in Russia and Eastern Europe (Cornell 2007), co-editor of Left Parties and Social Policy in Postcommunist Europe (Westview 1999), has articles in Comparative Politics, Post-Soviet Affairs, Europe-Asia Studies, and other publications on Russian politics, welfare states, labor and representation.  Cook has received research grants from NCEEER, the Kennan Institute, IREX and the Davis Center.  In 2011-12 she will be a Visiting Fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute for Russian and Eastern European Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland.  Her current research centers on distributive politics in electoral-authoritarian regimes, particularly the politics of health care distribution and access in East European postcommunist states. 

Abstract of current research

My current research focuses on distributive politics in electoral-authoritarian regimes, which have proliferated in recent decades. Though these regimes are in important respects authoritarian, they hold open limited arenas for protest and opposition, and can be threatened by mass disaffection or elites’ defection. Moreover states have ceded monopolistic control over welfare provision, allowing NGOs, charitable organizations, and private actors to provide social services. Scholars have begun to examine sources of stability and instability in electoral-authoritarian regimes; my project looks at the implications for distributive politics and social welfare.

My research at the Aleksanteri Institute focuses on the Russian Federation as an electoral-authoritarian regime, and the specific case of health care distribution.  I will look at patterns of provision and access to health care at four sites in Russia:  St. Petersburg, an immigrant enclave in Moscow, the provincial city of Lipetsk, and the rural Sortavala region.  The project will map the distribution of health care facilities at each site, including state, NGO, charitable, and private facilities; study health care access and expenditure as social and political issues in local politics and national elections, through press and expert interviews; and lay the groundwork to design and test a sample population-level survey on expectations, methods, problems, and reliance on political mediation to access health care. During the Visiting Fellowship my work will concentrate mainly on the St. Petersburg and Sortavala cases, taking advantage of the Aleksanteri Institutes’ library and internet resources, as well as its researchers’ considerable  field experience in these regions.  The research should reveal whether Russia’s government is responding to or ignoring vital needs of various populations, and to what extent it is ceding key governmental functions to informal and non-state organizations. 

Email: Linda_Cook [at]

Personal website:…

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Aino Saarinen and Meri Kulmala

Terry Cox

University of Glasgow

“Arrested Transformation: the politics of post-communist Hungary”

Fellowship period: April 1 – May 31, 2012


Terry Cox is Professor of Central and East European Studies at the University of Glasgow and Editor of Europe-Asia Studies. He is Past-President of the British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) and is currently a member of the Area Studies sub-panel of the UK funding councils’ Research Excellence Framework (REF). His current research interests are in the political sociology of post-communist transformations, with a special focus on civil society, interest group politics, governance and welfare regimes.

Recent Publications include:

Terry Cox and Sandor Gallai, (2009) Policy Actors and Policy Making in Contemporary Hungary. In: Staronova, K and Vass, L (eds.) Public Policy and Administration: Challenges and Synergies. NISPAcee, Bratislava.

Terry Cox (ed.) (2008) Challenging Communism in Eastern Europe: 1956 and its Legacy, London, Routledge.

Martin Myant and Terry Cox (eds.) (2008) Reinventing Poland: Economic and Political Transformation and Changing National Identity, London, Routledge.

Terry Cox, (2007) ‘Democratisation and Social Policy in East Central Europe’, in Y. Bangura (ed.), Democratisation and Social Policy, Geneva/London, UNRISD/Palgrave.

Terry Cox, (2007) ‘Democratization and State–Society Relations in East Central Europe: The Case of Hungary’, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics’, vol.23, no.2.

Terry Cox, Gabriella Ilonszki and Laszlo Vass, (2007) ‘State and Organised Interests in Post-Communist Hungarian Politics’, Perspectives on European Politics and Societies, vol.8, no.2.

Abstract of current research:

During the period of his Aleksanteri Visiting Fellowship he will be working on a project entitled ‘Arrested Transformation: the politics of post-communist Hungary’. This project aims at an analysis of the trajectory of Hungarian politics and society during the period of post-communist transformation. From a starting point as one of the leading countries achieving a successful transition from communist rule, Hungary since then has experienced growing social and political polarisation, problems of ineffective governance, failed or limited attempts at social reform and widespread popular distrust of its political class. The research seeks to explain the problematic characteristics of the Hungarian polity as the outcome of a process of impeded or arrested transformation, resulting from the stagnation of transitional arrangements that became embedded in Hungarian society in the 1990s and the difficulty of developing beyond the typical arrangements of transitional institutions and processes. The research is based on interviews with a wide range of state and social policy actors in Hungary.

Email: Terry.Cox [at]

Personal website:

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Katalin Miklóssy and Anna-Liisa Heusala

András Déak

Central European University

“Russia and the Global Gas and Oil Price Setting”

Fellowship period: January 15 – March 15, 2012


András Deák is a research director at the Center for EU Enlargement  Studies at Central European University. He received his Diploma (MA, 1997) and his Doctorate (PhD, 2003) in international relations, both from the University of Economic Sciences in Hungary. From 1998 onwards, he was a researcher in charge of post-Soviet affairs at the Teleki Laszló Institiute in Budapest. Between 2007 and 2009, he worked as executive director at the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs. Deák has held several seminars on contemporary Russian politics and international energy policy at the Budapest Corvinus University. Deák has published widely on Russian and post-Soviet energy policy, and the energy industry over the past 10 years.

Abstract of current research: Energy and State in Russia - the Institutionalization of the Hydrocarbon Sector in the Russian Political System

Over the last 50 years, exports of hydrocarbons have moved from a marginal source of Soviet hard currency revenue to the single most important source of Russian welfare and stability. Much of this change has occurred within the last 20 years, in parallel with a major transformation of Russian political order and institutions. The aim of my current research is to explore the interrelation of these two processes. The research has four major dimensions: (1) the macro-economic and social aspects of the increased reliance on energy exports, (2) sectoral governance, ownership, control and the unfolding institutional background, (3) the role of energy in domestic politics, rentier politics in Russia, and (4) the international and foreign policy implications of the increased role in global energy.

During my two-month fellowship, I plan to focus on the particular issue of Russia’s potential to influence global price dynamics. From a purely statistical perspective, Russia could play a major role in global price setting, particularly in the oil market. Nevertheless, an internalization of external price dynamics assumes a major reshaping of Russia’s energy policy in most of the above-mentioned dimensions. The aim of my paper is to conceptualize and examine these problems. In so doing, I would like to answer two questions: (1) why has Russia not attempted to play a more active role in global price setting? and (2) what is its potential and what are the domestic policy costs and benefits of a new price shaping strategy?

Email: deaka [at]

Personal website:

Academic host at the Aleksanteri Institute: Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen

Ilya Gerasimov

Ab Imperio Quarterly, Russia

“Ethnic Crime, Imperial City: Practices of Self-Organization and Paradoxes of Illegality in Late Imperial Russia, 1905–16”

Fellowship period: August 1-31, 2011


Ilya Gerasimov holds Russian (1998) and American (2000) PhDs, and is a founder and the Executive Editor of the international quarterly Ab Imperio ( dedicated to the studies of new imperial history and nationalism in the post-Soviet space (since 2000). He has published in several languages on Russian social history, the history of criminality and new imperial history. His recent publications include Modernism and Public Reform in Late Imperial Russia: Rural Professionals and Self-Organization, 1905-30 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and (co-edited) Empire Speaks Out: Languages of Rationalization and Self-Description in the Russian Empire (Brill, 2009).

His new book project is tentatively titled Ethnic Crime, Imperial City: Practices of Self-Organization and Paradoxes of Illegality in Late Imperial Russia, 1905–16. The book will tell the story of the “silent majority” of urban inhabitants in four imperial cities: Vilna (Vilnius), Odessa, Kazan, and Nizhny Novgorod, focusing on the social practices as the universal language binding the urban plebeian society together, substituting for the virtually absent sphere of discourses.

Abstract of current research:

During my stay in Helsinki in August, 2011 I intend to concentrate on writing  the manuscript of my book, entitled Ethnic Crime, Imperial City: Practices of Self-Organization and Paradoxes of Illegality in Late Imperial Russia, 1905–1916.

Covering the inter-revolutionary decade of 1905–1916, the book tells the story of the “silent majority” of urban inhabitants in four imperial cities: Vilna (Vilnius), Odessa, Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod. Representatives of unprivileged social groups comprised around 90 percent of city populations, yet produced hardly one percent of the surviving written sources. In fact, these people existed in a non-discursive environment: they did not usually read newspapers, rarely authored written documents and were only exposed to public discourses to a minimal degree. Often, those people did not even speak a common language, representing different ethnoconfessional groups. In the course of just over a decade, Russian imperial towns had to accommodate, socialise and acculturate an enormous body of people: every third person was a recent migrant to the city and every second person had moved there within the past few years. A study of these extremely diverse and dynamic social group requires moving “beyond textuality” to locate truly mass and representative sources and to find a conceptual framework capable of accommodating the diversity of the old imperial society within a single historical narrative, however complex. The book can be characterised as an exercise in “new imperial” social history, a study of the society fundamentally defined by diversity and ambivalence of empire as a context-setting category.

The underlying hypothesis and methodological approach of the book suggest that social practices were the universal language that bound the urban plebeian society together, substituting for the virtually unavailable discourses. Recent migrants were not briefed about the rules of behaviour in their new town; they picked up this non-verbalised wisdom by rubbing shoulders with more experienced peers, by getting punched for every mistake, and by negotiating a new arrangement through close physical contact, including violence. The non-verbal and very “bodily” foundation of social practices eventually created a developed meta-language of self-expression and self-representation of individuals and social groups (“the second modelling system”); we just need to learn how to read this language. Those practices formed a social space (if not a social order) of their own. The book singles out three main clusters of social practices, identified as “the middle ground” (or “creative misunderstanding”), “patriarchality” and “violence”. In my attempt to understand the motivation and rationality of the people who left a trace in written records mainly by their seemingly unjustified outbursts of rage, petty theft or ethnic slurs, I use the situation of conflict and, more specifically, of criminality as a window to the much broader social sphere of regular social interactions and encounters.

Email: office [at]

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sanna Turoma and Jussi Lassila

Andrew Graan

Wake Forest University, United States

“Watching the World Watch: Political Communication and the Everyday Politics of International Oversight in Post-Conflict Macedonia”

Fellowship period: December 15, 2011 – January 15, 2012 and May 1 – June 30, 2012


Andrew Graan received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2010.  He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Wake Forest University.  His current book project, Watching the World Watch: Political Communication and the Everyday Politics of International Oversight in Post-Conflict Macedonia, examines international intervention and European integration in post-conflict Macedonia. By attending to the differences between foreign officials’ and Macedonians’ approaches to mass public communication following 2001, his work shows how the gap between foreigner and Macedonian “regimes of publicity” animated Macedonian public speech and performance, as political actors negotiated these two sources of political authority in pursuit of both international recognition and domestic authority.  Ethnographically, the project examines this dynamic by exploring the key social arenas in which the active presence of foreign officials affected Macedonian political life: the Macedonian news media public sphere, political performance, popular protest movements, and everyday talk and self-presentation. His article On the Politics of Imidž: European Integration and the Trials of Recognition in Post-Conflict Macedonia appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of Slavic Review.

Abstract of current research:

Titled Watching the World Watch: Political Communication and the Everyday Politics of International Oversight in Post-Conflict Macedonia, this book project is an ethnography of international intervention and its effects on social and political life in Macedonia. Following the country’s 2001 conflict, diplomats and officials from the European Union and United States saturated the Macedonian public sphere with value-laden evaluations of the country’s political maturity and prescriptive expectations for its future. I show how the public speech of foreign officials in Macedonia depended on and enacted a different set of communicative norms, language ideologies, and metadiscursive regimentations when compared to the standards that mediated and shaped participation in Macedonia’s national public. I then demonstrate how the gap between these foreigner and Macedonian “regimes of publicity” animated new political and social engagements in Macedonia as political actors and ordinary citizens would refigure the discursive forms locally associated with “Europe” in pursuit of recognition and authority before contrasting international and domestic audiences. The dissertation details this recognition politics through ethnographic descriptions of: news media production, a grassroots protest movement, politicians’ performances, and everyday genres of sociality and self-presentation.

Ultimately, the project contends that international actors’ achievement of an “oversight public” in Macedonia, and Macedonian practices that presupposed international oversight, constituted a central dimension to the remaking of Macedonia’s post-conflict and post-socialist social order.  My attention to foreigner and Macedonian modes of publicity, and the tensions between them, provides a novel analytic and theoretical window on political communication and its relation to political structure, governmentality and political subjectivity. The project adds a critical, ethnographic perspective to the study of global governance and European integration by a focus on communicative aspects of the cultural politics intrinsic to any transnational political exercise.

While at the Aleksanteri Institute, I plan to complete the book manuscript's introduction as well as a comparative chapter on “regimes of publicity.” In addition, I will begin writing a related comparative, historical article on diplomatic language and the art of “talking for a state.”

Email:  andygraan [at]

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Freek van der Vet and Anna Korhonen

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

Andrey Maidansky

Taganrog Institute of Economics and Management, Russia

“The Philosophical Origins of L.S. Vygotsky’s Theory of Mind”

Fellowship period: May 1-31, 2012


Andrey Maidansky is professor of philosophy at Taganrog Institute of Economics and Management. He studied at Rostov and Moscow State Universities and received a PhD at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2000. He is a member of the editorial board of Σν Αρχη journal and a guest editor of the special issues of the Logos journal, which are devoted to Spinoza, Marx and Ilyenkov. Maidansky edited a volume on Spinoza’s logic, including the Russian translation of Spinoza’s treatise De intellectus emendatione (Rostov-on-Don: Phoenix, 2007), and also edited the anthology entitled “Spinoza: pro et contra” (St Petersburg: RHGA, 2012, in print).

At the Aleksanteri Institute, Maidansky intends to elucidate the origins and methodology of L.S. Vygotsky’s theory of mind. He argues that Spinoza’s ideas, especially his theory of reason and affect, and their relationship within human activity, provided the guidelines for the research program of Vygotsky, the founder of the cultural-historical school of modern psychology.

Abstract of current research:

The philosophical rhizome of Lev Vygotsky’s theory largely remains in the shade, notwithstanding that Vygotsky himself underlined his devotion to Spinoza in every way possible and consistently applied Spinoza’s method of researching the human mind and behaviour. Vygotsky compared this method with a diamond, “cutting like glass all the main problems of psychology”. Shortly before his death, Vygotsky called for psychological science to “revive Spinozism”. But neither his nearest pupils nor the modern adherents of cultural-historical theory could carry out this wish. None of them expressly explored Spinoza’s doctrine of mind and used his method, to which, as Vygotsky confessed, he was due by his most important discoveries.

I have attempted to fill up this lacuna through the series of articles in the philosophical journals Logos and Voprosy filosofii (reprinted in German and English translations). During my forthcoming visit to Aleksanteri Institute, I plan to write the next article, mainly based on Vygotsky’s foreword to the Russian translation of Intelligenzenprüfungen an Anthropoiden by Wolfgang Köhler. My investigation focuses on the collision of reason and imagination, the correlation of ideas to affects within human activity in comparison to the intellectual behaviour of animals. Following Vygotsky, I consider these matters through the prism of Spinoza’s theory of cognition.

Outlined generally, the core problem is how reason and affect could unite together to form a single coherent whole in the process of human activity, whereas in the animal world, as well as in early childhood they remained totally hostile to each other. I argue that the unity of intellectual and affective activities becomes possible due to the mediation of special tools, cultural artefacts, by means of which human beings communicate and regulate their own behaviour.

Email: amaid [at]

Personal website:

Academic host at the Aleksanteri Institute: Vesa Oittinen

Dominique Moran

University of Birmingham

“Welfare, Gender and Agency: Women’s Imprisonment in Russia”

Fellowship period: August 1 – September 30, 2011


Dominique Moran is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, UK, where she is also a member of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies (CREES). She gained her PhD in Human Geography from Oxford University in 2001, and her research since then has pioneered geographical enquiry into poverty, marginalisation, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the post-socialist region. Her current work in carceral geography draws upon a recently completed ESRC-funded collaborative international interdisciplinary project blending human geography and criminology/prison sociology in the study of the Russian penal system to investigate geographies of imprisonment for women.

Her recent publications include: Moran, D. J Pallot & L Piacentini (2011) ‘The Geography of Crime and Punishment in the Russian Federation’ Eurasian Geography and Economics 52 1 79-104, and Moran, D., Pallot, J. & Piacentini, L. (2009) Lipstick, Lace & Longing: Constructions of Femininity inside a Russian Prison, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 27(4) 700-720

Abstract of current research:

This research project will examine welfare, gender and agency within Russian women’s prisons. It will extend and develop an existing programme of work (funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, conducted with Professor Judith Pallot at Oxford University and Dr Laura Piacentini at Strathclyde University in the UK) exploring women’s experience of imprisonment in contemporary Russia. Whereas the existing research project focused on the geography of imprisonment (the impact of distance between home and the place of incarceration on women’s experience of imprisonment and their reintegration into society after release), the research for this Fellowship will centre more closely around the experiences of women inside places of incarceration, and relate this to wider developing debates within human geography and gender studies. Specifically, it will engage with women’s use of penal space inside prison; challenging the assumed binary between ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces in prison, and the associated corporeal experiences of imprisonment in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, adolescence and ageing, to explore the ways in which women in Russian prisons internalise or contest the penal regime in their everyday existences.

The project will draw upon extensive qualitative research materials generated through the ESRC project, and will comprise of an intensive period of engagement with data analysis and writing. The data comprise interviews with over two hundred female prisoners, interviewed both during incarceration and after release, as well as interviews with prison officers and local inhabitants of several Russian penal regions. The research will generate research contributions with a strongly theoretical focus, in the development of ‘carceral geography’. The strong regional focus of this work in Russia speaks not only to Area Studies literatures, but also to a broader, cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary audience in geography, gender studies and prison sociology.

Email: d.moran [at]

Personal website:

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Anna-Liisa Heusala and Aino Saarinen

Elena A. Osokina

University of South Carolina

“Rembrandts for Tractors: Soviet Art Export under Stalin”

Fellowship period: May 1 – June 30, 2012


Born and raised in the Soviet Union, Elena Osokina received her Ph.D. from the Department of History at Moscow University just a few years before the collapse of the USSR. Gorbachev’s perestroika drastically changed the course of her professional and personal life. With the opening of the Soviet archives, Elena left behind the studies of Imperial Russia, which was the subject of her first dissertation (defended in Moscow in 1987), and began an exciting scholarly journey into the social and economic history of the Stalinist era. Her research of the Soviet trade and the black market under Stalin resulted in the successful defence of a second dissertation (Moscow, 1998), and the production of several books and numerous articles published in Russia, USA, Canada, Germany, France, and Italy (for titles see her CV). Elena Osokina is a recipient of the fellowships from the Kennan Institute-Woodrow Wilson Center (Washington, D.C.), the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA), Fulbright (USA), the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), the Hoover Institution (Stanford, CA), la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (Paris, France), the Davis Center for Russian Studies (Harvard University), and the Aleksanteri Institute (Helsinki, Finland). She has taught internationally at the Donaueschingen Academy, Germany (on the invitation of the Council of Europe), the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Oberlin College, and Missouri State University.  Elena is currently a professor of Russian history at the University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC).

Abstract of current research

Elena Osokina is currently engaged in a large project that explores the extraordinary financial sources of Soviet industrialisation and their economic, social, and cultural effects. The project has been designed in two parts.

The first part, now complete (Elena Osokina, Gold for Industrialization: Torgsin, Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2009), explored state stores called Torgsin, which sold food and goods to the Soviet people during the lean years of the first five-year plans (1931-1936) in exchange for gold and other valuables. Torgsin became an economically successful means for Stalin to raise an extraordinary amount of revenue. It not only exceeded activity of the political police that confiscated people’s valuables by force, but also outperformed the results of the major Soviet exports of oil, lumber, and grain.

The current stage of the project explores the effects of the mass Soviet art exports under Stalin to finance Soviet industrialisation. The masterpieces sold by the Soviets became important holdings in renowned art collections around the world. Much of the international research to date has been slanted toward sales from the Hermitage. As a result, we now know who bought the masterpieces and for how much, and where they are presently located. However, almost nothing is known about the “kitchen” of the Soviet art sales, about what was going on backstage. Who were the officials involved in the art exports? What were the methods of recruiting clients? How were the negotiations carried out? What was going on within the state trade office of “Antikvariat” that was in charge of the art exports? Why did the resistance of the intelligentsia to the sales fail?  

These and other issues comprise a major focus of the current research. Elena Osokina’s two month fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute will be dedicated to writing an article on the Hermitage museum community and the museum’s internal atmosphere during the “sale of the century”, as well as an article on the post-Soviet life of the masterpieces, that explores the changes (restoration, attribution, research, etc.) that occurred to them in the West after they were sold by the Soviet Union.

E-mail: osokina [at]

Personal website:

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sari Autio-Sarasmo and Riikka Nisonen

Sean Roberts

Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

“Political modernisation, ‘virtual parties’ and the 2011 State Duma election in Russia”

Fellowship period: mid-October – mid-December 2011


Sean Roberts received his PhD from the Centre for Russian & East European Studies (CREES), University of Birmingham in 2010. His thesis explored a number of party political developments in Russia under the two presidential terms of Vladimir Putin, in particular the role of United Russia as the nominal ruling party. In the 2010/11 academic year he completed a Norwegian Research Council funded Yggdrasil Scholarship at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), working on a number of projects including the book Putin’s United Russia Party due to be published in November 2011 (Routledge). This book examines an entire decade of post-Yeltsin politics to understand United Russia’s distinct brand of party dominance as well as the larger development of dominant-power politics in Russia, 2000-10. His research interests include comparative party politics, regime studies, Russian politics, including the recent ‘modernization’ initiative, but also the growing importance of the political internet in Russian and the post-Soviet space in general. The theme of the political internet and its role in the Russian State Duma election of December 2011 forms the focus of his research stay at the Aleksanteri Institute.

Abstract of current research:

One of the key developments of the Medvedev presidency (2008-11) has been the possibility of substantial political change within the broad rubric of ‘modernisation’. Although there is a great deal of room for scepticism as to either the intention or ability of Russia’s ruling elite to liberalise the political system, there is enough circumstantial evidence to warrant scholarly interest. This research investigates one aspect of political change that fits perfectly with what First Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff, Vladislav Surkov, described as the ‘futurist’ aspect of modernisation – party political competition on the Internet during the December 2011 State Duma election campaign. This research will examine two primary questions during the two-month visit at the Aleksanteri Institute. The first relates to the immediate December election and the way the Internet is used by the competing parties during the campaign period. The aim here is to develop existing empirical, theoretical but also methodological insights on party politics and the political Internet in Russia and in comparative perspective. The second, larger focus is on the aforementioned modernisation debate. This concerns the ‘promise’ of modernisation and what web-based party competition during the 2011 State Duma election campaign tells us of the potential and problems of political reform in Russia in general.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Jukka Pietiläinen and Markku Kangaspuro

Natali Stegmann

University of Regensburg

“Concepts in Transition: Meanings and Spaces of Late Socialism (Poland and Czechoslovakia, 1967-1981)”

Fellowship period: May 1 – June 30, 2012


PD Dr Natali Stegmann studied East European history at the University of Frankfurt/Main and in Poznań. From 2002 to 2008, she was an assistant professor at Tübingen University’s Institut für Osteuropäische Geschichte und Landeskunde. Since 2009, she has been engaged as a coordinator for interdisciplinary research at the University of Regensburg, where she also teaches East Central European history. Stegman’s fields of study include European history, especially Polish and Czech/Czechoslovak history in the 19th and 20th centuries; gender history; citizenship; national institutions; symbols and representations; and speech and public life in late socialism.

Her main publications are: Die Töchter der geschlagenen Helden. “Frauenfrage”, Feminismus und Frauenbewegung in Polen, 1863–1919 (Harrassowitz: Wiesbaden, 2000); Kriegsdeutungen – Staatsgründungen – Sozialpolitik. Der Helden – und Opferdiskurs in der Tschechoslowakei, 1918–1948 (München: Oldenbourg 2010); with Katrin Boeckh (eds): Veterans and War Victims in Eastern Europe during the 20th Century: A Comparison (=Comperativ 20, 2010, 5).

Abstract of current research:

If, like Antonio Gramsci, we assume that all revolutions are rooted in a critical work of intellectual penetration and herewith in the transmission of ideas to specific groups, then this would apply not only to the French and Russian Revolutions, but also to the revolutionary processes of the 1980s in the East European countries. Departing from this premise, this project suggests that the 1970s and 1980s produced specific perceptions of the meaning(s) of crucial terms. It deals with late socialist ideas of a good life and a proper societal order, focusing on Poland and Czechoslovakia from the Prague Spring of 1968 to the temporary end of the solidarity movement after the proclamation of martial law in 1981. An analysis of statements from that period indicates that socialism was still treated as a political fact, as a model and as an everyday reality. Against this backdrop, the project analyses the changing meanings of crucial terms in connection with the shifting conceptions of private and public spaces. There was a palpable link between the definitions of terms, the spaces where they were defined and the places where the protagonists articulated them. Samizdat is a speaking example for this; another example would be the party congresses. Apart from these two opposing realms, the spaces in between are of analytical importance. The project is divided into a two-step analysis. Firstly, I will investigate open letters and other appeals to the wider public, as well as documents that can be read as official answers to these letters, concentrating on the substance and circumstances of communication processes in late socialism. The second part of the analysis will pertain to places of action and of interpretation. It will focus on conceptions of state and society, and also on the ideals of family and workplace. I will work on the first part during my stay in Helsinki.

Email: Natali.Stegmann [at]

Personal website:…

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Katalin Miklóssy and Riikka Nisonen