Visiting Fellows 2012-2013

Visiting Fellows 2012-2013
Thomas Bremer

University of Münster, Germany

“Church and State in the Russian Tradition”
Fellowship period: February 1–March 31, 2013

Dr Thomas Bremer is a Catholic theologian and specialist in Eastern Churches. After his studies of Catholic theology and Slavonic languages in Munich, Belgrade and Münster, he gained in 1990 his PhD with a dissertation on the ecclesiology in the Serbian Orthodox Church. In the 1990s, he was research assistant at Münster University and later executive director of German Association for East European Studies in Berlin. In this time, he was intensively engaged in interchurch and interreligious contacts in former Yugoslavia, led respective projects, and he also did research on questions of churches and religious communities in situation of conflict. In April 1999 he became professor of Ecumenics (Eastern Churches) and Peace Studies at the Faculty of Catholic Theology in Münster; between 2003 and 2005 he served as dean of the Faculty. His research interests are Orthodoxy in Russia, Ukraine and in Serbia, ecumenical relations between Eastern and Western Churches, Orthodoxy and modernity. He has published several books and many articles. In 2011/2012, he was Research Fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena University.

Abstract of current research:
The project I work on intends to research the relationship between state and Church in Russia. As there is not so much theoretical reflection on this issue by the Church itself, the research concentrates on the analysis of statements and acts of Church representatives. This will be done in an historical perspective, although with an accent on modern history. The research will focus on theological foundations within Orthodoxy; there is a theological tradition within the Russian Church which comes from the Byzantine heritage. Here we find the notion of symphonia as description of an ideal vision of this relationship. Russian Orthodoxy has received this tradition; however, it changed radically with the Petrine reforms, and again with the revolution in 1917 when the Orthodox Church was – for the first time in its history – confronted with a hostile state. After the end of communism, both sides – state and Church – were trying to develop new ways of their relationship, both by practicing and by theoretical reflection. In this regard, a document on social doctrine is of importance which the Church adopted in 2000. One needs to take into account these developments and this background in order to get a better insight into the complexity of the relations between state and Church in today’s Russia. The objective of my project is to develop a theory which will enable us to better understand this relationship by regarding its theological roots, and which will avoid judgment exclusively from a Western perspective.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Kaarina Aitamurto

Barbara J. Falk

Canadian Forces College / Royal Military College of Canada / University of Toronto, Canada

“Cold War justice: Comparing political trials across the East-West divide”
Fellowship period: May 1–June 30, 2013

Dr. Barbara J. Falk holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Victoria, an MA and PhD from York University, and an MSL (Master of Studies in Law) from the University of Toronto.  Dr. Falk joined the academic staff of the Department of Defence Studies at Canadian Forces College (CFC) and the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) as Associate Professor in September 2006, after teaching for over 10 years in a number of post-secondary contexts, most recently at the Munk School for Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, where she is also a Fellow of the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies. In 2003, she published the first thorough and comparative account of dissident theory and activism under communism, entitled The Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe: Citizen Intellectuals and Philosopher-Kings.  She has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes, and writes regularly for Canada’s on-line news and opinion daily, The Mark. She is currently completing a book on the trial of the 1949 Communist Party leadership of the United States, provisionally titled Dennis et al: The Forgotten Political Trial that Made the Domestic Cold War Possible, as part of a larger research project which examines the politicization of justice and the prosecution of dissent at times of domestic and international conflict.

Abstract of current research:
During my tenure at the Aleksanteri Institute, I will be researching and writing two chapters of a book-length manuscript which will compare four landmark political trials—two on each side of the “Iron Curtain”.  Overall, my research seeks to examine Cold War political justice through a political, historical, legal, and cultural analysis during what I call the “early, hot” phase of the Cold War, 1949 through to 1953—from the Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb through to the conclusion of the Korean War. Trials selected for comparison are the Dennis and the Rosenberg-Sobell trials in the United States, the Slánský trial in Czechoslovakia, and the Rajk trial in Hungary.

New evidence publicly available in the post-Cold War era has provided researchers with a more complete picture of the trials studied here.  We now know exactly how and under what circumstances Soviet advisors extracted confessions in the Slánský and Rajk trials, why certain leading party officials were “selected” for interrogation and punishment, and if there was any truth to the often absurd allegations of CIA involvement and foreign interference. We also know, thanks to decrypted transcripts (the VENONA files) of Soviet cables to their American-based spy handlers, that Julius Rosenberg was guilty of industrial espionage.  Ethel Rosenberg, however, was sent to the electric chair largely on the basis of the perjured testimony of her brother-in-law David Greenglass, with the active collusion of the FBI.

My broader argument suggests that as the Cold War fades into history, the deep structural and cultural similarities that always existed between the United States and the Soviet Bloc are highlighted.  Moreover, political trials are an engaging and illuminating lens through which the actual and specific production of justice for public consumption are illustrated, regardless of the factual or legal guilt of the defendants involved.  Such trials are about more than justice and the delivery of a verdict; they are ritualistic exercises in popular education, regime legitimation, the elimination of real/perceived political adversaries, and ideological correctness.  In short, complex (in)security challenges are packaged via courtroom narratives into convenient “us vs. them” binary formats that both condense and simplify the larger superpower conflict by identifying and attacking the enemy within.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sari Autio-Sarasmo and Jouni Järvinen

Janet Elise Johnson

Brooklyn College, City University of New York, United States

“Crisis Centers, Gender, and Corruption in Russia”
Fellowship period: August 1-31, 2012

Janet Elise Johnson is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Visiting Scholar, Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, New York University.  From 2001-2003, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University in Ohio.  She holds a BA from Duke University and a PhD from Indiana University. Her research has been published in Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Signs: Journals of Women in Culture and Society, NWSA Journal, Politics & Policy, Social Politics, and PS, as well as in edited collections, such as Post-Soviet Women Encountering Transition, Ruling Russia, Russian Civil Society, Domestic Violence in Post-Communist States, and the Aleksanteri Institute’s Gazing at Welfare, Gender and Agency in Post-Socialist Countries. In 2007, she co-edited (with Jean C. Robinson) an anthology, Living Gender after Communism (Indiana University Press). Her most recent book, Gender Violence in Russia: The Politics of Feminist Intervention (Indiana University Press, 2009), analyzes the role of international intervention in the development of the women’s crisis center movement in Russia. 

Abstract of current research:
My current research includes continuing assessment of the women’s crisis centers in Russia and a feminist theory of corruption based on places such as Iceland and Russia. 

While in residence at the Aleksanteri Institute, I will be consulting with the Women, Gender, Agency in Russia in the 2000s (WGA) research team on the closing report which I will edit with Dr. Aino Saarinen and on the one chapter I will write reviewing the development of the crisis centers as an indicator of women’s mobilization.  For scholars interested in Russian gender politics, the emergence of the women’s crisis centers in the early 1990s was one of the most exciting post-Soviet phenomena. These centers, modeled on Western rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters, became the primary site for postcommunist feminist activism as well as a challenge to the shrinking of Russia’s welfare state.  However, as Putin has consolidated power, the movement has radically changed: shrinking, de-radicalizing, and moving into the state.  The objective of this research is to reassess the two decades since the first crisis centers were established in Moscow and St. Petersburg in order to understand why things have changed and to consider what studying the centers tells us about Russia’s commitments to social services and to democracy.  A related project is a draft chapter on gender in St. Petersburg, to be written with Dr. Saarinen, based on a focus group conducted among municipal women’s crisis centers in 2011.

While at the Aleksanteri, I will also be conducting research for my in-progress book on gender and corruption. While corruption is central to many theorists understanding of Russia, there has been very little feminist social science that considers corruption in Russia or elsewhere.  Playing with Richard Sakwa’s notion of the dual state, I suggest that many of the parallel institutions and elites as well as the justifying ideologies of Putin’s regime are gendered, even as more women have entered into formal power under Putin than under Yeltsin and even Gorbachev.  Putin, the siloviki, and the oligarchs are an overwhelmingly male-dominated cabal, who perform various masculinities that counter the imagined subordination of the homo Sovieticus.  Being at the Aleksanteri will help me examine these machinations in Russia.  The goal is to develop a feminist theory of corruption that will be useful in other contexts, reversing the typical direction of applying Western concepts and theories to Russia to suggest insights for the new feminist institutionalism and critical policy studies within comparative political science. 

Personal website:

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

Robert Kaiser

University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

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

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

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

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

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

Anne Le Huérou

School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) / University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France

“’Civic control’ on law enforcement agencies in Russia: Confronting violence and reshaping State / society relations”
Fellowship period tbc

Anne Le Huérou is a sociologist (PhD) at the CERCEC (Centre d’Etudes des mondes Russe, Caucasien et Est-européen, EHESS/CNRS) in Paris and from September 1, 2012 will start as an assistant professor of Russian studies at University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. To date, she has conducted research on various issues concerning contemporary Russian Politics and Society, including local and regional politics and administration, social mobilisations, Chechen war and its consequences in the Russian society, labour migrations, patriotism in everyday life. Her on-going research is a part of the collective project Understanding Violence in Russia. She is also the coordinator of Russian-French scientific exchange programme at Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris. She is member of the Board of the Electronic Journal PIPSS, Power Institutions in Post-Soviet societies, currently preparing an issue on police reform in Russia and the CIS.

Her recent publications include: “A ‘Chechen Syndrom’? Russian Veterans of the Chechen War and the Transposition of War Violence to Society”, in War Veterans in Postwar Situations: Chechnya, Serbia, Turkey, Peru, and Côte d’Ivoire, Palgrave/Macmillian: 2012, (with E. Sieca-Kozlowski). “Diaspora as a multi-tiered resource for migration policy and its confrontation to migrant strategies: the case of Omsk”, proceedings of the conference The Caucasus and Central Asia Twenty Years after Independences: Questionning the notion of ’South countries’, dec. 2011 , p. 207-215 ; "Un État en guerre", in Gilles Favarel-Garriges et Kathy Rousselet (Dir.), La Russie Contemporaine, Fayard, 2010 ; “Russia’s War in Chechnya: The Discourse of Counter-Terrorism and the Legitimation of Violence”, in Samy Cohen (dir.) Democracies at War against Terrorism¸ London, Palgrave MacMillian, 2008, p.211-232. [with Amandine Regamey].

Abstract of current research:
My current research project, conducted within the CERCEC based project "Understanding Violence in Russia: War, Institutions, Society" (City of Paris Emergence programme), deals with the question of police violence in contemporary Russia. Considering the way this question has become a growing stake both for State policies and for the society, my focus is examining the transformation of the law enforcement institutions through the establishment of a what both authorities and stakeholders from the non State sector call “civic control" (grazhdanskij or obshchestvennyj kontrol’). This notion can include such institutionalized mechanisms as Public monitoring commissions over detention facilities (in Russian ONK-obshchestvennye nabljudatel’nye komissii), but also many various ways of expressing protest, seeking justice for police crimes, or proposing expertise in legislation improvement. My aim is to provide with an analysis based on in depth field research, already partly done, to help understanding how stakeholders from the society are in capacity to challenge and remedy police abuse by establishing a set of various attitudes and strategies towards law enforcement institutions. By analyzing those elements, I wish to understand how the question of violence is addressed by the State and by the society. This will also contribute to the understanding of State/society relations, in particular in the perspective of modernization of the Russian state. A third aspect of the research that I hope I’ll have the opportunity to develop during my stay at Aleksanteri Institute deals with legacy of the soviet past: Talking of today’s “civic control” leads many to evoke the “narodny control” that existed in the Soviet system. Is this parallel established just for a convenient use of a close term, or does it testify a more in depth parallel to be established and further investigated?

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Anna-Liisa Heusala and Markku Kivinen

Olga Malinova

Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

“In search of a "usable past": Discourse about national identity in Post-Soviet Russia”
Fellowship period: March 15–May 15, 2013

Olga Malinova, Dr. of Philosophy, is chief research fellow of the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences, Russian Academy of Sciences; Professor of MGIMO – University; Professor of the Higher School of Economics. Prof. Malinova is the past president of the Russian Association of Political Science (2008-2010). Professor Malinova is an Aleksanteri Fellowship alumnus. She is an author and editor of several books and articles about political discourse and political ideologies, institutes and practices of the public sphere in Russia, liberalism, nationalism and national identity, including: Malinova, Olga, Liberal Nationalism (the Middle of the Nineteenth – the Beginning of the Twentieth Century) (Moscow: RIK Rusanova, 2000) (in Rus.), Malinova, Olga,  Russia and “the West” in the Twentieth Century: Transformation of Discourse About Collective Identity (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2009) (in Rus.), Ideas and Symbolic Space of Post-Soviet Russia: Dynamics, Institutional Environment, Actors, ed. by Olga Malinova (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2011).

Abstract of current research:
The project “In Search of a “Usable Past”: Discourse about National Identity in Post-Soviet Russia” is devoted to a study of the symbolic struggle over interpretation of the national history as a part of politics of identity. Focusing on analysis of the official rhetoric and broader political discourse it seeks to analyze the principal shifts in political uses of the national history in 1990-2000s and to find out how the strategies of the major actors of symbolic politics contributed to the dynamics of the post-Soviet ‘crisis of identity’. The project supposes a study of practices of political uses of the national past by political leaders and public intellectuals from different segments of the Russian political spectrum in various contexts: for legitimization of decisions, mobilization of group solidarity and creating symbolic boarders with ‘others’, electoral campaigning etc. The project has started in June 2011 with support of the Russian Foundation for Humanities (grant no. 11-03-00202a) and is supposed to be finished in December 2013. The visiting fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute is going to be used for a work at the book that should result from the project.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Markku Kangaspuro and Hanna Smith

Arthur Mason

University of California, Berkeley, United States

“Assessing Intermediary Expertise in Russian Arctic Gas Development”
Fellowship period: May 1–June 30, 2013

Arthur Mason is an arctic anthropologist focused on energy development in Western Canada, Alaska, and the Barents Sea region of Norway and Russia. His research and teaching interests include the daily life of arctic Indigenous peoples and the relationship between northern development, expertise, and energy globalization. Dr. Mason holds degrees in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University (BA) and University of California at Berkeley (PhD) and is the recipient of two Fulbright Chair awards for arctic research (Canada and Norway). Professor Mason is co-founding organizer of the Association for Polar Early Career Scientists. His political appointments include Associate Director of Energy in the Office of the Alaska Governor in Washington D.C. Dr. Mason is Director of StudioPolar, a National Science Foundation initiative that examines the work of consultant expertise in stabilizing perspectives on arctic natural gas development. The research is a comparative study of North American(U.S. and Canada and European (Russia and Norway) interpretations of energy systems development. He teaches courses on institutions, energy, and community; science and technology studies; ecological modernization; energy politics and aesthetics. Arthur Mason is Visiting Assistant Professor, Energy and Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley.

Abstract of current research:
My research applies anthropological theories and methods to address forecasting, risk analysis, and other predictive technologies and forms of expertise that impact High North hydrocarbon development. I detail the communicative process by which scenarios become entrenched, but also opposed, in government and industry planning and I am working to develop a cooperative knowledge network of experts, actors, and coalitions in the areas of cultural politics and political economy of arctic energy development—consisting of the North American Arctic and Norwegian/Russian Arctic. The study intends to create an open exchange among scholars and experts who specialize in visualizing Arctic resources in ways that enable
policy change and potentially infrastructure as well. In Helsinki, I will carry out ethnographically grounded characterizations of the process by which expert descriptions are produced and communicated on Russian arctic natural gas development. Proposed activities include interviews with representatives of the Aleksanteri Institute and Fortum Corporation. I plan to focus on the strategies of translation, how knowledge is modified for example, and made public and private, the constant shuffling to and for between the outside world and the office that creates the pathways, content and context that influence the conditions of work and its rate of development. This includes first-hand experience documenting the construction of key products (statements, forecasts), how they are packaged (as press releases, powerpoint presentation, long reports), how different elements of knowledge are highlighted for different users (technical versus lay), and; the cycle used to bring different elements together for product creation (money, workforce, instruments, arguments, innovations).

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen and Markku Kivinen

Galina Nikiporets-Takigawa

University of Cambridge, UK

“Mapping Russian Protest"
Fellowship period: December 1, 2012–January 31, 2013

Dr Galina Nikiporets-Takigawa is MAW Special consultant in linguistics and quantitative approach at the University of Cambridge, member of Clare Hall. She graduated from Moscow State University and has MA and PhD in Linguistics and Russian Studies. Before moving to the UK, Galina worked at the University of Tokyo and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, where she held the position of Associate Professor from 2001 to 2009.

In 2009, she was invited by the University of Edinburgh to conduct a project on role of digital communication in national identity construction of Russian-speaking community, resulted in a co-authored monograph ‘Negotiating Linguistic, Cultural and Social Identities in the Post-Soviet World’ (Peter Lang, forthcoming 2012), and dozens of articles in Slavica Helsingiensia 40, Voprosy Iazykoznaniia 2008, etc.  

Her research covers a wide range of issues, but all concern media and society interplay. She teaches and supervises modules on Internet-based research and Russian identity construction. She is currently an Academic advisor for the Higher School of Economics (Moscow) “Blogosphere Impact to ethnic and national conflicts” project.

Abstract of current research:
Among Galina's current research interests are the role of social media in memory wars, national identity construction, language change, ethnic and national conflicts, and in on-going Russian social and political processes.

Since the early stages of her research, which resulted in the volume 'Integrum: Quantitative Methods and the Humanities', she shares the belief that accurately organized and analysed 'big data' gathered from digital space are essential to prove hypothesis. Thus, currently in Cambridge, she is developing a relevant methodology of measuring, tracing and visualizing memory wars, based on mass digital media data and various quantitative approaches. Further details of Galina's work in this area can be found in the East European Memory Studies (Cambridge), in the chapter 'Memory Events and Memory Wars: Victory Day in L'viv, 2011 through the Prism of Quantitative Analysis' (Routledge, forthcoming 2012), also available at :

Within the framework of the 'Memory at War' Project and a new joint project 'How to Map the Past: Mnemonics, a Quantitative Approach to Memory Studies', Galina, together with Memory at War colleagues, monitors the memorial themes of the current protest movement in Russia, and is writing an article and chapters on memorial models in the Russian protest movement. Her second major article is on the role of social media (Twitter, VKontakte) in political activism, submitted for publication in 2012 for the New ICTs and Social Media: Revolution, Counter-Revolution and Social Change (IRIE Vol. 18 (12/2012).

During her research fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, Dr Nikiporets-Takigawa will prepare this paper for publication and will work on a co-authored article on 'Memory models in the Russian protest movement, 2011-2012'. She will also continue to work on a chapter for a thematic issue of MAW on the same topic. Upcoming projects include a workshop, together with Aleksanteri colleagues, on the use of Integrum, as well as her distance academic advisor duties.

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

Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik

Aston University, United Kingdom

“Transitional justice in Serbia: Dominant narratives and local-local tensions”
Fellowship period: August 1–31, 2012

Dr Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik is a lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Aston University, Birmingham UK. Previously, she held a visiting fellowship at the European Union Institute for Security Studies and is an Aleksanteri Fellowship alumnus. She holds a PhD in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Birmingham, UK. Her book, Ethnic Conflict and War Crimes: Narratives of Denial in Post-Conflict Serbia, will be published by IB Tauris in September 2012.

Abstract of current research:
Jelena's current research deals with transitional justice and post-conflict transitions in Serbia. In particular, she is interested in the ways in which societies understand, deal with and communicate their pasts. Specifically, her work explores the micro and local-level responses to international initiatives and projects, such as the war crimes court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Methodologically, her work is concerned with how knowledge of the local, domestic and the everyday can contribute to a broader understanding of key issues in international relations, such as transitional justice and post-conflict reconciliation.

During her research fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute in August 2012, Jelena will work on a paper which considers local activism in Serbia and the ways in which domestic NGOs and civil society implement projects aimed at confronting the past. This paper will examine the ways in which some of these projects are contested locally. This paper will consider the divergent ways in which local activists and local 'ordinary' populations understand issues such as reconciliation.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Jouni Järvinen and Brendan Humphreys

Elena Omel'chenko

Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg / Ul’ianovsk State University, Russia

“The youth question. Changing perspectives: from a subcultural to solidarity approach”
Fellowship period: April 15–May 15, 2013

Professor Elena Omel'chenko has graduated from Moscow State University (degree in Philosophy), and she has also completed her Doctorate at MGU. In 2005, she conferred the title of ‘Doctor of Sociology’ at Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Sociology (Moscow). She is the founder and leader of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre ‘Region’ at the Ulyanovsk State University. From 2009, she is Professor and Head of Department of Sociology, Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg and Director of the Centre for youth Studies at HSE. She is working mainly in the field of youth studies, but with very broad focus. She has publications on youth violence, youth drug abuse, ethnic and religious identities, gender issues and sexualities, migration, but her main sphere of interests are youth (sub)cultures. Her current projects explore generational formations, youth solidarities, patriotic moods of youth and influence of soviet past on young people.

Abstract of current research:
During her research fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, Professor Omel'chenko will work on a monograph on “The youth question. Changing perspectives: from a subcultural to solidarity approach”. The originality of the monograph is formed from a shift in research focus from internal group communication of different subcultural and ‘styled’ youth groups (consumer and cultural preferences, the character of corporeal performance, political orientation) to inter-group interaction in the context of city life. The aim of this particular monograph is to reveal and conceptualise a solidarity approach to researching the daily routine of young people, which allows us to depart from the rigid frameworks of the subcultural approach and to see a particular forging of new relationships between the different groups in the youth cultural scenes of Russian cities. The application of the concept of solidarity allows us to overcome these basic lines enquiry - tensions in inter-group communication over values and culture. Developing our approach allows us to emphasise, namely, the particular empathy and hostility within the youth spaces. The intensity of attraction and maintaining distance (tension within inter-group communication) allows us make judgements about key values and ideas around which symbolic battles unfold. In these fights is reflected an internal search for group or individual authenticity as a way (measure) of influencing discursive practices (of the government, politicians, the media) of individuals and groups as a whole. The empirical basis of the monograph consists of research material gathered between 2005 and 2012:"Subcultures and life styles project” (EU funded, lead by prof. H.Pilkington, 2005-2008); “Generation R? Youth in economic recession in comparative European perspective” (Program of fundamental studies, HSE, lead by prof. E.Omelchenko, 2009); “New youth social movements” (Program of fundamental studies, HSE, lead by prof. E.Omelchenko, 2010); “Youth solidarities in local and global contexts: economy, politics, culture” (Program of fundamental studies, HSE, lead by prof. E.Omelchenko, 2011); “Innovative potential of Russian youth: solidarities, activism and civic responsibility”(Program of fundamental studies, HSE, lead by prof. E.Omelchenko, 2012); “MYPLACE (Memory, youth, political legacy and civic engagement)” (FP7 project, lead by prof. H.Pilkington, 2011-2014).

Academic host at the Aleksanteri Institute: Jussi Lassila

Bettina Renz

University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

”Modernisation of the Russian armed forces: doctrine and strategic thinking”
Fellowship period: May 1–June 30, 2013

Bettina Renz is a lecturer in International Security at the University of Nottingham’s School of Politics & International Relations. In 2005 she completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Russian and East European Studies, where she also is a Honorary Research Fellow. Following an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Birmingham she lectured Defence Studies for King’s College London (Royal Air Force College) before being appointed to her current post in 2007. Her main area of expertise is contemporary Russian security and defence policy with a particular interest in post-Soviet reforms of the military and security sector. Recent published work includes ‘Russian military modernization: cause, course and consequences’ (Problems of Post-Communism, 59(1) 2012); ‘Traffickers, terrorists and a “new security challenge”: Russian counternarcotics strategy’ (Small Wars and Insurgencies, 22(1) 2011) and ‘Chinese migration: still the major issue in Russian Far East/Chinese North East relations?’ (Pacific Review, 23(2) 2010). For a full list of publications see the website below.

Abstract of current research:
Bettina Renz’s research interests are in two broad and interrelated subject areas. First, she has an interest in organisational change and modernisation of the Russian security sector in the post-Soviet era, including the governance of military organisations dealing with operations other than war and reform of the regular armed forces. The place of the security sector in Russian politics and society, as well as Russia’s international cooperation in the security and military spheres, have been important facets of this work. Secondly, she has conducted research into Russia’s perceptions of and approaches to ‘new’ security challenges, including migration, illegal drug trafficking and terrorism. The findings of this research were published in a co-authored monograph in 2006 (Securitising Russia; Manchester University Press) and in a number of more recent articles. Methodologically her work is grounded in an area-studies approach, informed by relevant theoretical traditions in international relations and relying on context-based regional knowledge.

The research to be conducted at the Aleksanteri Institute concerns developments in Russian strategic thinking and doctrine (or lack thereof) as an important element of military modernisation. Much research and analysis on Russian military modernisation has focused on institutional changes and technological developments. However, the ability of these changes to truly modernise Russia’s military are far from clear. As has been noted with regard to Western military forces, superior fire power and technological superiority do not automatically translate into success in the battlefield. The failure to adapt conceptual thinking and doctrine to the changing security environment is widely recognised as the major reason for this. This recognition is highly significant also for the prospects and problems of Russian military modernisation. Even if technological, financial and manpower problems can be overcome, such changes need to be accompanied by a transformation of thinking on strategy and doctrine if the country’s armed forces are to become truly modern.

Personal website:

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

Dieter Segert

University of Vienna, Austria

“Something is going wrong: How to understand better the controversies on democracy and its crises after 1989 in Eastern Europe”
Fellowship period: May 15–June 15, 2013

Dieter Segert is Professor of Political Science and the Deputy Speaker of the Research Platform "Wiener Osteuropaforum" at the University of Vienna. He was born in 1952 in Salzwedel (GDR) and studied philosophy in Berlin (HUB) and Moscow (MGU). Since 1978 he has been Assistant Professor/Professor at Humboldt University Berlin, and he is co-founder of the academic discipline political science in GDR (1989-1990). In fall-winter 1989-1990 he was one of the activists of a rank and file movement within the state party SED. He has been Guest Professor at University of Bath, Charles University Prague and European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). He was employed by the German Agency for Civic Education in Bonn in 2002-2005. Professor Segert is an Aleksanteri Fellowship alumnus. His research interest include: Conditions of functioning and endangering of democracy; State Socialism and its heritage; Party politics. His recent publications are: The Crisis of Representative Democracy in the Post-Yugoslav Region. Discrepancies of Elite Policies and Citizens’ Expectations, co-author with Vedran Dzihic and Angela Wieser, in Southeastern Europe 36(2012), 87-110. Lessons from “post-Yugoslav” Democratization: Functional Problems of Stateness and the Problems of Democracy, with Vedran Dzihic, East European States and Societies Vol. 26, Issue 2, May 2012, 239 – 254.

Abstract of current research:
The results of democratization in Eastern Europe after 1989 are clearly ambivalent: Some evaluate democratization as a great success story while others pinpoint disappointments. The differing evaluations depend partly on who is evaluating and what is the focus of an evaluation: the losers or winners of transformation, the political elites vs. the bulk of population. The results also differ greatly between the countries, e.g.., whether we have in mind Albania or Czech Republic. (See a. o. Kornai 2006) But this kind of differentiation is not the whole story: Important are as well the chosen theoretical perspectives on the results of transformation. Different theories shed divergent light on the outcomes. My research project tries to combine the two main theoretical perspectives on democracy in Eastern Europe (transitions to democracy and its critics together with the discourse on new authoritarianism) with the Western concept of “Post-democracy”. Furthermore, in the project there are two case studies on political change in post-socialism: power and its instruments in Russia after 2000 and endangering of democracy in East Central Europe (Hungary and/ or Czech Republic) after 2004.

The first aim of the project is to answer the question, to what extent the Western research program of “post-democracy” can be applied to the political changes in Eastern Europe. The East is regarded by the author as a harbinger for the West. (See Bos/Segert 2008),  as a kind of a laboratory for the West to think what is going on if some preconditions of democratic rule disappear suddenly. In this sense the second aim of the project is to check to what degree the findings of the research on new authoritarianism in Eastern Europe could be used for a better understanding of crisis phenomena in the “old West”.

Personal website:

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Tapani Kaakkuriniemi and Katalin Miklossy

Andrei Sõtšov

University of Tartu, Estonia

“Choices of Orthodox Church towards identity construction in contemporary Russia and in relations between Orthodox Churches in Russia, Estonia and Finland”
Fellowship period: August 1–31, 2012

Andrei Sõtšov is a Research Fellow of Church History at the University of Tartu, Estonia. He also holds Fellowships in the Estonian Science Foundation’s target financed projects, examining Soviet Estonia in the Era of the Cold War and contemporary diminishing institutionalization of religion (de-institutionalization) and the decline of the Christian practices and beliefs (de-Christianization) in modern religious landscape. His previous research has focused on the history of the Orthodox Church in Estonia in the late 20th century as well as on the relations between the church and state in Soviet Union. He is currently focusing on the Choices of Orthodox Church towards identity construction in contemporary Russia and in relations between Orthodox Churches in Russia, Estonia and Finland.

Abstract of current research:
The aim of my postdoctoral project is to understand and explain the role of the Orthodox Church in Russia, Finland and Estonia in the formation and reassertion of national identity. During the fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, I will focus on different national identity expressions of Orthodox Churches in modern Russia, Finland and Estonia, such us re-interpretation of contemporary Church History, tendencies in the canonisation of new saints and polemic for canonical-territorial influence. A simultaneous goal is to understand the reasons and processes in which the local Orthodox churches in Estonia and Finland are adapting to the reality of post-communist era.

My project aims to outline the nature of partnership expressions (in media, foreign policy, public education, army) between the Russian Orthodox Church and the State, and seeks to answer the question of how compatible is the theory of “civil religion” (Robert Bellah) in the case of  modern Russia. I also study the roots and the nature of the conflict between the Orthodox Churches in Russia, Finland and Estonia and investigate the debates over re-interpretations of Church History of Orthodoxy in Finland and Estonia, which in the last decade have become visibly apparent in the Russian Orthodox Church writings (e. g. Church periodic, sermons of clergy, published interviews).

Work plan for the fellowship period  consists of collecting materials in the local archives and libraries and working on an article on the on the choices of the Russian Orthodox Church in the formation of national identity and its expressions in relationships between the Orthodox jurisdictions in Russia, Finland and Estonia.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Elina Kahla and Sigrid Kaasik-Krogerus

Mikhail D. Suslov

Russian Institute for Cultural Research, Moscow / Uppsala University, Sweden

“Debating authenticity: Appropriation of Slavophilism in modern Russian political philosophy and ideology from the late imperial period to the present”
Fellowship period: February 1–March 31, 2013

Dr. Mikhail D. Suslov is a Senior Research Fellow at the Russian Institute for Cultural Research (Moscow) and a visiting researcher at the Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University with the project on ideology of the contemporary Russian Orthodox Church. He holds a Candidate of Science degree in Russian history (2003) and a PhD, defended at the European University Institute (Florence) in 2009. His doctoral thesis deals with geopolitical utopianism in Russian history and political culture in comparative perspective. He has developed an interest in the longue durée approach to Russian political philosophy with the focus on the intersections among the Slavophile ideas, anti-colonial sensibility and religious fundamentalism. His publications in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Russian History, Ab Imperio, Revolutionary Russia, Acta Slavica Iaponica, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Voprosy filosofii and other international journals analyze various ideological manifestations of Russian (geo)political imagination. Dr. Suslov discusses, the means by which ideological constellations ‘newness enters’ into the Russian intellectual history.  Now he works on a book project, which discusses appropriation and revival of Slavophilism in the contemporary ideological debates in Russia.

Abstract of current research:
My general intention is to introduce two undeservedly neglected methodologies: Utopian Studies, and post-colonial theory, to the field of Russian intellectual history. This would help me to analyze Slavophilism and its ideological evolutions in the late 19th – early 20th century (neo-Slavophilism and Eurasianism), late Soviet period (right-wing Samizdat) and in today’s Russia (quasi-fundamentalism of the ‘Russian Doctrine’ type). Due to the ambivalent position of Russia as both a colonizer and a colonized, Russian intellectuals were one of the first to conceptualize anti-colonial criticism. To a great extent early Slavophiles prefigured 20th-century debates on the authenticity of the colonial peoples, and shaped political imagination of the next generations of the Russian intellectuals, who tried to conceive of an alternative to the imperial modernization. However, by doing so, intellectuals drove themselves to a number of paradoxes and contradictions, characteristic of the colonial situation. These paradoxes include the paradox of self-reduction, that is the intention to avoid productive imagination as an enslaving practice of the West; the paradox of ‘négritude’, i.e. restoration of the colonial differences by turning over the roles the colonized and the colonizer; the paradox of self-government  (Slavophiles, belonging to the political elite, tried to evoke grassroots’ spontaneous activities). All in all, the Slavophile tradition of anti-colonialism as a ‘utopia for people’, not ‘people’s utopia’, stood at a threshold of a truly post-colonial theory, but it never transcended it. Nevertheless, I argue that Slavophilism is important and central to the political discussions in Russia and elsewhere because of its take on such topics as authenticity and modernization, rational planning and grassroots self-government, empire and nation, memory and forgetting. The liminal position of the Slavophile political philosophy on the border of politics and utopia, between the colonizers and the colonized, conditions its role as a point of conceptual growth, from where ideological ‘newness comes’. This said, I intend to devote two month at the Aleksanteri Institute to tightening the analytical framework of my argumentation and to writing an Introduction for the proposed monograph.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sanna Turoma and Vesa Oittinen

Peggy Watson

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

"Women's Activism in a Context of Class Creation: the Case of Health Care Change in Poland"
Fellowship period: September 1– October 31, 2012

Peggy Watson graduated in Psychology from Edinburgh University, and holds a PhD in the Sociology of Health and Illness from the University of Warwick. During the Cold War she worked at the Universities of Warsaw and Wrocław for five years. She is Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow and Director of Studies for Politics, Psychology and Sociology at Homerton College, Cambridge. She has published four books, the most recent of which is a collected volume entitled Health Care Reform and Globalisation: The US, China and Europe in Comparative Perspective (Routledge 2012). The book deals with the different processes that are involved when countries which are differently situated with respect to the international political economy instigate radical health care change. Dr Watson is the author of scholarly articles which have appeared in Social Science and Medicine, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Sociology, Gender and Education, Health and Place, Critical Social Policy, and New Left Review, among others. She is also the translator of ten works from the Polish. She has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and in 2012 was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation residency at the Bellagio Center, Italy.

Abstract of current research:
My current project draws on interview and documentary data collected over a number of years to analyse three fields of class formation in Poland. One refers to ‘the city’ as a site and language of class formation; the second focuses on mental health, while  the third looks at the relationship between mainstream feminism and class. I’ll be working on this last area during my time in Helsinki, using health and health care as a concrete referent.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Meri Kulmala and Suvi Salmenniemi