Visiting Fellows 2017-2018

In the academic year 2017–2018, sixteen scholars have been invited onto the Aleksanteri Visiting Fellows Programme.

They come from Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States and are conducting research on diverse topics ranging from Con­tem­por­ary Rus­sian Law-mak­ing to So­cial Con­struc­tion of Ho­mo­sexual Male Iden­tit­ies in Bul­garia. Please take a minute to browse through the short bios below, and do not hesitate to make contact with the visitors!

Bindman, Eleanor

Substituting for the Welfare State? Non-State Actors and Social Service Delivery in Russia

Time of visit: 1–31 August 2017

Dr. Eleanor Bindman is a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Liverpool. From 2014-17 she held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London and was a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester from 2013-14. She completed her PhD in Russian and EU Politics at the University of Glasgow in 2013. Before undertaking her PhD, she worked as a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Moscow and for the Open Source Centre in the UK. Her research interests include policymaking processes in electoral authoritarian regimes, social policy, social rights and welfare reform in Russia and other post-Soviet states. Her book ‘Social Rights in Russia: From Imperfect Past to Uncertain Future’ will be published by Routledge in October 2017.

Short description of ongoing research:
Dr. Bindman’s current research project aims to explore the changing nature of social service delivery in contemporary Russia. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and subsequent radical economic and political reforms have led to major and sustained changes in the nature of welfare provision and social assistance in Russia. These changes have seen a move away from the Soviet model of heavy subsidies, broad state social provision and the promotion of social rights to a mixed but more broadly neo-liberal model based on means-testing, privatisation and increased emphasis on individual rather than state responsibility for welfare provision. A fairly recent aspect of official policy has been to involve non-state actors such as socially oriented NGOs and commercial enterprises in the direct provision of social services which have traditionally fallen within the state’s remit. As a result, the Putin and Medvedev administrations have sought to give the impression of reasserting the state’s primacy in relation to guaranteeing social rights through social service provision whilst maintaining what is in fact a mixed model of neoliberal and state-centred welfare policy, leaving Russia with a complex and frequently incoherent model of welfare provision. In addition, given continuing public expectations that the state should provide social services and the fact that more consistent and larger-scale efforts at the federal and regional level to involve socially oriented NGOs in service provision have only been in evidence since 2010, there are also questions surrounding how the use of alternative service providers has been received by those making use of such services.

All of this calls for a new conceptualisation of the emerging welfare regime in Russia that goes beyond existing ideal types of welfare state and encompasses this wider range of welfare providers and their recipients. During her time at the Aleksanteri Institute Dr. Bindman will complete a journal article for publication in a leading peer-reviewed journal based on fieldwork she has conducted on the outsourcing of social services in various locations in Russia between 2015 and 2016 and will benefit from feedback on the project from colleagues at Aleksanteri who also work on welfare-related issues.

Email: e.bindman[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Meri Kulmala, Anna Tarasenko

Darakchi, Shaban

Homosexual Cold War: Social Construction of Homosexual Male Identities in Bulgaria

Time of visit: 3 October–3 December 2017

Shaban Darakchi holds a PhD degree in Sociology. Dr. Darakchi is a junior researcher at the Bulgarian Academy of Science. His main professional interests are gender, sexuality, ethnicity and religion in Eastern Europe and Bulgaria. His doctoral thesis explores the changing gender roles and notions of sexuality among the Bulgarian Muslims. His book based on this study is one of the first complete works on gender studies in Bulgaria. He is currently working on a project investigating the structure and the development of LGBTI minorities in Bulgaria in context of the globalization. He has published one book and 18 articles devoted to the intersections of gender and sexuality. In 2014 he was a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, USA and in 2016 he spent 6 months at the Australian Centre for Sex Research as an Endeavour Fellow. Shaban has also been working as a trainer in non-formal education projects and he has participated as an invited speaker to conferences and summer schools in many European countries, Canada, South Africa, Australia and the USA. 

Short description of ongoing research:
My current research project aims to investigate the social construction of homosexual identities in Bulgaria. Homosexual practices were outlawed in Bulgaria under socialism and they were prosecuted by the communist state. After 1989, the issue of homosexuality entered public discourse but support for homosexuality, and in particular male homosexuality, encountered strong resistance from the mainstream media. This resistance was driven by the homophobic attitudes of political and religious elites, which resulted in high levels of discrimination and abuse against sexual minorities and a lack of political will and measures to address this abuse.Ironically, the expansion of the EU in 2007 shifted the perspective on homosexuality, confronting the Bulgarian government with numerous issues in the process of transposing the EU directives regarding the rights of LGBTI people. This study will be one of the first to explore the social construction of gay identity in Bulgaria and it will make a very important contribution to the existing literature on the topic of gay identities. The main objective of the study is to investigate the social construction of gay male identities, focusing on what kind of different experiences and difficult exigencies have been faced by three generations of gay men in Bulgaria in comparison to other communities globally. 

Email: shaban.darakchiev[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Meri Kulmala, Saara Ratilainen

Matsiyevsky, Yuriy

Revolutionary Outcomes in Hybrid Regimes: the Case of Ukraine

Time of visit: 22 October–23 December 2017

Yuriy Matsiyevsky is Associate Professor of Political Science and the head of the Center for Political Research at Ostroh Academy National University (Ukraine). He received his doctoral degree in political science from Lviv University (Ukraine) and habilitation from the Ivan Kuras Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Matsiyevsky has held several research fellowships, including a Fulbright award at Kennan Institute, Washington, DC, a Think Visegrad fellowship at the Center for Eastern Studies, Warsaw and a Carnegie Corporation fellowship at UC, Berkeley. Since 2014, he has been a member of the PONARS Eurasia policy network. He is the author of Trapped in Hybridity: Zigzags of Ukraine’s Political Regime Transformations (Chernivtsi, 2016) and contributor to six collective monographs, published in Ukraine and Poland. His papers have appeared in Russian Politics and LawPolitical StudiesCrossroads DigestNowa UkrainaKrytykaPoliteja and Wschod Europy. His research interests are focused on democratisation, informal institutions and regime dynamics in comparative perspective.

Short description of ongoing research:
Do the three years that have passed since the victory of the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine give enough time to ask: has the Ukraine’s political regime changed? This empirical question can be translated into a broader, theoretical one; namely, why a revolution caused a change of regime in some polities, but not in others. Despite the growing body of research on the stability and change of hybrid regimes, the question of revolutionary outcomes in hybrid regimes is yet to be studied systematically. 

This project seeks to contribute to these discussions in both directions. Empirically, it seeks to assess the changes in the dimensions of core regimes, while theoretically it brings the Ukrainian case to a broader debate on the factors behind the endurance of hybrid regimes.
The primary result of this project will be a research article, although its broader intention is a book on Ukraine’s regime dynamics since the 2014 revolution. In particular, while at the Aleksanteri, I am going to test the argument that Ukraine’s hybridity is not a transitory phenomenon, but one that can be described as a complex institutional trap. If this argument holds true, it could challenge the ‘regime change’ paradigm by offering a new insight into revolutionary outcomes in hybrid regimes.

Email: yurii.matsiievskyi[AT] 
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Vladimir Gel’man, Markku Kangaspuro

Temkina, Anna

Women as Mothers, Consumers, Citizens and Patients: Childbirth Care in St. Petersburg

Time of visit: 1–31 December 2017

Anna Temkina received her Ph.D. in social sciences from the University of Helsinki in 1997, and she is Chair in Public Health and Gender and co-director of the Gender Programme at the European University at St. Petersburg. Her interest in gender studies and feminism began in the 1990s, and now her areas of expertise include gender, reproductive health, sexuality, feminist theory and gender relations in Soviet and Post-Soviet societies. She is the author of Women’s Sexual Life: Between Freedom and Subordination (2008; in Russian), Russia in transition (1997; in English). She is the author and co-editor of In Search of Sexuality (2002), New Byt: Gender Studies of Everyday Life (2009), Health and Trust: Gender Approach to Reproductive Medicine (2009), Health and Intimate Life (2011) and 12 Lectures in Gender Sociology (2015; in Russian). 

Short description of ongoing research:
My recent project is oriented towards an analysis of the childbirth practices and models of motherhood of urban Russian women. The goal is to grasp the organisation of childbirth as an intersectional model of citizenship, motherhood, patienthood and class. Basing my research on a qualitative methodology, I study how women make their choices, construct trust and negotiate medical encounters in different institutional settings. The practices of choice expand the spaces of opportunity of young Russian women but also face institutional barriers, and these practices are stratified by class. The topic is related and informs on family policy and the restructuring of welfare service provision. 

Practices of choice work as a mechanism of class boundary construction in the sphere of life and family planning. This dimension is the focus of my research. I am interested in the organisation and social and emotional outcomes of childbirth for different groups of women. I am trying to understand how active women from different social  groups organise  their pregnancy, motherhood and  childcare; make choices, negotiate trust and organise better medical services; interact with doctors and midwives; negotiate their conditions, medical interventions, and husbands’ participation during delivery.  I propose that if and when women do not succeed in achieving their goals, they became more active as demanding patients and citizens. 

Email: atemkina[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Meri Kulmala, Anna Klimova

Ziemer, Ulrike

Ulrike Ziemer, University of Winchester, UK
“Geopolitical Challenges and National Identity in Armenia: Exploring the Contours of Domestic Insecurities and the Russian Security Discourse”
(1 August–30 September 2017)

Ulrike Ziemer is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Department of Politics and Society, University of Winchester. Previously, she was CEELBAS Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Migration and Diasporic Citizenship in Russia and Eastern Europe at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), University College London. Prior to this, Ulrike received her PhD from the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies (CREES), University of BirminghamShe has published two books, Ethnic Belonging, Gender, and Cultural Practice: Youth Identities in Contemporary Russia (2011, IBIDEM Verlag); and East European Diasporas, Migration and Cosmopolitanism (2012, Routledge) and numerous articles in journals such as Europe-Asia Studies, Caucasus Survey and the European Journal for Cultural Studies. Her general research interests lie in the sociologies of gender, migration and diasporas in Russia and the Southern Caucasus. 

Short description of ongoing research:
During her visit to the Aleksanteri Institute, Ulrike will be analysing data from a larger project on women and political transformation in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. This project included several field trips (2015-2017) and numerous interviews with women from all walks of life, including activists and NGO workers, but also politicians and regional experts in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Her research project at the Aleksanteri Institute ‘Geopolitical Challenges and National Identity in Armenia’ will explore domestic insecurities in Armenia and Russia’s security discourse from a sociological perspective. In particular, recent protests in Armenia have generated geopolitical challenges alongside domestic insecurities. How do Armenians securitise their families if largely dependent on Russia’s unchallenged status in the region? The family has been central in Armenian culture due to Armenia’s absence of history as an independent state. In the absence of statehood, the concept of ‘nation-as-family’ evolved in Armenian society. One part of the security discourse is based on military protection, but the relationship between social and economic security for families is unclear. This study aims to investigate the security discourse as a terrain of discourses and practices that are applied by families and individuals. At the Aleksanteri Institute, Ulrike will also continue to work on her forthcoming book Women’s Everyday Lives and Politics in the South Caucasus - Through War and Peace (Palgrave). 

Email: Ulrike.Ziemer[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Katri Pynnöniemi, Hanna Smith

Bergmane, Una

Memory, Myths and the End of the Empire: the Public Debates on the Past and the Soviet Disintegration (1987-1991)

Time of Visit: 15 January–15 April 2018

Una Bergmane is the Baltic Sea Fellow at Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and the 2016-17 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University. She holds a PhD from Sciences Po Paris with highest distinction for her work on French and U.S. foreign policy regarding the Baltic question during the disintegration of USSR. Bergmane has previously been a Fox Fellow at Yale University and a visiting researcher at Turku University, Finland.  She is currently working on a book project entitled The politics of uncertainty: the Baltic Question and the emergence of the post-Cold War order.  Una has published on questions such as French foreign policy at the end of the Cold War, Baltic public diplomacy and current security dynamics of the Baltic states. Her research interests include Soviet collapse, memory dynamics, end of the cold war international relations. 

Short description of ongoing research:
My postdoctoral project focuses on the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact (MRP) debate in the USSR during the years 1987-1991 as a case study for examining the role that collective memory and historical myths played in the power relations between the Moscow Center and the Republics in the context of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. This interdisciplinary project is situated at the crossroads of political history, transnational history and memory studies, and attempts to provide archival source-based research connecting two distinct research fields: memory studies and the historiography of the Soviet disintegration. This research intends to explore the role that the MRP debate played in the disintegration of the USSR, its contribution in delegitimizing the Soviet power, its impact on the aggravation of the Soviet Nationality Problem and the consequent redefinition of the relations between the republics and the center. In particular, I focus on three themes: instrumentalisation of memory in the competition for “political capital”, transnational networks of marginalized memory communities, the role of the MRP debate in the (re)-elaboration of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian national identities.  
Three months stay at the Aleksanteri Institute will allow me to work on one of the main axes of this research - transnational networks of marginalised memory communities. In 1987-1989, Baltic activists actively sought support across both internal and external borders of the USSR in order to shed light on the existence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact secret protocols. One of the main groups of their interlocutors were Finnish historians and civil society activists. During my fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, I will study these contacts and explore other eventual channels of knowledge transmission between Finland and the Baltic Soviet Republics during the crucial years preceding Soviet collapse. 

Email: una.bergmane[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Markku Kangaspuro, Sigrid Kaasik-Krogerus 

Buscaneanu, Sergiu

Strategic U-Turns between the EU and Russia: Explanatory Prospects of Prospect Theory

Time of visit: 1 January–28 February 2018

Sergiu Buscaneanu is a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of European and International Studies, King’s College London. Previously, he has been research fellow at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study; visiting researcher at the Institute for European Integration, University of Hamburg; Institute of Social Sciences, Humboldt University of Berlin; and Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. He holds a PhD (2014) in political science from Humboldt University of Berlin and is the author of “Regime Dynamics in EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood: EU Democracy Promotion, International Influences, and Domestic Contexts” published in 2016 with Palgrave Macmillan. 

Short description of ongoing research:
The project worked on at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, is part of a broader research project, which seeks to test the analytic potential of prospect theory (PT) in explaining the strategic choices of ruling elites in EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries to opt for the EU or Eurasian Economic Union as integration projects. Applications of PT to political science proved to be highly beneficial, but the existing scholarship tends to be limited to the US foreign policy, Soviet intervention in Syria, the study of wars and decision-making in domestic affairs. The situation in which ruling elites in EaP countries are forced by various circumstances to opt for definite integration choices offers arguably a unique possibility for testing the validity of PT in an essentially different policy, strategic and regional context. In this regard, the research seeks to assess the cross-cultural validity of PT, indicate how far it can travel in accounting for the strategic choices of ruling elites in the region concerned and identify its limitations and scope conditions. Drawing on an interdisciplinary area of knowledge, the project departs from the premise that communication between political science and related academic disciplines is essential for a better understanding of complex decision systems in Europe, its tumultuous neighbourhood and elsewhere. 

At the Aleksanteri Institute, Sergiu Buscaneanu will work on a research article, which aims at situating his new project within the existing scholarship and at reviewing the applications of PT in political science. The article seeks also to conceptualize the domain of gain or loss with regard to states in situations of strategic choices. Understanding whether a given state is perceived as being in the domain of gain or loss stands crucial for the anticipation of risk-averse or risk seeking behaviours.

Email: sergiu.buscaneanu[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Tuomas ForsbergKatri Pynnöniemi

Gurova, Olga

Creative Entrepreneurship in Contemporary Russia: State, Market and Agency

Time of visit: 15 April–15 May 2018

Olga Gurova (PhD, Cultural Studies) holds the position of Assistant Professor at the Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University, Denmark. She previously served as the Academy of Finland Research Fellow at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki (Finland) and as a researcher at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Finland). She also worked as a docent at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (Russia) and was a visiting researcher at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (USA), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA) and Central European University (Hungary). Her research interests include sociology of consumption and everyday life, fashion studies, socialist and postsocialist cultures, social-network analysis, qualitative methods of social research and innovative methods of teaching. She is the author of Fashion and the Consumer Revolution in Contemporary Russia (London, New York: Routledge, 2015) and Soviet Underwear: Between Ideology and Everyday Life (Moscow: New Literary Observer, 2008). 

Short description of ongoing research:
At the Aleksanteri Institute Olga Gurova will be working on her on-going project on creative entrepreneurship in contemporary Russia. It is well-known fact that entrepreneurship can provide a significant input in economic growth of the nations, especially in times of austerity. In Russia, however, entrepreneurship has been facing difficulties for long time. Currently, entrepreneurs struggle from weak institutional environment, selective and arbitrary manner of using regulations and from general prioritizing of interests of large-scale business by the state. Nevertheless, recently a noticeable change has occurred in entrepreneurship in cultural sphere and, in particular, in fashion design. During past few years a new generation of fashion designers has emerged. These young designers approach fashion as business, organize small-scale enterprises and make input into both culture and economy. How this paradox of growth of creative entrepreneurship in the context of Russia, rather difficult environment for entrepreneurs, can be explained?

This research is aimed at exploring how creative entrepreneurship in Russia evolves from the point of view of state policy, market and agency. During the fellowship period, Gurova will be working on two papers within the framework of this project: first one is on explicit and implicit policies regulating the activities of creative entrepreneurs in Russia and second paper is on community activities and networks of fashion designers in Russia. 

Email: gurova[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Katja Lehtisaari, Saara Ratilainen

Musto, Marcello

Marx on Russia: New Insights After the MEGA2

Time of visit: 1 March–30 April 2018

Marcello Musto (1976) is Associate Professor of Sociological Theory at York University (Toronto). The central purposes of his work have been: 1) to reconstruct the stages of Marx’s critique of capitalism in light of the most recent textual acquisitions of MEGA²; 2) to provide a new critical comparison between Marx and 19th and 20th century’s Marxisms; 3) to highlight the contemporary relevance of Marx for current issues. 

His books, and articles have been published worldwide in more than twenty languages. Among his edited and co-authored volumes in English, reprinted in several editions, there are: Karl Marx’s ‘Grundrisse’ (Routledge, 2008); Marx for Today (Routledge, 2012); Workers Unite! (Bloomsbury, 2014) and The International after 150 Years (Routledge, 2015). He has been working on Marx and Russia in his recent L'ultimo Marx [The Late Marx] (Donzelli, 2016).Among his forthcoming books there are the monograph: Another Marx: An Essay in Intellectual Biography (Bloomsbury, 2018); and the edited volumes The Marx Revival (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and (with B. Amini) The Routledge Handbook of Marx's 'Capital': A Global History of Translation, Dissemination and Reception (Routledge, 2018). 

Short description of ongoing research:
After 1872 Marx read dozens of brand new books about the nature of the Obshchina, and the development of the industrial and agricultural capitalism in Russia. The proposed research will address questions such as: how has the study of Russian economy and society influenced or changed the overall interpretation of capitalism in Marx? What were the most influential Russian political economists and sociologists who contributed to a new development of Marx's ideas? How does the new interpretation of the route of capitalism in Russia challenge orthodox Marxism that, for many decades, was so hegemonic in Soviet Union?

During the last decade of his life, Marx also significantly changed his conception of the political role of Russia. In the 1850s and 1860s, Marx had always considered Russia, due to its despotic regime and slow economic development, to be one of the main obstacles to the emancipation of the working classes. On the contrary, in the second part of the 1870s, after a more rigorous analysis of the country, influenced particularly by the work of Nikolay Chernyshevsky, Marx looked at Russia in a new, different way. He believed that there were conditions more favorable for a social revolution in Russia than in England, despite the fact that capitalism existed only in the latter. The agitations of the Narodniks, a movement with which he sympathized, only served to cement this new conviction.  Marx realized that the possible eruption of revolutionary events and the potential revolutionary subjectivities had to be understood more flexibly. 

Email: marcello.musto[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Vesa OittinenMarkku Kivinen

Noble, Ben

Contemporary Russian Law-making: Patterns, Actors, and Interests in Criminal Law Policy

Time of Visit: 25 March–21 April 2018)

Ben Noble is a Lecturer in Russian Politics at University College London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Previously, he was Herbert Nicholas Junior Research Fellow at New College, University of Oxford, and Senior Researcher in the Laboratory for Regional Political Studies at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Moscow. He received his DPhil (PhD) from the University of Oxford in 2016 for a thesis analysing executive law-making in the Russian State Duma; this research was awarded the 2017 Sir Walter Bagehot Prize by the Political Studies Association for the best dissertation in the field of Government and Public Administration. Ben’s research centres around the law-making process of legislatures in non-democratic regimes.  

Short description of ongoing research:
Ben’s ongoing research aims to analyse law-making patterns and practices in the Russian State Duma. This forms part of a broader interest in legislatures in non-democratic regimes, specifically how executive actors with divergent policy preferences use legislative institutions to resolve conflicts in decision-making. 
During his tenure of a Visiting Fellowship at the Institute, Ben will work on a project (in collaboration with Professor Peter Solomon, University of Toronto) on the political dimension of criminal law changes in post-Soviet Russia. Since the introduction of a new, post-Soviet Criminal Code in 1997, Russian criminal law policy has developed in a haphazard fashion, with ostensible waves of liberalisation swiftly followed by repressive turns, and changes to the status quo sponsored by a plethora of actors and interests. Put differently, criminal law has not developed in line with a coherent, centrally-directed policy programme. Although these broad features have been noted by Russian and foreign commentators alike, there has been little academic analysis of the development of criminal law as a political phenomenon. This topic has particular appeal as a way to explore changes in societal inequalities in Russia over time, including with regard to class and social structure. As such, this project ties into the Institute’s “Welfare Society” and “Democracy” (public administration) research themes. This research will be of interest to scholars of Russian politics and law, as well as scholars interested in comparative developments in criminal law.
During his tenure of the fellowship, Ben will also solicit feedback on his book manuscript, with the working title Reviewing ‘Rubber Stamps’: Executive Factionalism and Policy-making in the Russian Federal Assembly

Email: benjamin.noble[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Vladimir Gel’man, Anna-Liisa Heusala

Oates-Indruchová, Libora

Scholarly Publishing and Censorship in Late State Socialism:  Snakes and Ladders

Time of visit 25 January–24 February 2018

Libora Oates-Indruchová obtained her PhD from the University of Lancaster and a habilitationfrom the University of Szeged in Hungary. She is Professor of Sociology of Gender in the Department of Sociology at the University of Graz. Her research interests include cultural representations of gender, gender and social change, censorship and narrative research. Her articles have appeared, among others, in SignsSlavic ReviewMen & Masculinities and Europe-Asia Studies. She has edited two anthologies of original Czech translations of feminist theory (1998 and 2007) and acted as a guest editor for Journal of Contemporary HistoryEast European Politics and Societies, Nationalities PapersEast Central Europe, and Österreichishes Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft. She co-edited the Routledge volume The Politics of Gender Culture under State Socialism: An Expropriated Voice (2014, ppbk. 2015), which won the BASEES Women’s Forum Book Prize in 2016. She is currently working on a book on scholarly publishing during late state socialism.

Short description of ongoing research:
This book project draws on previous research on censorship in the Eastern bloc, but advances the discussion and the theory of state-socialist censorship by 1) re-focusing the inquiry from literature to the social sciences and humanities; 2) attempting a more complex treatment of writing and publishing under the conditions of censorship, by bringing together multiple actors and levels at which censorship was deployed; 3) striving for a nuanced account of repression, resistance, negotiation and complicity. It looks at all stages of the writing process from the inception of an idea to its post-publication reception, and at the institutional and policy context surrounding this process. What strategies did the authors, and also the institutions in which they worked and for which they wrote, use in the process of scholarly text production? It considers, in turn, a variety of actors participating in the process, while placing the greatest focus on the self-perceptions of the authors themselves, in order to examine the relationship of the author-scholar to their text and the reader. How do the authors perceive now how intellectual communication between authors and readers worked then? The agency and negotiations of the creative actors, rather than their instrumentalisation by the censoring repressions of state institutions, stand at the centre of this inquiry. 
Czechoslovakia and Hungary are the countries of investigation, but the project takes a broader perspective that includes the former Soviet Union and most other countries of East Central and Eastern Europe. Oral history interviews constitute the backbone of the project, complemented by contemporary science-policy documents and the archive of the Editorial Board of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. 
The goals in the course of the fellowship are 1) to develop a book publishing proposal; and 2) to finalise the manuscript for publication following feedback from the Aleksanteri Institute scholars who attend the presentation of the project results and/or with whom I will discuss my work in the first weeks of the fellowship.

Email: libora[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Katja Lehtisaari, Saara Ratilainen

Pallot, Judith

Difference, Diversity and Reform in the Russian Penal System

Time of visit: 1 February–10 March 2018 and 1–14 June 2018)

I have been engaged in Russian (formerly Soviet) and East European Studies for the whole of my academic career. My doctoral thesis examined peasant responses to the Stolypin Land Reform and in the 1970s I was drawn into the then developing field of ‘peasant studies’ in which specialists on the Russian peasantry were prominent. I retained this interest in rural society after the Soviet Union’s collapse, when, for the first time, I was able to conduct field work in Russian peripheries. I maintain my interest in the Russian rural economy but in the past decade my principal research focus has been on the Russian penal sociology and geography. I took up a post in the University of Oxford in 1979 where I have taught courses in the Geography and Area Studies departments. I am currently the President of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies.

Short description of ongoing research:
I plan to use the opportunities the Aleksanteri Institute’s fellowship presents to further my research into Russian penality. In the past decade I have been the recipient of two large research grants that have allowed me to develop collaborations with colleagues in the Russian Federation which have resulted in four books (English and Russian-language) focusing on women’s experiences of the Russian penal system - as prisoners and as ‘prisoners’ relatives’. The findings of the research projects were primarily based on interviews, questionnaire surveys and internet chat rooms. I intend to use the fellowship to do the preparatory work needed to expand my research on difference and diversity in the Russian Prison System. During the research visit, I plan to make a detailed analysis of available literature on Muslim prisoners and exiles in the Soviet Union and Imperial Russia. This would include a re-reading of prison memoires and testimonies for what they can tell us about the experiences of national minority Muslim populations of the USSR and their relationships with the dominant Slavic population. This will give me the necessary historical context to turn the results from a pilot study (which exist at present just as field report) I recently undertook with Russian colleagues at the Higher School of Economics into a more theoretically- and empirically-informed discussion of Muslim minorities in the Russian prison system. There are useful internet sources available covering current policies and practices towards minority prisoners, that I would use in addition to library-based study. I also plan to bring myself up-to-date on the debates surrounding prison reform in the Russian Federation, since the abandonment of the central proposals in the “Concept for the development of the Prison System to the year 2020” published during Medvedev’s presidency. I am interested in current thinking about collectivist approaches to penal management and self-organisation and on changes in the geography of the penal estate. It is my intention to write a short monograph or extended article on prison reform in the Russian Federation to fill a gap in the English-language literature on the criminal-justice system published since 1991.    

Email: judith.pallot[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Kaarina Aitamurto, Rustam Urinboyev  

Prontera, Andrea

Forms of State and the Great Reconfiguration in East–West Energy Relations: Italy, Russia and the New Politics of Consumer–Producer Cooperation in the EU and Beyond

Time of visit: 10 May–10 July 2018

Andrea Prontera is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Department of Political Science, Communication and International Relations of the University of Macerata (Italy), where he teaches courses on International Relations and European Union Institutions and Policies. He holds a degree in Social Science and Economics from the Bocconi University (Milan) and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Florence. He has held visiting positions at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP), University of Dundee, and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES), University of Oxford. His main research interests lie in the areas of international political economy, comparative public policy, energy security and energy policy. His articles have appeared in such journal as Comparative European PoliticsMediterranean PoliticsJournal of Public PolicyJournal of Comparative Policy Analysis, European Security and Journal of International Relations and Development. His latest book published in 2017 is The New Politics of Energy Security in the European Union and Beyond. States, Markets, Institutions (Routledge).

Short description of ongoing research:
Dr. Prontera’s research plan at the Aleksanteri Institute is entitled ‘Forms of State and the Great Reconfiguration in East–West Energy Relations: Italy, Russia and the New Politics of Consumer–Producer Cooperation in the EU and Beyond’. As the title suggests, Dr. Prontera will study the transformations that have occurred in Italian–Russian energy relations, with a special focus on the natural gas sector and the dynamics of the last two decades. This piece of research is a part of a larger research project Dr. Prontera is working on, which seeks to examine the structural transformations in the energy relations between EU member states and their major gas suppliers. This research project stems from his previous work on the politics of energy security in the EU, which is conflated in his latest book: The New Politics of Energy Security in the European Union and Beyond. States, Markets, Institutions (2017, Routledge). In this book, Dr. Prontera has developed a conceptual framework based on an International Political Economy approach and the notion of ‘forms of state’, which he has applied to map the transformations in the states–market nexus in EU internal and external energy governance. Building on these findings, Dr. Prontera will extend his theoretical and conceptual framework in order to analyse the current patterns of Italian–Russian energy relations as the result of the parallel evolution in the forms of state in both countries. 

Email: andrea.prontera[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Daria GritsenkoVeli-Pekka Tynkkynen

Smirnova, Maria

Politics of Memory Laws in Contemporary Russia

Time of visit: 10 January–10 February 2018

Dr. Maria Smirnova (PhD, Moscow; LLM, Exeter) is a Research Associate at the University of Manchester where she investigates the impact of international human rights law on the transformation of the Russian judicial system. Furthermore, as a member of the European Association of Education Law and Policy (Antwerp) and the Federal Centre for Educational Legislation (Moscow) she also focuses on international standards of the right to education and their implementation in domestic legal systems. Her publications in this area cover such topics as linguistic diversity in education, fighting poverty through education, corruption in education, religious rights and the right to education and in more general terms the justiciability of the right to education.

Short description of ongoing research:
As an Aleksanteri Visiting Fellow, Dr. Smirnova will work on a cutting-edge issue – the politics of memory laws in contemporary Russia. This research reflects the multidisciplinary agenda of the Institute, particularly, in the field of Democracy and the construction of Europeanness and the political use of history. 
The main objective of this research is to study the increasing politicization of memory laws in contemporary Russia. Today’s Russia is a perfect example of a state enforcing ‘memory laws’ with a political agenda in mind. As a researcher and a legal practitioner in Russia, Dr. Smirnova has witnessed first-hand those methods that the Russian legal system employs to promote or inhibit particular understandings of the past. In the recent few years not only the cult of Joseph Stalin has re-emerged as a justification of certain authoritarian policies of the state, but also the public opinion about the Soviet Union’s achievements in the Second World War has been shaped by the landmark court rulings and demonstrative legal sanctions against private media. 
For the purposes of preparing a research-based paper for publication as an Aleksanteri Visiting Fellow Dr. Smirnova will, first, establish the body of Russian law that can be identified as ‘memory laws’. She will then outline the current political context and consider the strategic use of memory laws in Russia in the three following contexts:

  • How do memory laws fit in the asymmetrical accountability structures in Russia? 
  • How democratic are memory laws and how do they relate to the idea of citizenship and participatory rights?
  • How do they affect de facto implementation of human rights in Russia?

Being a very influential global leader, Russia is often assessed in binary terms of the usual democracy-authoritarianism spectre. However, a more nuanced approach is needed, because some of the recent developments clearly have a bigger impact than this spectre can possibly offer.

Email: smirnova_mv[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Anna-Liisa Heusala, Markku Kangaspuro 

Strukov, Vlad

Contemporary Russian Media and Culture

Time of visit: 1–30 June 2018

Vlad Strukov is an Associate Professor in Film and Digital Culture (University of Leeds), specialising in world cinemas, visual culture, digital media, intermediality and cultural theory. He explores theories of empire and nationhood, global journalism and grassroots media, consumption and celebrity by considering the Russia Federation and the Russian-speaking world as his case study. He is the founding and principal editor of the journal ‘Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media’ ( He is the author of ‘Contemporary Russian Cinema: Symbols of a New Era’ (Edinburgh UP, 2016), and editor of ‘New Media in New Europe-Asia’ (2014) and ‘From Central to Digital: Television in Russia’ (2014) and many other publications on media and digital cultures.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Marielle Wijermars, Sigrid Kaasik-Krogerus

Tchalakov, Ivan

Neoliberal Roots of Post-Communist Oligarchic Societies

Time of visit: 23 April–23 May 2018

Ivan Tchalakov, PhD, is Professor of Sociology at University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria and a Senior Research Fellow at Center for Policy Analyses & Study of Technology, Tomsk State University, Russia and at the Institute for the Study of Societies & Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria. He is also an Editor-in-Chief of an International Journal of Actor-Network Theory and Technological Innovation. 
His current research interests and projects include: 1) Science & technology policy and innovations in Eastern Europe during the communist and post-communist periods; Neo-Schumpeterian approach towards innovation and technology policy under communism: Technology policy under condition of structural change and privatization; Policy lacunas towards innovative entrepreneurship and creative industries; university-industry technology transfer, academic entrepreneurships & spin-offs; history and policy of energy system development in Bulgaria after WW II. 2) New Space Entrepreneurship - policy and techno-economic networks (TEN) approach 3) Ethnographic and historical studies of development of holography and optoelectronics. 

Short description of ongoing research:
The proposed project aims at testing a research hypothesis about the symbiosis (Harman 2016) between neoliberal economic ideology and former communist nomenclature in the introduction and sweeping victory of the ‘oligarchic’ version of capitalism in these countries. Departing from the thesis on the importance of horizontal divisions inside the communist nomenclature (Tchalakov 2011, Nikula and Tchalakov 2013), the project empirically differentiates the ways in which different factions of communist nomenclature (especially the ‘political’ and ‘economic’ ones) have perceived and adopted neo-liberal ideas, and how this influenced the dismantling of  the communist ‘sacred’, and the pace and the direction of reforms in the late socialist and early transition period that resulted at imposing a new ‘sacred’ neo-liberal version of transition (Kivinen and Nikula 2006). 

More specifically, the project will study how and through what ‘channels’ and media the  neo-conservative think-tanks interacted with the centres of power in these countries and especially with the ‘reformers’ inside the communist elite? How have these deliberated influences been ‘filtered’ by the predispositions and life-world evidences of the different factions (or wings) of communist nomenclature and which faction saw in it the best way to preserve its interests and strategic positions in society? To what extent have the practices of former communist state securities in sending young officers to the London School of Economics and other elite economic schools in Western universities – where the neo-liberal paradigms have already been largely imposed in the curricula – influenced events in later socialism and early transition? Was it a mere coincidence that the entire senior management of the most advanced sectors of Soviet industry – such as aerospace – actively supported the failed attempt to overthrow the Soviet leadership in 1991? Who was eventually ‘pro-capitalist’/pro-neo-liberal – political nomenclature or the industrial managers that had to care for workers’ collectives and employees, to advance technology and compete with their Western counterparts?

The methodology employed in this research is based on the theoretical tradition of the (Neo) Schumpeterian theory of innovations integrated with the path-dependencies approachactor-network theory (especially Michel Callon’s notion of socio-technical networks) and elements of object-oriented ontology (Graham Harman). 

While at the Aleksanteri Institute, I plan to discuss the theoretical framework of the analysis with colleagues, and complete the analysis of the relevant empirical data, collected in the period prior to April 2018, on economic and political transformation in former communist societies in South-Eastern Europe and Russia.

Email: tchalakov[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Jouko Nikula, Brendan Humphreys