Visiting Fellows 2019-2020

In the academic year 2019–2020, fifteen scholars were invited to the Aleksanteri Visiting Fellows Programme.
Bekus, Nelly

Illiberal Agency of Cityscape

Time of visit: TBC

Dr. Nelly Bekus is an Associate Research Fellow and Associate Lecturer at the University of Exeter. Her work focuses on post-communist nation and state-building, memory, transitional justice, cityscape and post-socialist identity, heritage and socialism, technopolitics, and postcolonial modernity. After defending her PhD at the Graduate School for Social Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences, she worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Warsaw (2008-2012) and was a visiting scholar at the Davis Center of Russian and Eurasian Studies (Harvard University) as well as a Research Fellow at the Remarque Institute (New York University), and has worked at the University of Exeter since 2014. Her publications include the monograph Struggle over Identity: The Official and the Alternative “Belarusianness” (CEU Press, 2010), as well as articles published in leading journals, including the British Journal of Sociology, Europe-Asia Studies, Nationalities Papers, and others.

Current research project

Dr. Bekus’ most recent project on the alternative trajectories of globalisation uses two post-Soviet states, Belarus and Kazakhstan, to examine the connection between globalisation and post-communist transformation. This research focuses on two post-Soviet capital cities as distinct showcases of the urban post-socialist assemblage that contest and often overturn the conventional ideas of urban transformation after the fall of state socialism. Located in different regions of post-Soviet space – in the East-European borderland and Eurasian Heartland – the two capitals provide illuminating material for exploration of how various factors affect the divergence from the dominant post-socialist paradigm.

During her stay at Aleksanteri Institute, she will work on the book chapter "Illiberal Agency of Cityscape”. The chapter explores the authoritarian nature of post-Soviet cities by placing them at the crossroads of the semi-authoritarian nationalist discourse typical of Eastern and Central Europe and the developing pragmatic neoliberal authoritarianism of the twenty-first century. Astana and Minsk emerge in this context both as a driving force for implementing ideas of effective governance and efficient state capitalism typical for East Asian neoliberal authoritarianism and as a material spectacle employed to praise nationalising policy and justify strong centralised power, similar to semi-authoritarian states like Poland and Hungary. While the majority of studies of authoritarianism focus on power systems at the national and elite levels, this project looks at how the authoritarian system operates on the level of city governance and what communication strategies the centralised system employs to interact with citizens. It depicts various forms of civic engagement and participation in the illiberal setting that provide valuable sources for understanding the changing nature of authoritarianism in the twenty-first century.

Email:  bekusn[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Marina Khmelnitskaya, Katalin Miklóssy

Bruisch, Katja

Energy from the Bogs: Peat and Russia's Transition to the Fossil Fuel Age

Time of visit: TBC

Katja Bruisch is the Ussher Assistant Professor in Environmental History at Trinity College Dublin since September 2016. She holds a PhD in Eastern European History and an MA in Eastern European History and Economics from the University of Goettingen. From 2010 to 2016, she was a Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute Moscow. Her research focuses on environmental, social and economic transformations in rural Russia since the mid- 19th century. Her publications include the book Als das Dorf noch Zukunft war: Agrarismus und Expertise zwischen Zarenreich und Sowjetunion (Bohlau Cologne, 2014), which deals with the relationship between science, politics and the public sphere and the role played by experts in dealing with the “agrarian question” in the late Tsarist and early Soviet periods.

Current research project

In her current project, Professor Bruisch explores ways to integrate an environmental perspective into the history of the modern Russian economy and she is working on an integrated history of energy, the economy, and the environment, tracing the appropriation of peatlands in central Russia for the production of fuel from the late 19th century until the present. Through a case study on the transformation of peatlands into hinterlands of the industrializing metropolis of Moscow, this project demonstrates the quite diverse local manifestations of Russia’s move to a fossil fuel-based regime, and analyzes its complex social and environmental legacies.

At the Aleksanteri Institute, Professor Bruisch will be focusing on two chapters of her current book project, tracing the social, cultural, and economic dynamics through which peatlands came to be imagined and exploited as natural resources, once contemporaries experienced the constraints of the timber-based energy regime. At the same time, these chapters seek to assess the significance of political turning points, most importantly the First World War and the extended revolutionary period, on the policies and practices of resource use in central Russia.

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Brendan Humphreys, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen

Cassidy, Kathryn

The Geopolitics of Belonging in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution

Time of visit: August-September 2019

Kathryn Cassidy is an Associate Professor of Human Geography at Northumbria University. She joined Northumbria in 2013 after three years as a lecturer in the School of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London. She completed her PhD in the Centre for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Birmingham in 2011, having previously studied at the University of Nottingham and University College, London. Between 2013 and 2016, she worked on the EUBorderscapes project, work package nine: ‘Borders, Intersectionality and the Everyday’ with Nira Yuval-Davis and Georgie Wemyss. She has recently been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for the project ‘Dis/b/ordering: disrupting everyday welfare bordering in the UK’, for which she will be on research leave from October 2019 to August 2021. Her publications include the book Bordering (Polity Press, 2019), as well as special issues of Political Geography (2018) and Ethnic and Racial Studies (2017).

Current research project

At the Aleksanteri Institute, Dr. Cassidy will work on her current book project, The Alter-Geopolitics of Belonging in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution. The book brings together existing ethnographic research materials from western Ukraine (L’viv, Chernivtsi, Chernivets’ka oblast and amongst Ukrainian-speaking communities in Suceava and Maramures counties in Romania), which were collected in 2007-2009, 2010 and then on shorter visits to L’viv and Chernivtsi annually from 2015 to 2017 – with analysis of press materials and policy and legislative documents from the period since 2004, to explore the contested geopolitics of belonging in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution. In doing so, it brings together work which Dr. Cassidy began during her PhD with conceptual and theoretical contributions developed during the EUBorderscapes project (with Nira Yuval-Davis and Georgie Wemyss).

Since 1991, Ukraine has been the site of different geopolitical projects of belonging, which have been contested both in popular and political discourse, as well as everyday life. Analysis of these projects has highlighted multiple layers of belonging around language, ethnicity, history and other boundaries within Ukraine, as well as discord over the geopolitical positioning of the country. Dr. Cassidy adopts a situated intersectional approach (after Yuval-Davis, Wemyss and Cassidy, 2018) to understanding these projects and their contestation; this approach argues for a need to pay attention to the positioning of an individual, their situated gaze, and the ways in which this is being shaped in dialogue with differentially situated social actors, as well as wider political and popular discourses.

The book seeks to answer the following questions:
What sorts of imaginaries have been created in different geopolitical projects of belonging in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution? How have these imaginaries’ differential definitions of autochthon and allochthon shifted over time? In what ways have these projects of belonging been understood and contested in everyday life?

Email:  kathryn.cassidy[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Katri Pynnöniemi, Saara Ratilainen

Dimitrov, Martin

Welfare Dictatorships

Time of visit: August-September 2019

Martin K. Dimitrov is Professor of Political Science at Tulane University. He obtained his PhD from Stanford in 2004 and previously taught at Dartmouth College. He has been a visiting fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki and has held residential fellowships at Harvard, Princeton, Notre Dame, the American Academy in Berlin, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has conducted fieldwork in China, Taiwan, France, the Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, and Cuba. His books include Piracy and the State: The Politics of Intellectual Property Rights in China (Cambridge University Press, 2009); Why Communism Did Not Collapse: Understanding Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Asia and Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2013); and The Politics of Socialist Consumption (Ciela Publishers, 2018). He is currently completing a book entitled Welfare Dictatorships and two edited volumes: China-Cuba: Trajectories of Post-Revolutionary Governance and Popular Authoritarianism: The Quest for Regime Durability.

Current research project

Professor Dimitrov will use his time at the Aleksanteri Institute to work on his book manuscript entitled Welfare Dictatorships. The book offers a novel theory of the sources of authoritarian durability, which emphasizes the importance of mass support for ensuring nondemocratic regime survival. It argues that the most resilient autocracies in the modern world extend their lifespans not by repressing the masses but by guaranteeing universal access to jobs, by providing subsidized housing, by rolling out generous welfare benefits, and by pricing basic services, consumer goods, and staple foods below the cost of production. In these welfare dictatorships there exists an implicit understanding that the masses will reward the regime with compliance as long as their consumption preferences are satisfied. According to the terms of this social contract, citizens would be justified to rebel should the regime renege on its commitments to maintain a high level of basic consumption.

The book argues that although they initially developed in centrally planned economies prior to 1989, welfare dictatorships have had an afterlife well past the end of the Cold War in a range of authoritarian regimes. The theory is developed through an in-depth study of the case of pre-1989 Bulgaria and is tested through a paired comparison of three centrally planned economies (the German Democratic Republic, the Soviet Union, and pre-1989 China) with the cases of post-1989 China, contemporary Russia, and Cuba. The study is based on extensive archival research with Bulgarian, Chinese, Soviet, German, and Cuban documents, as well as interviews conducted in China, Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, and Cuba.

Email:  mdimitro[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Vladimir Gel’man, Marina Khmelnitskaya, Katalin Miklóssy

Gilburd, Eleonory

Weary Sun: Tango in Eastern Europe and Soviet Russia

Time of visit: TBC

Eleonory Gilburd is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago. She specializes in the history of modern Russia and the Soviet Union, with a particular interest in Soviet culture, society, and their international context. She is the author of To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture (Harvard University Press, 2018) and coeditor of The Thaw: Soviet Society and Culture during the 1950s and 1960s (University of Toronto Press, 2013).

Current research project

Professor Gilburd’s project Weary Sun explores the history of tango, its creators and audiences, in the most unlikely time and place: Stalinist Russia. Revisiting the 1930s through the prism of tango will allow her to connect pieces of Soviet history that usually are kept apart: White emigration and Stalinist culture, closed and shifting borders. Soviet tango was made in Riga and Warsaw. Struck by the connections and exchanges between Soviet and émigré cultures, the project focuses on the largely unexamined Russian-speaking communities at the borders of the Soviet Union. Highlighting transmission routes through the former imperial borderlands, Gilburd posits a shared East European audio space — one that includes the European part of the Soviet Union. Russian-speaking inhabitants of the newly independent states formed after the collapse of the Russian empire became émigrés without leaving home. They were joined by anti-Bolshevik officers, poets, and thinkers. Tango provided the soundtrack to their lives. The book recovers a moment of bohemian living beyond ideologies, as well as the first fractures in these communities in 1933–1934, before final choices were forced upon them by the Soviets and Nazis. Tango occupied a central place in the Soviet aural world, yet it fits uncomfortably in the dominant narratives and thus calls for a rethinking of Stalinist culture. This research reconstructs the sounds of Soviet courtyards, communal apartments, southern resorts, movie theaters, and parks of “rest and culture,” where people encountered the tango most frequently. Professor Gilburd seeks to explain tango’s aesthetic and ideological work among other representations of socialist paradise.

Email:  egilburd[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Ira Österberg, Saara Ratilainen

Golubev, Alexey

Soviet Epistemological Propaganda and Russian Information Campaigns of the Digital Age

Time of visit: TBC

Alexey Golubev is an Assistant Professor of Russian history and digital humanities. He completed his Ph.D. in history at the University of British Columbia in 2016 and spent a year as a Banting Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Toronto. As a scholar of Russian history, his focus is on social and cultural history of the twentieth century as well as transnational networks involving the Soviet Union. His publications include The Search for a Socialist El Dorado: Finnish Immigration from the United States and Canada to Soviet Karelia in the 1930s (Michigan State University Press, 2014, with Irina Takala) and co-edited volumes ХХ век: Письма войны (НЛО, 2016, with Serguei Oushakine), The Encyclopedia of the Barents Region (PAX, 2016, with Mats-Olov Olsson, chief editor, et al) and The Barents Region: A Transnational History of Subarctic Northern Europe (PAX, 2015, with Lars Elenius, chief editor, et al).

Current research project

During his research stay at the Aleksanteri Institute, Professor Golubev will examine a historical relationship between the commodification of knowledge in the late USSR and Russian information campaigns of the digital age. The Soviet government created an impressive system for mass communication of scholarly and political knowledge to enlighten the population of the USSR. Established in 1947, by the late 1970s it grew to three million lecturers who communicated advanced knowledge to lay audiences all over the USSR under the auspices of the society Znanie (Knowledge). In a planned economy which had no competition and, consequently no need for commercial advertising, state authorities and intelligentsia engaged in an effort to advertise and promote knowledge as a commodity for mass consumption. The popularization of knowledge as an ideological commodity led to the emergence of new epistemic forms as well as brought about significant social effects, such as the emergence of a new class of performers and new audiences for the state propaganda of knowledge.

Russian information campaigns of the digital age are routinely interpreted as a tool that the Russian state authorities strategically deploy to achieve certain foreign policy goals. While this approach might explain the intentions behind these campaigns, it does not provide an explanation of their effectiveness. The project’s hypothesis is that these campaigns have been informed, among other factors, by the historical experience of the commodification and communication of knowledge during the Soviet era. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a huge infrastructure and a large professional class of people trained in the treatment of information as an ideological commodity remained and shaped the post-Soviet practices of manipulating facts, narratives, and opinions, while the expansion of digital technologies made these skills applicable on the global scale.

Email:  avgolube[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Olga Dovbysh, Daria Gritsenko, Andrey Indukaev

Isabaeva, Eliza

Negotiating Illegality in Kyrgyzstan: A Squatter Settlement in Bishkek and the Reproduction of State Structures

Time of visit: January-February 2020

Eliza Isabaeva is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies of the University of Zurich. She obtained her doctoral degree in 2017 with her dissertation entitled “Negotiating Illegality in Kyrgyzstan: Re-Production of State Structures in a Squatter Settlement in Bishkek”.  Eliza is interested in political anthropology, urban anthropology, multiculturalism and citizenship studies. Throughout her academic career, she has researched various aspects relating to the topic of migration: her MA thesis paper addressed international migration (special focus on migrant remittances), her PhD dissertation discussed internal migration (special focus on an illegal squatter settlement) and her new post-doctoral project aims to investigate forced migration (special focus on the deportee communities in Kyrgyzstan).

Current research project

During the time of the fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, Dr. Isabaeva is planning to work on her first book manuscript. The book is then to be submitted to Routledge in its new series on Central Asia. The manuscript has seven chapters: five ethnographic chapters as well as introduction and conclusion. At the Aleksanteri  Institute, Eliza will mainly revise the introductory and concluding chapters by deeply engaging with theoretical debates and drawing on the enriching discussions with the Institute’s scholars.

Eliza has recently acquired funding from the Swiss National Foundation for her new post-doctoral project, tentatively entitled “Host Society – Kyrgyzstan: Deportees, Memories, and Bi-Directional Migration”. At the center of the project are the forced migrations of Volga Germans, Koreans and Chechens to Kyrgyzstan following Stalin’s orders in the 1930s and 40s, their return to homelands after rehabilitation, and their interaction with the receiving Kyrgyz communities. Particularly, the project will focus on how the host communities made sense of migratory currents: How did Kyrgyz people perceive the sudden presence of newcomers? How did they process the sudden loss of neighbors, colleagues and friends? What memories, connections and emotions have the ephemeral migrations, which they witnessed, left in their lives today? By analyzing the case of Kyrgyzstan, the project aims to provide answers to bigger questions in the study of international migration: Under what conditions do people see immigration as an enrichment or threat to their lives, and under what circumstances does emigration become a loss or relief? 

Email:  eliza.isabaeva[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Anna-Liisa Heusala, Rustam Urinboyev

Kuntsman, Adi

Politics, Geographies and Silences of Digital Harms: Digitisation and Environmental Projects in Russia

Time of visit: TBC

Dr. Adi Kuntsman is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Politics at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Their past work explored Internet cultures in Russia, Eastern Europe and Russian-speaking diasporas; digital emotions, digital memory and digital militarism; as well as Gulag historiography and LGBT identities and communities. Dr. Kuntsman's current work focuses on selfies between political activism and biometric governance; the politics of ‘opting out’ of digital communication; and environmental damages of digital technologies. Dr. Kuntsman is the author of Figurations of Violence and Belonging: Queerness, Mingranthood and Nationalism in Cyberspace and Beyond (Peter Lang 2009), and Digital Militarism: Israeli Occupation in the Social Media Age (co-authored with Rebecca L. Stein, Stanford UP 2014); the editor of Selfie Citizenship and the co-editor of multiple collections and journal special issues.

Current research project

Dr. Kuntsman’s project explores the role of digitisation, dataisation and digital communication technologies in the context of the Russian environment. At the heart of the project lies a troubling question of the highest relevance to both Russia and the global community: how to reconcile the usefulness of digitisation and its rapid and expansive adoption into environmental policies and sustainability projects, with the extensive environmental damages, brought on by the digitisation itself? Such damages (in the form of mining, e-waste and the rapidly growing energy demands of data centres) are paradoxically under-theorised, in both environmental and sustainability studies, and digital media and communication studies. The former field, as Adi Kuntsman suggests elsewhere, is largely informed by “digital solutionism”, privileging techno-optimism and uncritical excessive adoption of digital technologies. The latter field, similarly, is shaped by a systematic myopia towards the materiality of digital communication and its environmental tolls, focusing instead on systems of meanings, communication patterns and forms of knowledge production. Today, as Russian digital studies turn increasingly towards studying political participation, media censorship and Internet governance on the one hand, and Big Data, Digital Humanities and algorithmic politics, on the other, the materiality –and environmental toxicity – of the digital is in a particular danger of being overlooked. To challenge this danger, the project aims to bring together and propose a major intervention into digital Russian studies, on the one hand, and Russian environmental studies, on the other, by focusing on politics and geographies of digital harms, and the silences generated around them. During the visit, Dr. Kuntsman will be working on developing a conceptual and methodological frameworks to link disparate yet connected sites of social, cultural, political and technological processes, where environmental projects and digital technologies meet.

Email:  a.kuntsman[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Olga Dovbysh, Daria Gritsenko, Andrey Indukaev

McCarthy, Lauren

Citizen Oversight and Police Accountability in Authoritarian Regimes: The Russian Case

Time of visit: TBC

Lauren A. McCarthy is an Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  She received her Master’s (2004) and PhD (2011) in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She is a Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Institutions and Development, Higher School of Economics in Moscow and a member of PONARS (Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia). Her research focuses on the relationship between law and society in Russia, police and law enforcement institutions, civilian oversight, and the issue of human trafficking.  Her book, Trafficking Justice: How Russian Police Use New Laws, from Crime to Courtroom (Cornell University Press, 2015) explores how Russian law enforcement agencies have implemented laws on human trafficking, and was based on her dissertation which won the Edward S. Corwin Award (best dissertation in Public Law) from the American Political Science Association.  Her articles have been published in a variety of journals and her research has been supported by the Fulbright Institute for International Education and by a Kennan Institute Fellowship (2013).

Current research project

Dr. McCarthy will use her period as a Visiting Fellow to work on a new book manuscript which focuses on civilian oversight and police accountability in Russia.  In Russia, where the police are deeply distrusted and the space for civil society is rapidly diminishing, there has been a renewed interest in civilian oversight of the police from both the state and the grassroots level. From the state end, police-public councils have been created by the Ministry of the Interior (MVD) in every region and nationally and are empowered to gather and present information, make recommendations, and in some cases, advise on laws and internal regulations for the agency. From the grassroots, civil society organizations have been engaged in oversight of the police in both contentious and non-contentious ways. They have filmed police misbehavior in a variety of situations, gone from station to station to make sure the police and their workplaces are outfitted according to the law, and educated citizens on what their rights are in police interactions.

The book takes a novel approach to considering issues of accountability and oversight.  Instead of solely examining state-sponsored oversight institutions (i.e. civilian review boards), it broadens the scope of who can take part in oversight to the realm of ordinary citizens and organized civil society groups.  In doing so, it contributes both empirically and theoretically to the literature on Russian governance, law and politics and more broadly to the literature on civilian oversight.  Empirically, the book will map the ways that citizens involve themselves in oversight of the security sector in Russia, in particular the police. Dr. McCarthy will also contribute to theory building by proposing a typology for understanding oversight activity in repressive regimes—that it occurs along two dimensions: formal/informal and contentious/non-contentious.  Through interviews with individual activists and a study of their organizations and activities as well as a study of state-sponsored oversight organizations, the aim is to  reveal the broad variety of ways that people become involved in holding the state accountable to its own laws. 

Email:  mccarthy[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Vladimir Gel’man, Anna-Liisa Heusala, Marianna Muravyeva

Miller, Alexey

The Romanov Empire and the Russian Nationalism

Time of visit: TBC

Alexey Miller is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Studies in Cultural Memory and Symbolic Politics at the European University at St. Petersburg. He has given lectures in many universities worldwide including Harvard, Columbia, Berkeley, Stanford, Maryland, West Point, Penn, Munich, Berlin (Humboldt and Free), Cologne, Paris (EHESS), Aix-en-Provence, London (SSEES), Manchester, Edinburgh, Geneva, Basel, Budapest, Warsaw, and Krakow, as well as many universities in Russia and the post-Soviet countries, including Vilnius, Tartu, Kiev, Lviv, Almaty, Bishkek. His main research interests include the history of empires and nationalism, memory politics, and the history of ideas. Among his more than 200 publications are 8 monographs and 20 edited volumes. His most recent books include Nationalizing Empires (CEU Press, 2015) and Nation or a Power of the Myth (EUS, 2016).

Current research project

During his stay in Helsinki in March-April 2020, Professor Miller will be writing a monograph entitled “The Romanov Empire and the Russian Nationalism,” which is under contract with Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie Publishing House. The monograph will provide a narrative of the relationship between the Romanov Empire and Russian nationalism, as well as an analysis of the process of Russian nation-building in imperial context. The book is addressed to general public and aims to provide readers with a scholarly account of the topic while remaining accessible for lay audiences.

Email:  amiller[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Ira Jänis-Isokangas, Markku Kangaspuro

Owen, Catherine

Participatory Authoritarianism: Transformations in Statehood and Subjectivities in Russia and China

Time of visit: 5 October-6 December 2019

Catherine Owen is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Exeter. She was previously a Lecturer in the Department of History and Civilization at Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, China. She is currently working on a monograph that explores public sector reform and the production of active citizenship in contemporary Russia and China. Owen has held Visiting Fellowships at Fudan University in Shanghai, and the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Her work has been published in a variety of Area Studies, Comparative Politics and International Relations journals, including Slavic Review, Government and Opposition, Review of International Studies and Third World Quarterly.

Current research project

Dr. Owen is currently working on a book project that explores transformations in discourses and practices of citizenship in contemporary Russia and China. The book considers the way in which the two state bureaucracies’ integration into the global financial system is producing new political subjectivities in both countries, and explores the production of these subjectivities through two comparative case studies: participatory budgeting in St. Petersburg and Shanghai, and residents’ housing organisations in Samara and Xi’an. The book’s two main objectives are, firstly, to shed light on emergent forms of citizenship in non-democratic states such as Russia and China and, secondly, to make a wider contribution to the study of authoritarianism by demonstrating that ostensibly liberal discourses and practices, such as civic participation in local governance, are vital for sustaining domestic non-liberal rule in conditions of late capitalism.

During the Fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, she plans to write up a chapter that compares processes of participatory budgeting in Shanghai and St. Petersburg. In the St. Petersburg case, she explores the development and implementation of the Tvoi Budget project (see; in Shanghai, she explores initiatives in Huinan Town and Puxing District. Using qualitative, semi-structured interviews conducted by Owen with citizens involved in participatory budgeting, as well as relevant scholars and policymakers in both cities, the chapter seeks to trace the diffusion and re-articulation of norms of participatory budgeting in both contexts; to conceptualise the models of active citizenship embedded by policy-makers in these mechanisms; and to contextualise and interpret the similarities and differences in both institutional design and practices of participation.

Email:  C.A.M.Owen[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Vladimir Gel’man, Marina Khmelnitskaya, Katalin Miklóssy

Polese, Abel

SHADOW: An exploration of the nature of informal economies and shadow practices in the former USSR region

Time of visit: 27 August-27 October 2019

Abel Polese is a scholar, development worker, trainer and fundraiser working in research and education for both universities and the youth NGO sector. After defending a PhD dissertation in 2009 at Universite libre de Bruxelles on compliance and resistance to Ukrainization policies in Odessa in southern Ukraine, he moved on to the study of informality, expanding his focus to include Turkey and then the Caucasus, Central Asia and Vietnam. To date, he has published 17 books and over 100 peer-reviewed articles and chapters on the multifaceted (economic, political, and social) nature of informality in a variety of settings and situations. He is also a member of the Global Young Academy, with which he is active on critical debates on academic life, from open science to evaluation of scientific excellence. His most recent book The SCOPUS Diaries and the (il)logics of Academic Survival: A Short Guide to Design Your Own Strategy and Survive Bibliometrics, Conferences, and Unreal Expectations in Academia (ibidem Press, 2019) is an unorthodox reflection on academic life and in particular the choices and obstacles young scholars face to start a research career.

Current research project

Dr. Polese is currently leading a team collecting information on shadow economies in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan (H2020/MSCA-SHADOW, see ). By the end of summer 2019, data collection will be completed and preliminary results will be available. During the fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, Dr. Polese process and interpret data to prepare for the publication phase. Taking advantage of the high-level experts working and regularly visiting the institute, the research stay will also be a chance to deliver a research seminar and receive feedback on progress results from the SHADOW project. He will also work to disseminate results and findings in both academic and non-academic environments, utilizing the institute’s leading position as a scientific and policy advice institution in Finland and internationally.

Dr. Polese has also been consolidating a series of workshops on how to think strategically about academic careers and, in particular, strategies to maximize publication and dissemination potential of young researchers. Taking advantage of his most recent book The Scopus Diaries and the (Il)logics of Academic Survival, he will deliver a session providing insights on academic life for scholars from the post-USSR region to build a dissemination strategy in line with what scholars are requested to deliver to an international audience.

Email:  abel.polese[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Anna-Liisa Heusala, Katalin Miklóssy, Rustam Urinboyev

Suny, Ronald Grigor

Forging the Nation: The Making and Faking of Nationalisms

Time of visit: TBC

Ronald Grigor Suny is the William H. Sewell, Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan and Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago.  He was the first holder of the Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern Armenian History at the University of Michigan, where he founded and directed the Armenian Studies Program.  He is the author of The Baku Commune (Princeton University Press, 1972), The Making of the Georgian Nation (Indiana University Press, 1988,1994), Looking Toward Ararat (Indiana University Press, 1993), The Revenge of the Past (Stanford University Press, 1993), The Soviet Experiment (Oxford University Press, 1998, 2011), “They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else”: A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton University Press, 2015), Red Flag Unfurled: History, Historians, and the Russian Revolution (Verso, 2017), and co-author with Valerie Kivelson of Russias Empires (Oxford University Press, 2016).  He has finished a biography of the young Stalin – Stalin: Passage to Revolution – for Princeton University Press and a series of historiographical essays on Stalinism and Soviet history – Red Flag Wounded:  Historians, Stalinism, and the Soviet Experience – for Verso Books.

Current research project

The recent resurgence of nationalism, national isolationism and populism, and the problems facing transnational projects like the European Union have produced new questions that require new research and thinking about the latest turns in the history of the nation-form. Despite the constructivist turn thirty years ago, nations continue to be imagined as primordial and perennial, in which transient emotions and cognitive associations have been reified into national identifications for which people are ready to fight, kill, and die.  Differences and boundaries between ethnic and national communities have been hardened to the point of being mutually exclusive, even hostile to those right next door.

At the Aleksanteri Institute, Professor Suny plans to conduct research and begin the writing of a book, Forging the Nation: The Making and Faking of Nationalisms, which involves several important case studies that illustrate different national trajectories, among them:  the destruction of Ottoman Armenians and the making of the ethnonational republic of Turkey; the breakup of the USSR and the forging of new nations within emergent states, most particularly Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan; and the making of the Finnish nation within the tsarist empire, a nation created by patriotic intellectuals often of ethnic Swedish origin.  In each case, the historical stories will be brought up to date in order to discuss the insights that might be employed to reflect on the American, European, and Asian populist nationalisms that currently appear to be on the rise. Professor Suny will explore how globalizing capitalism, and the uncertainties and instabilities it produces, affects societies that are (or imagine themselves to be) culturally homogeneous. Among the responses in many developed nations have been populist nationalisms (both on the Left and the Right), the rise of anti-liberal movements, the building of walls, and exclusionary politics.

Email:  rgsuny[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Ira Jänis-Isokangas, Markku Kangaspuro, Elina Viljanen

Wheatcroft, Stephen G.

Food Supply Problems in Northern Russia and the Baltic Region, 1600-1991

Time of visit: TBC

Stephen Wheatcroft is Professor of Soviet History at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia and an Associate of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at Melbourne University, where he taught for many years. He is an Economic Historian with an interest in agricultural and demographic history of the USSR, the history of Soviet statistics, planning, repression, and in the comparative history of famines, and he is particularly concerned with integrating a knowledge of economic history into general understanding of Soviet history.   

Current research project

Professor Wheatcroft is currently working on his research integrating economic, political and social history into a monograph on Food Supply Problems in Russia and the USSR from the Times of Troubles to the fall of Communism (roughly from 1600-1991). This work allows him to combine some of his earlier detailed work on agricultural and demographic history of the 1920s and 1930s with his work on specific famines in the pre-revolutionary and post WW2 periods. It will also allow him to consider more carefully famine and food problems in separate regions.

Whilst in Helsinki, Professor Wheatcroft will concentrate on the parts of this story that are particularly relevant to the areas of the Baltics, Finland, and Northern Russia. This includes further study of the Baltic food problems of the 17th to 20th century and their relationship to Russian agriculture and food problems. In particular, he is interested in comparisons of the Finnish Famines of 1601-3, 1866-8, 1891/2 and 1921/22 with those in the USSR, and of the food problems in WW2 and the early post-war years of the World Food Crisis of 1946/7.  Within this work, he also hopes to better understand how Finnish food balances operated and changed over time, and the extent to which Finnish agriculture was affected by weather variability.

Email:  s.wheatcroft[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sari Autio-Sarasmo, Marianna Muravyeva, Katalin Miklóssy, Brendan Humphreys

Yusupova, Marina

Domesticating Global Racisms: Russian Masculinities and the Gendered Construction of Whiteness

Time of visit: August-October 2019

Marina Yusupova is Postdoctoral Research Associate at Newcastle University, currently working on a large project on business elites in the UK. She has a PhD in Russian Studies from the University of Manchester (2017) and has previously been a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Stony Brook University, USA. Dr. Yusupova is a social scientist with a multidisciplinary background and research expertise in three main axes of social power and inequalities – gender, class and race. She has a long-standing research focus on the post-Soviet Russian context. Her most recent study explored how masculinity is defined, experienced and negotiated by three generations of Russian men living in Russia and by Russian immigrants in the UK. She has co-edited a volume Gender and Choice in Post-Soviet Context (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), interdisciplinary anthology Sexualities: Identities, Behaviors, and Society (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2014) and has published a number of articles in peer-reviews journals.

Current research project

Dr. Yusupova will use her time at the Aleksanteri Institute to finalise a journal article entitled Domesticating Global Racisms: Russian Masculinities and the Gendered Construction of Whiteness.  This paper explores how ideas about white supremacy and civilizational progress, spurred by European imperialisms, shape masculinities and gender inequality in contemporary Russia. Based on analysis of in-depth biographical interviews with Russian men living in Russia and with Russian immigrants in the UK, who took part in a larger study about performances of masculinities (2012-2016), this research offers evidence that in the region where race and whiteness have long been and largely continue to be considered as irrelevant categories for the analysis of social life, the global formations of race actively work to defend both gender and class systems of privilege.

The fact that, historically, people living on the territory of contemporary Russian Federation were never divided into ‘white’ and ‘non-white’, sustains the idea that race does not matter. As a result we know very little about how race is produced among the Russian population and how it works to reinforce other systems of inequality. This knowledge is essential not only for broadening the explanatory power of intersectionality theory, but also for imagining or prescribing ‘points of intervention’. By drawing attention to racialized hierarchy-building as a masculinity construction technique among Russian men, the current research, firstly, aims to extend the efforts of intersectional theory to account for overlapping and interdependent systems of inequalities, and, secondly, to extend global critical race theory into one of the most ‘racially’ understudied regions of the world.

Email:  marina.yusupova[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Alexander Kondakov, Marianna Muravyeva