The Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki will hold the 18th Annual International Aleksanteri Conference LIBERATION – FREEDOM – DEMOCRACY?

1918–1968–2018, on 24–26 October, 2018. Our aim is to bring together scholars, experts, and advanced graduate students from a variety of disciplines such as history, political science, sociology, geography, law, economics, and media and cultural studies.


In 2018 we have multiple commemorations of historical events that shaped the development of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia, including:

  • 1918 – the end of the Great War, and the disintegration of old Empires drew a new map of Europe and Eurasia, providing radically new possibilities for societal evolution.
  • 1968 – the year which can be remembered not only for the crushing of “socialism with a human face”, but also as the beginning of welfare socialism and the socialist market economy strengthening entrepreneurialism and individualism – and, as such, the beginning of the end of the communist system.

These, and other events which will be marked by commemorations in 2018, bore consequences in the spatial context, on the idea of the nation state, and the perceptions of the most desirable societal system. These events constantly modified the key values of freedom and power-people relations. When we look back to these previous 100 years – we can ask ourselves: Did liberation mean freedom? Did freedom mean democracy? Did democracy bring security, well-being, and equality for the people? And is democracy irreversible?   

Conference themes

Changing Spatial Contexts  

  • Empires and restructuring the post-imperial world  
  • Regionalism, independence, secession
  • East-West: convergences and divergences
  • Territory and environment

Systemic Transformations  

  • Democracy and its rivals 
  • Communism and its rivals 
  • War and conflict 
  • Current developments and new systemic challenges
  • Transnational diffusion of ideas, practices, and political cultures 

Freedom of Expression and Protest  

  • Counter-culture and protest 
  • Human rights, critical thinking, samizdat, dissidence  
  • Media agency 
  • Uses of history
  • Humor and irony as methods of resistance 

Societal values  

  • Societal change 
  • Well-being and social security 
  • Equality/inequality   

Russian Media Lab Thematic Stream

"Media Innovation, Horizontal Networks and Digital Entrepreneurship in Russia and Beyond: Avenues for Strengthening Freedom of Speech and Journalistic Practices?"

The Russian Media Lab project, funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, is organising its concluding conference within the framework of this year’s Aleksanteri Conference. For this thematic stream we invite submissions of panels and individual papers that explore emerging (digital) media practices in relation to the question of freedom of expression and independent journalism. In addition to studies of Russia, we look forward to receiving proposals examining Central and Eastern Europe, as well as comparative studies. See more