Keynote Speakers

The 23rd annual Aleksanteri Conference has a pleasure of presenting these distinguished guest speakers as keynote and plenary speakers. All keynotes and plenaries will be streamed to the public.
Benjamin Nathans

Benjamin Nathans, Associate Professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, teaches and writes about Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, modern European Jewish history, and the history of human rights. Nathans has published articles on Habermas and the public sphere in eighteenth-century France, Russian-Jewish historiography, Soviet dissident memoirs, and many other topics. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement and an occasional commentator on current Russian affairs.

Nathans' forthcoming book (August 2024), To the Success of Our Hopeless Cause: The Many Lives of the Soviet Dissident Movement, tells the story of dissent in the USSR from Stalin's death to the collapse of communism.  It explores the idea and practice of rights and the rule of law in the setting of “mature socialism.”  Rather than treat Soviet dissidents as avatars of Western liberalism or take their invocation of rights and legal norms as natural, To the Success of Our Hopeless Cause investigates how, as products themselves of the Soviet order, dissidents arrived at a conception of law and human personality so at odds with official norms. Understanding this process - how orthodoxies contain the seeds of their own heresies, and how dissidents promoted the containment of Soviet power from within - promises to illuminate the broader problem of how citizens of authoritarian societies conceive and act on options for political engagement.

Jennifer Gandhi

Jennifer Gandhi is Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Jackson School of Global Affairs at Yale University. Her research interests are in comparative politics and political economy, with a focus on authoritarian regimes and transitions to and from democracy. Professor Gandhi’s work includes an award-winning Cambridge University book, Political Institutions under Dictatorship, as well as articles in leading political science journals, such as the American Journal of Political Science and the Journal of Politics. Prior to joining Yale, Professor Gandhi was Professor and Chair of Political Science at Emory University. She earned her B.A. from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Political Science from New York University.

Diana T. Kudaibergen

Diana T. Kudaibergen is Assistant Professor in Political Sociology and Fellow of Homerton College at the University of Cambridge. She studies intersections of power relations, nationalism and democratic and autocratic contexts. She is the author of The Kazakh Spring: Digital Activism and the Challenge to Dictatorship (Cambridge University Press, 2024), What Does it Mean to Be Kazakhstani? (Hurst, 2024), Toward Nationalizing Regimes (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), Rewriting the Nation in Modern Kazakh Literature (Lexington Series in Contemporary Central Asian Studies, 2017) and many articles on nation-building and regime dynamics in Central Asia, Russia, and the Baltic States. Kudaibergen is actively engaged in Central Asian decolonial debates through her work with political artists and protest art fields. 

Frank Johansson

Frank Johansson (MSSc) has been the employed by Amnesty International in Finland since 1990, first as a media officer and since 1996 as director, before that he worked as a foreign news journalist for media in Finland and Sweden. With Amnesty Johansson has visited 38 countries, and participated actively in the organisations global governance, done international media launches and participated in high-level mission led by the secretary general.

Johansson participates visibly in the public debate on human rights related issues through public lectures and seminars and by opinion pieces in national media. He is regularly interviewed by the media and in regular contact with ministerial level authorities.

In 2013 Johansson published an edited volume of texts on the international humanitarian/human rights systems relation to Western power Hyvän tekeminen ja valta (Benevolence and Power) and in 2017 a monograph on the financing of the international humanitarian /human rights system Hyvän tekemisen markkinat (the Markets of Benevolence).