Three Kollegium Talks Events with Helsinki Collegium Fellows in November - December 2021

The Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies is hosting three more Kollegium Talks events this year: 'Democratic Politics in Post-Communist Europe' on 29 November 2021 at 5 pm, 'What’s a language error?' on 9 December 2021 at 5 pm and 'How can history inform current gender politics and policy?' on 13 December 2021 at 5 pm.

Kollegium Talks is a discussion series hosted by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS) at Think Corner of the University of Helsinki. In each Kollegium Talks event, Helsinki Collegium fellows or alumni discuss a topic that connects their research interests and opens fresh perspectives to the humanities and social sciences and to the world we live in. 

Join the debate at Think Corner Stage or via live stream (see links below)! The discussions will also be recorded for later viewing and will be posted on the HCAS Youtube channel. 

KOLLEGIUM TALKS: How can history inform current gender politics and policy?  

13 December 2021 at 5 pm, Think Corner Stage 

Live stream at


Most people would agree that understanding the past is important for understanding the present, but how far should we take this? What role should historical research play in shaping contemporary policy and politics? Focusing particularly on the context of gender history, this discussion will elaborate on some of the ways in which historical knowledge could be used to understand contemporary gender politics and to further gender equality today. It will also feature two case studies. First, Louise Settle will explain how historical knowledge about domestic violence and probation could be used to inform current criminal justice policies. Second, Robert Mason will share his analysis of how politicians in the United States and the United Kingdom interpreted, and responded to, the arrival of a ‘gender gap’ in voting during the 1980s and beyond.  


Robert Mason is a core fellow at HCAS and a professor of US history at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) and The Republican Party and American Politics from Hoover to Reagan (Cambridge University Press, 2012). His current project explores the history of the voting ‘gender gap’ in the United States, considered in comparative perspective. 

Louise Settle is a core fellow at HCAS who specialises in the history of gender, crime, emotions and sexuality. She is the author of Sex for Sale in Scotland: Prostitution in Edinburgh and Glasgow, 1900-1939 (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and Probation and the Policing of the Private Sphere in Britain, 1907-1962 (Bloomsbury, forthcoming January 2022). Her current research explores the role that marriage therapy and popular psychology has played in shaping how ‘emotional work’ is negotiated and experienced within romantic relationships.  



KOLLEGIUM TALKS: What’s a language error?   

9 December 2021 at 5 pm, Live stream from Think Corner Stage (online only):

Live stream at


Why are we so afraid of making mistakes? Students in language classes, speakers of non-standard varieties, professionals working abroad – we all share the anxiety of dropping the ball. But where does this anxiety come from? Why do we perceive certain linguistic features as errors in the first place? Is there any inherent faultiness in such features, or is a language error arbitrary? And if it is arbitrary, are errors less real? Join us for a discussion of the social life of variation in language and its uneasy relationship with our normative ideas. 


Maria Khachaturyan is a core fellow at HCAS. Her current research explores the understudied West African languages Mano and Kpelle in their social context, with a particular focus on bilingualism and bilingual language socialization.

Maria Kuteeva is an Erik Allardt Fellow at HCAS and a professor of English linguistics at Stockholm University. Her recent publications include Language perceptions and practices in multilingual universities (2020, Palgrave Macmillan, with K. Kaufhold and N. Hynninen) and Tension-filled English at the multilingual university: A Bakhtinian perspective (under contract with Multilingual Matters). Over the last decade, her research has engaged with scholarly debates surrounding ontologies and roles of English outside anglophone academic contexts.

Svetlana Vetchinnikova is a core fellow at HCAS working on chunking at different levels of language organization, individual variation and modelling language as a complex system. She is author of Phraseology and the Advanced Language Learner (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and co-editor of Changing English (De Gruyter, 2017) and Language Change: The impact of English as a lingua franca (Cambridge University Press, 2020).  

KOLLEGIUM TALKS: Democratic Politics in Post-Communist Europe 

29 November 2021 at 5 pm, Think Corner Stage 

Live stream at


Thirty years ago, many citizens in Central, East and Southeast Europe trusted that their countries were at the beginning of a transition that would deliver greater freedom, prosperity and security.  Intellectuals, reformers and activists advanced and modeled ideals of debate, deliberation, and shared purpose that would broaden people’s horizons of the possible. 

Today, the record of accomplishments is mixed, and disillusion with democracy is widespread. Polarization, conspiratorial thinking and the politics of grievance have eroded confidence, closing communities off from one another. 

In this discussion, two scholars who both began their research in the 1990s in Eastern Europe explore what happened to expectations about “transition;” trace the rise of populist mobilization; and discuss what broader civic lessons can be learned from the hopes, dreams and practices of the region’s democratic pioneers and their future trajectories. 


Keith Brown is Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (2021–2022) and professor of politics and global studies at Arizona State University, where he also serves as director of the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies. His research and teaching focus on the Western Balkans in global context, exploring in particular alternatives to violence, and the power of citizen activism.

Emilia Palonen is Senior Researcher in Political Science and Programme Director at the Helsinki Institute for Social Science and Humanities, and she leads the Helsinki Hub on Emotions, Populism and Polarisation that includes projects also covering Central Eastern Europe. She has a background as an expert in Hungarian politics and polarisation, but also questions of democracy, local citizen activism and mobilisation.