Excessive optimism was rife at the end of the Cold War, but there is no evidence of the errors claimed by Russia’s current leaders

Juhana Aunesluoma is pleased by researchers’ active participation in public discussion and their efforts to provide a background for topical phenomena.

What are your research topics? 

I study changes in political decision-making. I am interested in the internal dynamics of decision-making, especially the ways in which established patterns of thought and action are replaced by new ones. 

What particularly interests me are situations where a rapid change in circumstances does not lead to a corresponding change in operating models. A tension develops between the new and the old, with different views of the situation as well as the depth and the necessity of change struggling with each other. 

Besides having different views on the future, the relevant operators can also have different notions of the developments that have led to the current situation. I am interested in how varying perceptions of history affect thinking.  

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

At the end of the Cold War, many people thought that the whole world had become safer. At the same time, they were concerned about old conflicts being rekindled, or that the new order could not be consolidated. 

Today, we are debating whether mistakes were made in the 1990s and the early 2000s when the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took in new member states. The current leadership in Russia believes that today’s problems in their relations with the West are the result of mistakes made in the 1990s.  

My research takes a stand on this debate and dispels the uncertainty related to it. The claims made by Russia’s leaders are not accurate as such. Then again, it must be said that the West was also overly optimistic about the depth and ease of the change. The end of the Cold War did not remove the old threats on either side. 

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

The historical research we conduct helps us to understand the major political issues of the present. I am pleased by how naturally researchers in my field participate in public discussion, provide backgrounds and increase the understanding of current phenomena. It speaks to the solid groundwork that studies in history and historical research lay down for understanding our world. 


Juhana Aunesluoma is the professor of political history at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Read about the other newly appointed professors.