Welcome to the seminar on February 8 with Dr. Maria Brock, Postdoc at Malmö University: Protecting children in the name of ‘traditional values’ in Russia and Germany.
When: February 8, 3.15-5.00 pm (CET)
Where: Sign up here for zoom link
The recent rise of illiberal, conservative and right-wing populist movements poses an acute threat to democracy and equality in Europe. One pervasive but underresearched strand of these movements advocates ‘traditional family values’, in particular conservative sexual and gender politics, in the name of protecting children. With my project, l plan to fill this research gap through interdisciplinary research examining the discursive construction of the child as the ultimate site of vulnerability and risk, and hence in need of protection and policy intervention. The research is characterised by a significant comparative dimension, analysing discourses by conservative, ‘pro-traditional family values’ actors, from politicians to activists, in Germany and Russia. In my presentation for RUCARR, I will focus on Russian actors’ ‘traditional values’ discourse and -policies as they pertain to children.
With a Phd in Psychosocial Studies from Birkbeck (University of London), and a background in Russian Studies, much of my research is preoccupied with the discursive and psychosocial dynamics of transitional and post-transitional societies, often focusing on Russia. Another, connected strand of my work examines misogynist, anti-feminist and anti-LGBTQ violence. Previous and upcoming publications have for example looked at the material and psychic remains of socialism, Camp and post-Soviet pop, Pussy Riot and negative societal mobilisation, the vicissitudes of queer (in)visibility in Russia, and networked misogyny and right-wing extremism (with our own Tina Askanius).
The role of Azerbaijan in the Non-Aligned Movement through the lens of international law and security
Welcome to the Spring semester’s first seminar with Kamal Makili-Aliyev, LL.D. Senior Lecturer at the Dept. of Global Political Studies, Malmö University: The role of Azerbaijan in the non-aligned movement through the lens of international law and security.
When: February 1, 3.15-17.00
Zoom: sign-up here for zoom link
This research paper is an attempt to explain the role of Azerbaijan in the Non-Aligned Movement through a rarely used perspective or lens of international law and international security. In a scholarly discourse on Azerbaijan’s ascension to the full membership in the Non-Aligned Movement, there are two distinct camps that argue either from the perspective of the non-relevance of the Non-Aligned Movement in the contemporary international community and subsequent low significance of Azerbaijan’s move or from the perspective of the theory of international relations and present it as a foreign policy adjustment or a continued strategy. This study departs from the continued (albeit adjusted) relevance of the Non-Aligned Movement as a subject of international law and seeks to complement the existing theories proposed by the international relations scholars with an alternative view based on Azerbaijan’s paradigmatic perceptions of international law and international security. By taking an alternative viewpoint, this paper utilizes a multidisciplinary angle to tackle so far only narrowly researched topic.
February 15: Georgia’s 30 years from regaining the independence: accomplishments, challenges and opportunities
RUCARR seminar with Victor Kipiani, chairman of the think tank Geocase: Georgia’s 30 years from regaining the independence: accomplishments, challenges and opportunities. Welcome!
When: February 15, 3.15-5.00 (CET)
Where: Sign up here for zoom link
Victor Kipiani is the Chair of a Georgian think tank organization Geocase. His interests include international relations, security, governance, implications of the global order for Georgia and for its neighborhood and macro economy. Victor Kipiani is the author of various articles and surveys on Georgian legal system and related matters in domestic and foreign periodicals. He is also a frequent commentator on recent political developments in Georgia as well as on various global geopolitical trends and events. Victor Kipiani is a member of Georgian Bar Association, a member of International Advisory Board for the Association of International Politics and Security Studies, a board member of the Independent Directors’ Association, and an advisory council member at the Service for Accounting, Reporting and Auditing Supervision Service.
Seminar with Dr. Astrid Hedin, Associate Professor, Visiting scholar at Harvard Univ. Davis Center: Communist state administrative structures. Welcome!
When? December 14, 4.15-5.30 pm
Where: Zoom link
Despite the common progeny of communist regimes across the world, research has often treated each communist regime as sui generis, as a class by itself. At the same time, area studies tend to assume that readers are already familiar with the basic structures and core administrative traits of communist regimes.
This article seeks to acquaint a broader set of researchers with communist state administration as a “family” or type (cf. Wollman, 2021). In focus are the core political-institutional features and administrative traditions of the communist state; the historical doctrines, terminology, and actual practices under communism. Administrative structures are described from a broad institutionalist perspective, guided by classic questions concerning principles of hierarchy, autonomy, and complexity, as well as historical praxis and norms, emergent standard operating procedures, and informal rules and relations.
Popular understanding often envisages communist-type administration as hierarchical commands from the top, which can be quietly resisted and circumvented by a purportedly nonpolitical bureaucracy and everyday life. In contrast, empirical studies of both historical communist regimes and 21st-century China draw up a picture of political control more as a tangled and overlapping grid, trellis, espalier, or net.
A concluding section comments on the historical difficulties of doing research on communist administration and suggests some prospects for the field’s change and development
Dr Rico Isaacs, Associate Professor in Politics, University of Lincoln:
Whose Culture War is it? The Istanbul Convention and the Politics of Gender, Tradition & Morality in Latvia
PhD Candidate Isobel Squire, Dept. of Global Political Studies (GPS) will introduce the speaker.
Meeting ID: 650 6223 9038
December 7, 3-5 pm (zoom)
This paper explores the concept of culture wars through a thematic analysis of an on-going discussion of the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in Latvia. The analysis finds that the Latvian parliament’s struggle to ratify the Convention can be ultimately understood as a power struggle in which various political, religious and family-based interest groups are aiming to restore a self-perceived equilibrium within Latvian society In response to the perceived loss of male power, prestige and highly contestable notions of ‘traditional’ Latvian family values. The analysis eschews simple dichotomies that litter current conceptualisations of culture wars, recognising instead the fluid, dynamic and complex nature of Latvia’s culture war, and using Björn Kraus’ (2014) constructive theory of power the paper details how different sides within the debate are seeking to instruct or restrict the rights, resources, and values of others.
Foresight Scenarios on Populism: Imagining Central and Eastern European Politics in 2030
Welcome to the RUCARR seminar with Prof. Vello Pettai, University of Tartu: Foresight Scenarios on Populism: Imagining Central and Eastern European Politics in 2030
When: September 28, 3-5 pm (Swedish time)
Where: Zoom, sign-up here
Foresight research offers a range of techniques and perspectives in order to analyse political trends looking toward the future. This presentation will lay out a series of foresight scenarios about populist politics in Central and Eastern Europe that have been developed within the EU Horizon-2020 project “POPREBEL”. The scenarios are not meant as predictions, but rather as perspective-enhancing exercises about how different drivers might come together to create different outcomes by 2030. Participants will be asked to provide their analytical advice about how to improve the scenarios.
The role of traditional rituals in resisting energy injustice: The case of hydropower developments in Svaneti, Georgia
RUCARR seminar with Dr. Nino Antadze (University of Prince Edward Island)
October 19, 3.15 pm (zoom)
This study with co-author Kety Gujaraidze intervenes in the energy justice literature by bringing to the foreground the local, emplaced, and bottom-up perspective. We specifically explore the potential of place-based agency, expressed in the form of traditional rituals, to expand the repertoire of extra-institutional means of resistance against various manifestations of energy injustice. We investigate the recent developments in the hydropower sector in the Svaneti region of the Republic of Georgia. Based on a qualitative research design involving personal interviews and document analysis, we explain how and why the traditional ritual of taking the oath of unity on the icon of St. George has been used to oppose hydropower developments, and how the employment of this extra-institutional action is linked to the changed political opportunity structure. In addition to underscoring the need to recognize and respect the cultural and religious importance assigned to traditional rituals by local communities, the findings of our study imply a need to consider traditional rituals not merely as symbolic or/and performative means of resistance, but also as political tools that may have a significant impact on the development of energy projects.
Dr. Nino Antadze is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island (Canada). Dr. Antadze studies environmental planning processes with the emphasis on environmental and energy justice, and large-scale environmental change with the focus on climate justice and just transitions. Dr. Antadze earned a PhD in urban and regional planning from the University of Waterloo, Canada. She also holds an MSc in Environmental Management and Policy from Lund University, Sweden and an MSc in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Central European University, Hungary.
On the history of Caucasian Studies in the Tsarist Empire and early Soviet Union
Welcome to the RUCARR zoom seminar with Prof. Oliver Reisner (School of Arts & Sciences, Jean Monnet Chair, European & Caucasian Studies, Ilia State University, Tbilisi). The topic of his talk is On the history of Caucasian Studies in the Tsarist Empire and early Soviet Union.
When: May 25, 2021
Where: zoom, sign up here
In the past few years the first systematizing and critically reflective works on area studies in the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Union appeared. However, neither Eastern European history concentrating on the Slavic peoples nor philological Oriental studies have so far sufficiently addressed the effects of Tsarist and Soviet systems of scientific research into the Caucasus. In contrast, in the young post-Soviet nation-states, scholars often tend to interpret the share of Soviet research in their own national research traditions as a product of external determination, oppression or colonization, or at least they completely ignore it. The establishment of ‘kavkazovednie’ or Caucasiology as area studies represents the focus of my talk. The knowledge gained in this field is not considered as fixed, but seen as part of a culturally negotiated understanding of the Caucasus region. We will take a look at the places and groups supporting research in a concrete ‘microcosm’, here the Faculty for Oriental Languages of St. Petersburg University, the Caucasian Historical Archaeological Institute (1917) or the first Georgian university (1918) in Tbilisi. Research was embedded in varying political and social environments of Petersburg/Leningrad, Moscow and Tbilisi (Tiflis) for the Caucasus. I attempt to clarify the interdependence of these three ‘areas of experience’ in my discussion of the role of scholarship in state and society. Scientific achievement has been of particular importance for the self-understanding and representation of an imperial-state as well as respective nations. Recent studies into the practice of research in the early Soviet Union address most of all the effectiveness of scientific paradigms of nation building, but not so far scope and approaches of Caucasus Studies as area studies as an academic practice.
Oliver Reisner is professor in European and Caucasian Studies at Ilia State University Tbilisi (Georgia) since 2015. He received his Dr. phil. degree in East European History for a thesis on nation building in Georgia at Göttingen University (2000), coordinated the MA programme “Central Asia / Caucasus” at Humboldt University Berlin (2000-2003). After implementing an EU-funded civic integration project with World Vision in Georgia, from 2005 until 2015 he was working as project manager at the EU Delegation to Georgia. He published a monograph and 28 papers, most recently on Europeanisation, religion, civil society in Georgia as well as the Georgia country reports for the Bertelsmann Transformation Index. He is a member of the board of the “Association of European Studies for the Caucasus” and of the advisory council of the “European Journal of Minority Issues”. Currently he is leading a research project “In Search of Social Cohesion in Minor Urban Settings of Georgia” (Rustaveli National Science Foundation). Finally, he is co-editor of the series “Caucasian Studies” at Reichert Verlag Wiesbaden.
The Politics of Police Reform: Society against the State in Post-Soviet Countries
When: April 20, 3.15-5.00 CET
Where: Sign up here for Zoom link
Dr. Erica Marat is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Regional and Analytical Studies Department at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defence University. She has previously directed Homeland Defense Fellowship Program at CISA.
Dr. Marat’s research focuses on violence, mobilization and security institutions in Eurasia, India, and Mexico. During our seminar, she will present her book – The Politics of Police Reform: Society against the State in Post-Soviet Countries. What does it take to reform a post-Soviet police force? Across the region, the countries inherited remarkably similar police forces with identical structures, chains of command, and politicized relationships with the political elite. Centralized in control but decentralized in their reach, the police remain one of the least reformed post-communist institutions. As a powerful state organ, the Soviet-style militarized police have resisted change despite democratic transformations in the overall political context, including rounds of competitive elections and growing civil society. This book explores the conditions in which a meaningful transformation of the police is likely to succeed and when it will fail. Based on the analysis of five post-Soviet countries (Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan) that have officially embarked on police reform efforts, the book examines various pathways to transforming how the state relates to society through policing. It develops a new understanding of both police and police reform. Departing from the conventional interpretation of the police as merely an institution of coercion, this study defines it as a medium for state-society consensus on the limits of the state’s legitimate use of violence. Police are, according to a common Russian saying, a “mirror of society”—serving as a counterweight to its complexity. Police reform, in turn, is a process of consensus-building on the rationale of the use of violence through discussions, debates, media, and advocacy.