Preliminary Programme  (links, dates, and hours to be specified, all subject to eventual changes)   In December 1991, the Soviet […]

Published on balticworlds.com on February 23, 2021

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Preliminary Programme 

(links, dates, and hours to be specified, all subject to eventual changes)


In December 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist, but its material and symbolic legacies still appear powerful enough to obliterate perspectives on the present and the future that has lost its utopian force.

Throughout the year 2021, CBEES arranges a series of roundtable discussions to make sense of this longue durée of “afterness”. With its various definitions from various vantage points (as transition, transformation, trauma, post-Soviet, post-communist, post-socialist, etc.), these thirty years require proper critical reflection. Such a discussion will be relevant in the context of multidisciplinary area studies as and has been conducted at CBEES almost throughout the whole of the period in question.

The roundtable organizers have created international panels for discussion on questions ranging from economics and law to environment and urban space; from the European right to global art, political and gender activism; the role of contemporary literature and documentary film; theoretical issues of present-day regionalism and critical methodologies after the end of the post-Soviet.



Online Film Screening and Discussion

Sergei Loznitsa, The Event/Sobytie  

CBEES is inaugurating the series with a film screening and discussion:

25 February 2021 – during the whole day you have an opportunity to see the movie online at your convenience –During this whole time you have an opportunity to see the movie online at your convenience.

N.B. Link for the movie will be activated on 25 February in the morning and you can see the film anytime until 26 February in the morning.

26 February 2021; 11.30 – 13.00 – Join the group online film screening in ZOOM

26 February 2021; 14.00 – 15.00 – Discussion about the film in ZOOM

LINK TO ZOOM for 26 February:

Join Zoom Meeting: https://sh-se.zoom.us/j/68533327978
Meeting ID: 685 3332 7978
Passcode: 200870

CBEES is very grateful for the courtesy of Sergei Loznitsa and Atoms & Void film/television studio to show the film!

Organizer: Irina Sandomirskaja

Film details:
Director: Sergei Loznitsa
Year: 2015
Length: 114 min.
Language: Russian with English subtitles

…August 1991 in Leningrad, the citizens preparing to defend the city against the attempted coup d’etat (the Putch). By the end of the year, the USSR would have been dissolved. A quarter of a century later, Sergei Loznitsa revisits the event in a documentary film made with the use of visual materials produced during August 19-22, 1991, by local film and television reporters.

Please also read:
Irina Sandomirskaja, “Ahasuerus on an Excursion. Austerlitz, 2016. Directed by Sergei Loznitsa”, in Interdisciplinary and Multucultural Critical Quarterly about Stakes of Memory, published April 20, 2018. Available at: https://www.memoires-en-jeu.com/actu/ahasuerus-on-an-excursion-austerlitz-2016-directed-by-sergei-loznitsa/

Irina Sandomirskaja, “Image, Afterimage, Counter-Image: Communist Visuality without Communism”, in CBEES State of the Region Report 2020: Constructions and Instrumentalization of the Past, pp 29-36. Available at: https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1525769/FULLTEXT01.pdf


Three Decades of Post-Soviet Economies: From The Myth of Transition to State Capitalism and Beyond

10-12 AM

Organizer:  Ilja Viktorov

The break-up of Communism brought about a systemic economic collapse for post-Soviet states. In the 1990s, this decline was unprecedented in modern history, except for countries involved in war conflicts. Degradation of economic capacity, de-industrialization, rise of poverty and emergence of “murky” institutional environment framed by redistribution of previously state-owned assets between shadow actors were common features for most of the countries in the region. The promise of tra nsition envisioned by neoliberal economists in the West and domestic reformers remained unfulfilled. Starting from the 2000s, the region has been in search of a new stable ground for recovery. From the 2010s, the emergence of state capitalism and its practices have been such an alternative, with all its drawbacks and contradictions. While Belarus pioneered experimentation with state capitalism in the 1990s, its particular solution has been in the end unstable due to reliance on one political leader. For Ukraine, the 1990s’ anarchy has never ended, with continued deindustrialization, increased poverty and the dominance of oligarch groups in politics and economy. In Russia and Kazakhstan, where inflow of hydrocarbon export income, re-nationalisations and consolidation of central political power prevented an all-encompassing economic and social degradation, a more viable state capitalist alternative gradually emerged. The latter resembles international trends towards increased quasi-market behaviour of state corporations and banks in the largest economies of the third world, including China, India, Brazil, Turkey and South Africa. The round table discusses the diverse paths of the largest four economies in the post-Soviet realm and the results produced by this transformation by 2021.


Yuko Adachi (Professor, Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan): Russia

Viachaslau Yarashevich (Humboldt researcher at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, München)

Yuliya Yurchenko (Senior Lecturer in Political Economy, University of Greenwich, London)

Yelena N. Zabortseva (Associate Professor, University of Sidney, tbc):

Ilja Viktorov (research fellow, Stockholm University): moderator



Dealing with the Totalitarian Past: Laws on Memory and Legislation

Organizers: Florence Fröhlig and Yuliya Yurchuk

After the collapse of the Soviet Union former Soviet republics took different approaches to dealing with the Soviet past. German historian Stefan Troebst made classification of countries according to the approaches they took: 1) societies which have established a general consensus about the foreign character of the communist regime imposed from outside (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania); 2) countries with a continuity of authoritarian tradition and without articulated distance from the communist past (Russia, Belarus); 3) countries in between with no clear distinction towards the Soviet past (Ukraine). These different paths taken in dealing with the (common) Soviet legacies show not only that different societies had different experiences of the past itself but also that different societies started moving in different directions imagining different presents and futures for themselves. After the fall of the URSS, victims, perpetrators and bystanders had to cohabitate. How could that be done? Is it possible to avoid the repetition of the past and calm compulsion of retaliation?

With the panel “Dealing with the totalitarian past: Laws on memory and legislation” we propose to approach the question of dealing with the Soviet past in different countries by discussing the legislation and production of “memory laws” (the laws that are directed to the state’s management and administration of the past) in these countries. For the past 30 years, we could witness that the past was often highly politicized, presented as the problem of justice and even framed as the question of state security. How was the Soviet past dealt legally by the countries that were part of the Soviet Union? What these different approaches tell us about the societies we are dealing with? If victims of the totalitarian regime might have been rehabilitated and liberated, have the perpetrators been condemned? Is the political demand reflected in the legal system?  


Maria Mälksoo, University of Kent

Andrii Nekoliak, Tartu University

Felix Krawatzek, Centre for East Europe and International Studies

Memorial activist

Memory laws: an interregional perspective on commemoration and legislation

Organizers: Cagla Demirel and Martin Englund

TEXT will come soon

MAY 26

Inheriting the Pandora Box: Environmental Impacts of the Soviet Industrial Legacy 

Organizers: Florence Fröhlig and Yuliya Yurchuk

The nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl has been considered a catalyst of the end of the Soviet Union since the inability of Soviet authorities to handle the situation triggered regionalist revendications. But the Chernobyl catastrophe was not the only “industrial” problem faced by the society in the end of the 1980s and for instance already on September 29, 1957, one of the largest nuclear disasters in the world had happened -the Kyshtym accident.  With the panel “Inheriting the Pandora box: Environmental impacts of the Soviet industrial legacy” we want to discuss impacts on the environment left by the Soviet industry. What is the situation of the industrial and nuclear legacies thirty years after the end of the USSR? How have the former republics – including Russia been able to deal with the Soviet industrial heritage?

If the end of the Soviet Union meant the withdrawal of the Russian authorities from the former republics, it meant also that former republics had to deal with the Soviet colonial legacy. If the issue of nuclear waste is negotiated by Rosatom on an international level, it is only on behalf of Post-Soviet Russia, and agreements do not include anymore the Post-Soviet republics which are left alone to deal with the Soviet hazardous waste. The territory of Sugd Oblast (Tajikistan), a center for both the extraction and enrichment of uranium during the Soviet time, is nowadays highly polluted and background radioactive levels exceed the acceptable level nationwide, which threatens the environment of the entire Ferghana Valley and its 10 million inhabitants. Another example of possible ecological risk is the proposal for the E-40 waterway, connecting the Baltic Sea with the Black Sea through Poland, Belarus and Ukraine via Chernobyl, which may activate the spreading of radioactive sludge and threaten the local populations and biodiversity. On the other hand, we can see the movement towards heritagization of the Soviet industry where the most illustrative example is Ukraine’s latest plans to get the status of “world’s heritage” to Chernobyl nuclear plant. The former metropole, Russia, itself is not exempt from the consequences of oppression and environmental degradation as a result of extractive approach to nature and local inhabitants, which are taking on a neocolonial shape also within this vast and diverse country.

Thus, our interest in the Soviet industrial legacies includes a broad range of questions: economic, political, historic, legislative, ecological and cultural. With the panel, we hope to open a multidisciplinary discussion which would include both scholars and practitioners.


Dmitri Litvinov, Greenpeace Sweden.

Mikhail Kreindlin, Greenpeace Russia.

Anna Barcz, Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Arran Gare,  Swinburn University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia´

Andy Bruno,  University of Illinois.



 Russia from the Outside: The European Far Right looks East, 1991-2021

Organizers: Mark Bassin and Per-Anders Rudling

Far Right Parties across Europe have had an ambiguous attitude towards Russia. If,throughout the 20th century the far right tended to see Russia as a bulwark of communist and/or Jewish conspiracy, following the collapse of the Soviet Union the attitude has been more ambiguous. One section of the far right in Poland, which intensely romanticises the interwar Polish republic and mourns the loss of the eastern borderlands tend to have a rather positive image of Russia and its historical role in the borderlands, and often find a common language in their strong condemnation of Ukrainian nationalist war-time atrocities against Poles.

The far right’s image of Ukraine has similarly been ambiguous – if Ukrainians were regarded as Untermenschen destined for decimation and decimation by the Nazis, during the Cold War a part of the far right has mobilised around the image of Ukraine as an Antemurale Christianitatis against an eastern, non-European threat. The OUN-led Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (1946-2000), consisting mostly of the remnants of the junior partners of the Axis powers (the Tiso regime, Ustasha, Iron Guards)  presented itself as the “West’s strongest allies,” opposing “Muscovite imperialism, red or white.”  Following the Russian invasion of 2014 volunteers from a number of European states have volunteered to fight for Ukraine and many have joined far-right battalions such as Azov and Aidar. On the other, other far right groups have been attracted by aspects of the Putin regime: its affirmation of conservative, traditional values, its opposition to homosexuality, its anti-Western rhetoric, its support for the Assad regime in Syria. Far right volunteers are found also on the side of the separatists in the Donbas. Authoritarian right-wing ideology, anti-NATO sentiments and/or national bolshevism, and sympathies for the Kremlin have been cited as motivation for Europeans volunteering on the side of the separatists.


Jose Pedro Zuquete (Social Sciences Institute, University of Lisbon, Portugal)

Andreas Umland (Department of Political Science, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kiev, Ukraine)

Tomasz Kamusella (University if St Andrews, St  Andrews, UK)

Nina Paulovicova (Centre for the Humanities, Athabasca University, Canada)



Art, Gender and Protest

Organizer: Yulia Gradskova

The aim of this round table is to discuss the post-Soviet long-durée from the perspective of gender, art and political activism. What does the “post” bring into the constructions of gender and in the forms of artistic expression in different post-Soviet countries?

The end of the Soviet Union usually is associated with the beginning of the transition to democracy as well as with opening space for the new styles, names and techniques in art. The Soviet ideas on equality between man and woman was challenged, while the new perspective of research on “gender” invited exploration of the interpretations of “man” and “woman” as constructed categories. The NGOs became a most visible form of activism for “gender equality”.

However, the fascination with the promises of transition and the boom of women’s NGOs and gender studies soon seem to give space to some skepticism about future and to criticism of the difficulties of application of “gender” to a post-Soviet realities. It was added by suspicions of the effectiveness of NGOs due to their dependence from foreign agencies and for elitist character of some of their activities. At the same time many Soviet objects, spaces and customs became not only subject for nostalgic feelings, but also an arena for the new activism and new constructions of gender and art. The growth of gender conservatism and the authoritarian control over freedom of speech, artistic production and gendered selves not rarely contributed to a new(?) use of the strategies and forms of resistance that were propagated by the Soviet authorities. For example, growing class differences in “post-Soviet” countries  led to new grassroot feminism, reinforced interest to Marxism and agit-art of   the 1920s, while the clashes with police lead to creation of the stories about new (female and male) martyrs.


Nadezda Petrusenko (Umeå university)

Viktoria Lomasko

Dinara Kudaibergenova

Antonina Stebur


Urban Space in Transition after the Collapse of the USSR


Organizer:  Irina Seits

The present panel suggests reflecting on the urban space of the former Soviet cities as affected by the collapse of the USSR in 1991 from variety of perspectives. We will map and analyze the traces of the socio-economic, cultural, and political processes that had led to the 1991 events in the late Soviet urban landscapes as well as think on the consequences of those processes, which enhanced the further urban transformations of the post-Soviet space in the past thirty years.

By employing the fields of architectural history, urban theory, literary and film studies, we will analyze the contemporary urban spaces of the former Soviet cities that embraced the 30 years after the USSR as both the memory sites of those events and as the cultural landscapes that were affected by and responded to the collapse of the USSR. The panel will focus on the following themes and questions:

  • The late Soviet and post-Soviet urban ”everyday” and “byt”[быт] in transition
  • Reconsidering the utopia or reconciling with the time: the architectural ”dissidence” and the problems of the paper architecture in the late USSR
  • To heal or to heat the past? ‘Re-discovery’ of the Soviet and ‘re-covery’ of the pre-Soviet architectural heritage after the collapse of the USSR
  • The urban space of the collapse in film, literature, and arts.
  • Public spaces in transition: (the case) sports stadiums of the 1990s as the new “non-sport” public spaces.


Jan Levchenko, (Higher School of Economics, Moscow)

Dmitry Kozlov, (European University, St. Petersburg)

Vadim Bass, (European University, St. Petersburg)

Irina Seits (Södertörn University)



A number of closed sessions at CBEES

Organizer: Irina Sandormiskaja

More information to come. Film and discussions and readings sessions.



“Obliscense”, or, Forgetting and Unforgetting The USSR Thirty Years After its Collapse (1991­–2021)

Organizer: Irina Sandomirskaja

A three-day including scholarly round-table discussions and documentary film screenings, with the following questions: the fall of the USSR: the event and its “eventness”; forgetting the USSR, memory, loss of experience (proposed as a parallel session with the Univ of Cambridge);the film archive and technologies of memory: the making of, use, abuse, reuse, etc. (preliminary title); the ”Cruel Museum ”of Inconvenient Memory. Memory, affect, artistic strategies (preliminary title); 30 Years of Post Soviet Studies: The After of the Post, in Search of a New Where To.

Films: documentaries by Sergei Loznitsa


Sergei Loznitsa