Essays

Essays are selected scholarly articles published without prior peer-review process.

Upside down on horseback. The trickster Pippi Longstocking in the GDR

A sketch for the cover of the second East German edition to Pippi Langstrumpf (1988) showing a girl standing on her head on horseback is the starting point for this article. It was drawn by Cornelia Ellinger, only one year before the fall of the Berlin wall. The sketch becomes a starting point for a discussion of humor and materiality in the reception of Pippi in the GDR.

Essay by Lisa Källström December 11, 2023

Tourist with a film camera Georg Oddner in the Soviet Union

This essay presents the little-known story of the first western package tour to the postwar Soviet Union along with neverbefore-seen photographs from the journey. It also introduces the digitized Oddner archive, which contains an abundance of visual sources on the Soviet Union of 1955.

Essay by Sune Bechmann Pedersen December 11, 2023

The public pedagogy of Ukrainian flag displays: A view from Lithuania & Estonia

The material landscape of the Baltic states has dramatically changed with the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine: the Ukrainian flag, or its distinctive blue-yellow, has saturated the public space. In places once reserved only for the national flag, the Ukrainian flag flies right next to it. Building facades, windows, and walls serve as new surfaces for the display of the yellow and blue. The periodic, holiday-driven appearance of national flags has given way to the constant show of Ukrainian flags.

Essay by Kara D. Brown & Aimee Herring December 11, 2023

Russian cultural expansion in Ukraine. Exploring new perspectives for international relations in the region

The paper examines Russia’s cultural expansionism that extends beyond the military invasion in Ukraine since 2014. In the first part, I trace Russia’s systematic efforts to seize and manipulate Ukrainian heritage, often under the guise of protection. I also touch on the role of museums in this expansion, where they are used to preserve collections through coercive acquisition and to promote a Russian-centric narrative. The second part of the article delves into the historical relationships between Russia and Ukraine, especially in the context of the Soviet era’s museum infrastructure. Overall, the text calls for new concepts and international efforts to critique Russia’s actions and protect Ukrainian culture.

Essay by Maria Silina December 11, 2023

The Missing and the Mass Graves

Nearly three decades after the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, thousands of people are missing and mass graves are regularly found. Relatives still search for knowledge about their loved ones in the midst of secrets, rumors and ethnonationalist denial. As the country struggles to come to terms with this dark legacy of the war, art has emerged as a space for recognition of the lingering presence of absence of the missing.

Essay by Johanna Mannergren Selimovic December 11, 2023

Let the right one in. Building relations of trust

Building mutual trust was for years one of the desired aims of international cooperation in the Nordic region; the existence of trust was intended to contribute to the reduction of political tensions and lead to more sustainable and peaceful region. In practice, working with international cooperation in the Nordic region, where Russia was one of the actors until 2022, has never been easy. One of the main obstacles on the way was the deficit of trust.

Essay by Ekaterina Kalinina August 23, 2023

Chinese youth: Domestic issues and transnational developments

The increasing investment in and emphasis on ideological and political education at Chinese universities, and statements, including by Xi Jinping himself, and other policies related to youth and higher education, reveals a growing concern about youth. This article provides a brief overview of developments and policies affecting Chinese youth, including the emergence of new values among them.

Essay by Marina Svensson August 23, 2023

What do Azerbaijani youth prefer: Silicon Valley, Pushkin, or Confucius?

The aim of this essay is to explore the cultural, educational or so-called soft power influence of Russia and China in Azerbaijan. The essay analyzes the state and perspectives on the influence of Chinese and Russian soft power in the South Caucasus, focusing on Azerbaijan. It discusses the current situation and tries to put the soft power influence of Russia and China into perspective. It zooms in on the Azerbaijani case, because, contrary to other South Caucasus governments, the Azerbaijani leadership is trying to find a balance between the involvement of both the regional powers and the great powers by maintaining a virtually equal political distance from the West and from Russia and China.

Essay by Nurlan Aliyev August 23, 2023

Soft Power. Coopting post-Soviet youth: Russia, China, and transnational authoritarianism

This Special Issue include eight articles that endeavor to analyze more deeply different aspects of the influence of transnational “soft power” aimed at coopting youth in authoritarian and hybrid regimes through radical and nationalist youth organizations, patriotic education, and youth wings of ruling parties. By means of such activities, governments try to distract the youth from countercultural movements and opposition politics as well as to educate an obedient and loyal generation. The purpose is to “vaccinate” such generations with illiberal or authoritarian values in order to eliminate potential threats to regimes’ stability.

Essay by Oleg Antonov and Olena Podolian August 23, 2023

The fear of the word Samizdat and political language in the real socialist dictatorship

The article deals with samizdat writing in the GDR, which could not be published legally. Thus, authors published their critical texts on handbills and smaller booklets. The article shows forms of distribution and focuses the analysis on individual examples and actors.

Essay by Ines Soldwisch June 20, 2023