Essays

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

Chernobyl as a post-Soviet memory space How ideas of progress and fear shaped a nuclear heritage site

What Chernobyl means to different people has dramatically changed over time. Today, its image mostly invokes fear of radiation, illness, as well as uncertainty. The ruins of the plant are regarded as a somewhat unpredictable source of danger that needs constant attention and monitoring. This is a remarkable historical change from how Chernobyl used to be seen. Before 1986, the construction of Ukraine’s first major nuclear power plant symbolized progress and the hope for a better future. In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and recent media coverage of nuclear energy in this context, Chernobyl has truly become a memory space, serving as a place for projections of a multitude of attitudes regarding nuclear safety, catastrophe, war, maintenance and negligence.

Essay by Achim Klüppelberg January 18, 2023

Why neutrality is dangerous for Ukraine’s statehood And why Ukraine may have to seek security agreements outside NATO

In this essay it is argued that membership of a military alliance with clear security guarantees is a fundamental factor for safeguarding Ukraine’s statehood. The neutrality solution advocated for Ukraine by the so-called “realists” in both academic and political environments does not apply to the Ukrainian-Russian war. Realist readings, as the author demonstrates in the essay, are problematic and cannot explain the fully complex nature of the conflict. On the other hand, an insight into Russia’s imperial identity provides a more convincing outlook of the situation.

Essay by Dzmitry Pravatorau January 18, 2023

Dehumanizing the Hate speech directed at Ukrainians in Russian media

The impact of negative rhetoric towards Ukraine, the United States and European countries are the constant ingredients in the “menu” of Russian state media resources, not to mention blogs and social networks. Previous examples such as Rwanda and Srebrenica have shown how words of hatred lead to acts of hatred, with yesterday’s civilians being ready to kill their dehumanized neighbors. Unfortunately, one now can add to this list of examples Ukraine. Hate speech towards Ukraine began to gain momentum since 2014, after the “Revolution of Dignity” took place and the country was taking a political course towards European integration.

Essay by Yuliya Krylova-Grek January 18, 2023

Cancelling Russia The situation for Russian speakers in Latvia following the invasion of Ukraine

Many who grew up speaking Russian in independent Latvia do not associate themselves with Russia or what one could call the Russian world, nor the values and aggressions carried out in Ukraine in the Russian language. A recent survey shows that the Russian speaking residents aged 18 to 34 years were more likely to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yet, many Russian speakers in Latvia are experiencing an emotional crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war has securitized already divisive issues in the country, such as historical memory and access to media in one’s preferred language.

Essay by Emma Rönngren January 18, 2023

The Violent State Fear and protest in Russia

The modern Russian state is built on random and unpredictable institutionalized violence, on fear and pain. Therefore, one of the most common reactions to the power abuse from the Russian government is to ignore the state and try to build your own little life.

Essay by Elena Palenova January 18, 2023

Belarus – where society is deprived of power but not agency

"I was terrified and scared but more than ever before I felt that I am a Belarusian and I could not stay home. I can’t say that I felt exactly like a soldier preparing to die while protecting the Homeland, but a similar feeling overwhelmed me then." These are the words of one of the female protestors who took part in a street demonstration in Minsk on February 27, 2022. According to different estimates, between 1,000 and several thousand Belarusians came out to protest against the start of the war in Ukraine and against the referendum on constitutional change in Belarus.

Essay by Alesia Rudnik January 18, 2023

The rise of the Swedish welfare state Introducing modern food practices into the modern food system

This article highlights the development of modern food practices and food regulations in Sweden with special emphasis on food safety and food security from the late 19th century to 1950s. The results are linked to the wider discussion about modernization and societal change in Sweden and includes industrial organization in the agro-food sector, technological development, and the reality experienced by the population during decades that were heavily influenced by the consequences of two world wars and the rise of the welfare state.

Essay by Paulina Rytkönen June 22, 2022

Manuscripts do not burn. What about unwritten manuscripts?

According to the databases of Ukrainian Cultural Foundation and of Ministry of Culture and Information Politics in Ukraine, there were 389 crimes against cultural heritage on June 10, 2022. In the conditions of an ongoing war, it is impossible to be certain of any further damage; this general insecurity and vulnerability adds to general losses. In many towns in Ukraine people made efforts to secure their monuments, covering them physically and digitalizing them in databases.

Essay by Alla Marachenko June 22, 2022

The dilemma of memory laws To restore the dignity of victims without feeding into ultra-nationalism

In most post-communist countries after the breakdown of the USSR, memory legislation often aimed at constructing an identity of suffering under Nazism and the totalitarian Soviet regime, which relativized itself according to a cosmopolitan understanding of victimhood centered on the Holocaust memory. Regulations of memory, in this sense, were considered an indicator of democratic transition and an entry ticket to the European Union.

Essay by Cagla Demirel June 22, 2022

Space nostalgia: the future that is only possible in the past

I would like to offer this remnant of a futuristic halo of the Soviet space program as a possible way to comprehend why April 12 never managed to become a full-fledged fantasy world of what Boym terms “restorative nostalgia” like May 9th, and to see which alternative ways to understand nostalgia it may open up.

Essay by Roman Privalov June 22, 2022