Understanding Russia: Insights into Contemporary Russian Culture and Politics
The recent crisis in Russia’s relations with the United States and the European Union has aggravated the tendency to view Russia through the prism of stereotypes. Contemporary Russian Federation is often seen as a re-incarnation of the Soviet Union, a country with authoritarian political culture single-handedly ruled by Vladimir Putin, pursuing an expansionist foreign policy agenda and engaged in a new Cold War against the West. While there is a grain of truth behind each of these stereotypes, they hardly advance our understanding of the complex social, cultural and political developments that underlie the current crisis, drive Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, and influence the daily realities and perspectives of millions of Russians.
The summer school invites you to go beyond clichés by looking at some of the key aspects of life in contemporary Russia. Rather than attempting a superficial overview of the standard ‘Russia A to Z’ topics, we will delve deeply into selected themes that illustrate the internal diversity of the Russian society and the multi-dimensional, often contradictory nature of recent transformations. Each day will focus on a specific aspect of societal developments, leading up to a discussion of current political issues – both domestic and international. Classes will be conducted by leading experts based in Estonia, Russia and other countries, each of them possessing unique first-hand insights based on years of conducting internationally acclaimed research.
The school is hosted by the Centre for EU-Russia Studies and Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies at the University of Tartu. Founded in 1632, the UT is the leading research university in the New Europe (Times Higher Education 2018). The school is held in the three main cities of Estonia: week 1 in the capital Tallinn, week 2 in the university town of Tartu and the weekend in the border city of Narva. The format of the school combines lectures and seminars with study trips, site visits, and a rich cultural and social programme.
The school’s curriculum will focus on the following broad themes:
Applications are evaluated based on
Motivation letter (up to 1.5 page) that demonstrates the applicant’s motivation to participate, explains his/her expectations about the programme and how participation in the summer programme is connected with his/her studies and interests, and how the applicant plans to use the gained experience and knowledge in the future.
Level: BA and MA
Credits: 4 ECTS
Location: Tallinn, Narva, Tartu
Time: 14–27 July; 2019
Programme fee: 1600 €
Programme fee: 1600 € includes tuition, cost of the study visits, cultural and social programme, services of the host university with accommodation in double rooms in a student dormitory.
Students are responsible for their travel and travel insurance (visa arrangements, if needed) from their home country to Tallinn and from Tartu back to their home country.
Arrival of participants. Welcome dinner
Mon 15/07, Tallinn
Perestroika and the origins of post-Soviet Russia (Viacheslav Morozov, University of Tartu)
Walking Tour of Tallinn Old TownTue 16/07, Tallinn
Memory politics: Wold War II, Stalinism and the myth of the 1990s (Viacheslav Morozov)Maarjamäe History Centre and memorial sitesWed 17/07, Tallinn
Science and education: the production of knowledge amid a heated debate (Elena Pavlova, University of Tartu)Patarei Prison and Seaplane HarborThu 18/07, Tallinn
Popular culture: official patriotism, mass entertainment and the alternative scene (Maria Engström, Uppsala University)
Cultural eventFri 19/07, Tallinn
Russian Orthodoxy, official conservatism and the societal reaction (Andrey Makarychev)
Free timeSat 20/07, Narva
Morning: bus to Narva. On the way: Sillamäe, a Soviet “secret town.”
Accommodation and lunch in Narva. UT Narva College, Town Hall, Bastions, Narva Castle and Riverside Promenade.
Festival Baltic Sun or an evening stroll, swim or spa visit at Narva-Jõesuu.
Sun 21/07, Narva to Tartu
Excursion to the abandoned Kreenholm textile manufacture, once the largest factory in the Russian empire. Bus to Tartu. On the road: Pühtitsa Orthodox convent, Alatskivi Castle, and Russian Old Believer villages at Lake Peipus. Arrival to Tartu in the evening.Mon 22/07, Tartu
Gender issues: patriarchal tradition and the feminist challenge (Viacheslav Morozov, Elena Pavlova)
Tour of the UT campus and Tartu city centre, including the UT Main Building and History museumTue 23/07, Tartu
Nation-branding: semiotic narratives, cultural representations and mega-events (Andrey Makarychev)AHHAA Science CenterWed 24/07, Tartu
Russia beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg: multiple life-worlds (Andrey Makarychev)Estonian National Museum and former Soviet airfield at RaadiThu 25/07, Tartu
Russians beyond Russia: the Russian world and cultural imperialism (Andrey Makarychev)
Free timeFri 26/07, Tartu
Looking beyond the headlines: politics and power in post-Soviet Russia (Andrey Makarychev, Viacheslav Morozov, Elena Pavlova)
Farewell dinnerSat 27/07, Tartu
Departure of participants or optional self-arranged extended stay in Estonia (recommended event for the weekend: Viljandi Folk Music Festival, https://www.viljandifolk.ee/)
Elena Pavlova holds a PhD from St. Petersburg State University (2000). She currently works as a Senior Researcher at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Science, University of Tartu, and Associate Professor at St. Petersburg State University. Her research interests include contemporary political philosophy, theory of international relations, domestic politics and foreign policy of Latin American countries, and EU-Russian normative competition. Selected recent publications include: “Breaking the Rules of the Genre: Current Political Issues in Russian Women’s Popular Fiction,” Scando-Slavica, 2018; “Indigeneity and subaltern subjectivity in decolonial discourses: a comparative study of Bolivia and Russia,” Journal of International Relations and Development, 2018, (co-authored with V. Morozov); “A Russian Challenge to Multipolarity? The Prospects for Political Cooperation between Russia and Latin America,” Problems of Post-Communism, “The Russian Federation and European Union against Corruption: A Slight Misunderstanding?” In: M. David and T. Romanova (Ed.). Modernisation in EU-Russian Relations: Past, Present and Future, Routledge Taylor & Francis, 2016.
Andrey Makarychev is Visiting Professor at Johan Skytte Institute of Political Science, University of Tartu. He is also guest Professor at Center for Global Politics, Free University in Berlin and Senior Associate with CIDOB think tank in Barcelona. His previous institutional affiliations included George Mason University (US), Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research (ETH Zurich), and Danish Institute of International Studies. Andrey Makarychev teaches courses on "Globalization", "Regime Change in post-Soviet Eurasia", "EU-Russia Relations", "Regionalism and Integration in the post-Soviet Area", "Media in Russia". In recent years he co-authored two monographs - "Celebrating Borderlands in a Wider Europe: Nations and Identities in Ukraine, Georgia and Estonia" (Nomos, 2016), and "Lotman's Cultural Semiotics and the Political" (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017). He co-edited (all with Alexandra Yatsyk) a number of academic volumes - "Mega Events in post-Soviet Eurasia: Shifting Borderlands of Inclusion and Exclusion" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), "Vocabularies of International Relations after the Crisis in Ukraine (Routledge, 2017); "Borders in the Baltic Sea Region: Suturing the Ruptures" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).