Seminar with Dr Lincoln Mitchell – The Caucasus in the Post-Covid Multi-Polar World

You are invited to attend the RUCARR online seminar on October 6  The Caucasus in the Post-Covid Multi-Polar World with Dr. Lincoln Mitchell, affiliated to Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University (bio below).

When: October 6, 3.15-5.00 pm (Swedish time)
Where: Zoom platform
The seminar is open to staff and students as well as other interested. Welcome to sign-up at rucarr@mau.se.

Abstract

One of the results of the mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the American government has been to accelerate the movement towards a truly multi-polar world. Instead of controlling the pandemic within its own borders and offering assistance to the rest of the world, the US suffered more loss of life and greater damage to its economy that most countries. One of the effects of this has been to damage not just America’s standing in the world, but also limit its ability to impact political events in the rest of the world. This development will be felt acutely in the Caucasus.

The three South Caucasus countries as well as the Russian regions in the North Caucasus have long had to navigate a path between major political powers, but the nature of that challenge began to change in 2017, when Donald Trump became President of the US, and has accelerated in recent months. These polities now find themselves in a very different world, one where the American footprint will be lighter and China’s almost certainly heavier. Additionally, the possibility of the world becoming less globally integrated will have major impact on a region that has long been a crossroads between different regions. These developments will have an impact on the domestic politics of the countries in the region on issues ranging from democracy and human rights to domestic stability as well as their relations with each other and the rest of the world including with regards to questions of trade, fighting terrorism and national security.

This seminar will explore these questions and probe how the Caucasus will be changed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bio

Lincoln Mitchell is a political analyst, pundit and writer based in New York City and San Francisco. Lincoln works on democracy and governance related issues in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. He also works with businesses and NGOs globally, particularly in the former Soviet Union. Lincoln was on the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International Affairs from 2006-2013. He retains an affiliation with Columbia’s Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and teaches in the political science department as well. In addition, he worked for years as a political consultant advising and managing domestic political campaigns. […] Continue reading: http://lincolnmitchell.com/about

RUCARR seminar – September 29

Welcome to a RUCARR seminar with Kristian Steiner & Khalil Mutallimzada on the topic:

Uncertainty and Extremism among Ukrainian Right-Wing Fighters

When: September 29, 15.15–17.00
Where: Zoom. Sign-up at rucarr@mau.se

Dicussant is Niklas Bernsand, European Studies, Lund University

Abstract

After the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine broke out in 2014, thousands of Ukrainians voluntarily enrolled to various paramilitary battalions. Unlike the Right Sector’s Volunteer Ukrainian Corps (RS VUC), almost all battalions were incorporated into Ukrainian official defense structures. Applying uncertainty-identity theory and based on interviews, observations, and documents, this study investigates fighters’ motivations for joining and remaining in the RS VUC. The study finds that the fighters distrust the Ukrainian society and authorities. Membership in the RS VUC, with its unambiguous group prototypes and high entitativity, reduces the fighters’ self-uncertainty regarding their social identity in an uncertain environment.

Kristian Steiner, Associate professor in Peace and Conflict Studies, Malmö University,  has for a long time been researching how religion function as a meaning making tool, legitimating, justifying, and motivating hate, violence. In his ongoing research and writing, Steiner analyses the function of meaning making and ideology for setting and policing the borders of closed communities, for legitimating its ties with external groups, and for internal its group dynamics

Khalil Mutallimzada has a BA in Law from Baku State University, Azerbaijan and a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Malmö University, Sweden. Currently he is doing his MA in Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden. Mutallimzada is, together with Kristian Steiner, also conducting research on a non-state Ukrainian paramilitary group called Right Sector’s Volunteer Ukrainian Corps (RS’ VUC), studying fighters’ motivations for joining this para-military battalion.

Roundtable discussion on Belarus

RUCARR is organising a roundtable discussion on the current development in Belarus. What are the likely scenarios for further development, how are external actors likely to react, and what are the general implications for politics in Europe and more globally?

Roundtable participants are Dr. Sofie Bedford (Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University); Prof. Aleh Cherp (Central European University & Lund University); PhD Natallia Paulovich (independent researcher, Warsaw); Martin Uggla (Östgruppen).

Moderator: Prof. Bo Petersson (RUCARR, Malmö University)

When : September 15, 15.15–17.00
Where: Zoom – Registration with name and affiliation: rucarr@mau.se

Bios:

Dr. Sofie Bedford is an affiliated researcher at IRES Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies. She is living in Vienna where she has been teaching East European Studies at the Department of Political Science, University of Vienna. For the past 5 years she has been working on a research project problematizing the concept of Opposition in post-Soviet authoritarian states with Azerbaijan and Belarus as the case studies. She has published articles from this project in various academic journals and also recently written a number of commentaries about the situation in Belarus related to the Covid-19 crises, the Presidential Election, and its aftermath.

Aleh Cherp is a professor of Central European University (CEU) in Vienna and Lund University. Prof. Cherp served as the Academic Secretary and as the Research Director of CEU. For over 15 years he has coordinates a multi-university Erasmus Mundus Masters program in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management. His research focuses on global climate and energy. He has served in several leading roles in European science, including most recently as a Panel Chair in the European Research Council. Prof Cherp has also undertaken professional work for the European Environment Agency (EEA), UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, and USAID among others. He is originally from Belarus and has participated several academic and professional projects in the field of energy and environment there. Prior to joining CEU in 2000, he earned his Masters and PhD at Manchester University and worked with NGOs and the United Nations in Central Asia, Russia and Belarus. He also founded an Environmental NGO in Moscow during the political change in the Former Soviet Union. His first degree was in Physics. Member of the Extended Coordination Council for Overcoming the Political Crisis in Belarus.

Natallia Paulovich, Ph.D., is an independent researcher from Belarus located in Warsaw, Poland. In 2018 she received a doctoral degree in sociology with a focus on Georgian women at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Moreover, the experience she gained studying Belarusian history at Belarusian State University in Minsk, and the subsequent studies at the Centre of East European Studies, University of Warsaw, provided Natallia with a broad analytical perspective about various social, national, religious, and political issues in Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Her current research interest is concentrated on gender, post-industrialization and workers’ mobilization in Belarus.

Martin Uggla, human rights defender, chairman of Östgruppen – Swedish Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights. Has 25 years of experience from working with civil society development in Eastern Europe. Special focus on Belarus, has followed the human rights situation in the country closely  during the last 20 years. Author of several articles on Belarus and the book “Bruksanvisning för diktatorer – en berättelse om Belarus och Europas första moderna diktator” (2014)

RUCARR seminar with Dr My Lilja

Drug discourses in Russia

My Lilja, PhD, University Lecturer in Criminology, Malmö University

Abstract

Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been an intensified debate about drugs in Russia, for example in the parliament and in the press, and the drug problem is now regarded as one of the country’s most serious problems and an issue of top priority for the Russian government. This presentation will focus on ongoing and previous research about drug discourses in Russia. Some issues of particular interest were the identification of dominant discourses on drugs, the determination of which understandings of the drug problem were taken for granted and which were not recognised, whether there were any discussion of the consequences of the problem and an analysis of which actors that were represented in the debate.

When: May 19, 15.00–16.30
Where: Zoom, for sign-up, contact rucarr@mau.se

Seminar with Dr. Dato Gogishvili

Lofty Ideals in Aerial Connectivity: Ideology in the Urban Cable Car Network of Tbilisi, Georgia

Seminar with Dr. Dato Gogishvili (Postdoc at Dept. of Urban Studies, Malmö University)
When: May 4, 13.30-15.00
Where: Zoom online platform (link in Zoom: https://mau-se.zoom.us/j/65183900856)

Abstract
This article (in collaboration with Suzanne Harris-Brandts, Department of Urban Studies + Planning, MIT) examines the ten-line cable car network of Tbilisi, Georgia,constructed between 1953 and 1988, then decommissioned in the 1990s and partially reactivated since 2012. During the Soviet era, Tbilisi’s cable cars played an important role in the city’s mass mobility, particularly in areas of steep geography. They also functioned ideologically, supporting Soviet ambitions toward the collective provision of public transportation and accessto recreational spacefor the working proletariat. This article unpacks such ideology, chartingits evolution over the network’s sixty-year timeline. It describes the ideological shifts that took place following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Georgia’s transition to a capitalist economy. Specifically, it explores how Tbilisi’s cable car network is linked to changes in government urban development priorities and desires to create tourism attractions, while also reinforcing select framings of the surrounding landscape. The newly introduced cable car lines of the 21st centurynow reflect contemporary ideological goals that see cable cars as assets for luring global capital and facilitating the commodification of Tbilisi’s historic cityscape. The article thus argues that the city’s cable car network can be understood as embodying changes in government stances toward labor, leisure, and the direction of future development, while further reflecting the mobility politics of the city. The findings are based on personal interviews and historic document analysis, as well as transit ridership and City Hall data that collectively provide an evaluation of Tbilisi’s cable car network as it has transformed since the 1950s.

BIO
David received his doctoral degree in Urban Studies and Regional Science at Gran Sasso Science Institute in 2017 where he studied the state use of mega-events as a tool for urban development and the imposition of legal exceptions onto host cities. Subsequently, he joined the University of Lausanne as a postdoctoral researcher where he studied the impact of megaprojects in the urban development of Kazakhstan. Currently, he is a postdoc at the Department of Urban Studies at Malmö University where he is carrying out a research project scrutinizing the role of legal exceptions in urban planning for the realization of the real estate megaprojects in Georgia and its surrounding governmental discourses. David’s research interests include interrelation of mega-events and legal exceptions, mega-events and urban image construction, mega-event related urban policy mobilities and the use of mega-events as a tool of urban development in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. David is also a principal researcher in the Shota Rustaveli Georgian National Science Foundation-funded project “Examining the Social Impacts of Large, Private Sector Urban Development in Batumi and Tbilisi”.

Seminar with Dr. Stepan Grigoryan on the Velvet Revolution


On January 28, Dr. Stepan Grigoryan – Chairman of the Board of the Yerevan-based Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation (ACGRC) NGO – gave the seminar entitled Velvet Revolution and Political Developments in Armenia.


Dr. Grigoryan holds diplomatic rank of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia. In the years 1998-2000, he was Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, and in 1995-1998 as a diplomat, he held different positions at the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1990-1995 Stepan Grigoryan was a member of the Armenian Parliament.

The Armenian Velvet Revolution by Stepan Grigoryan. Yerevan: Edit Print, 2018.

When: 3.15-5 pm, January 28
Where: Niagara Building (Nordenskiöldsgatan 1), Seminar room 9th floor (external participants, please, come to the reception in the Niagara lobby at 3 pm)..

RUCARR seminar with Prof. Robert A. Saunders

On December 10, Professor Robert A. Saunders will give the seminar Getting over Borat: Exploring the (After-)Effects of Parody in the Post-Soviet Realm.

Dr. Robert A. Saunders is Professor of History, Politics and Geography Farmingdale State College (SUNY), Dept. of History, Politics, and Geography, NY.

Read more:
Staff page: Farmingdale State College (SUNY)
Personal website: www.boratologist.com

When: December 10, 3.15-4.45 pm
Where: Niagara Building, Block C, Seminar room, 9th floor
(External participants, please wait at the Reception by the C elevators at 3 pm)