Research Training Course: Creativity and control: Rephrasing closed societies

How should we approach the “time of troubles” (смутное время) in the 1990s as a period of transformation from a closed Soviet society to a seemingly open society of the present, enhanced with contemporary Russia’s new modernisation project? And how do we approach its innovation potential?

Time and place

:

05.06.2011 to 10.06.2011


Contact person

:

+358 9 191 23645

In order to understand post-socialist societies and cultures today, the question of open and closed systems in relation to cultural processes is becoming increasingly relevant. Closed societies are often felt to be incapable of producing or accepting innovative changes, while open societies are treated as dynamic platforms for interaction. Totalitarian control and isolation are seen as typical for closed societies.

However, 20th century Soviet Russian history has proven problematic for such an approach. One of the challenges is the immediate post-revolutionary society and culture (the Bolshevist modernisation project and avant-garde of the 1920s), with its enormous innovation potential. At the same time, recent studies have even assessed the Cold War period as being more capable of interaction across borders than had earlier been stated. Now, more than 20 years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, is a fitting time to reassess the period of late socialism, since the structures of inner dialogue in the Soviet society of the era were more complex than previously established. This inner dialogue, in turn, was capable of producing new cultural formations (such as the Leningrad Rock Club in 1981), which served as impulses for the processes of Perestroika.

How then, should we approach the “time of troubles” (смутное время) in the 1990s as a period of transformation from a closed Soviet society to a seemingly open society of the present, enhanced with contemporary Russia’s new modernisation project? And how do we approach its innovation potential?

It is worth studying the post-socialist countries’ methods of communicating within themselves and with others. A good example of the recent inward turn is the new Russian official historiography. The closed processes that are evident in present-day Russia can also be seen as a reaction against the claim for openness; in a way, the society sets its own path and proclaims its own right to choose and decide.

The 2011 Summer School, research training course for PhD students and young post-doctoral researchers, is now invited to discuss these phenomena from various multidisciplinary perspectives. The relevant fields include history, political science, social sciences, anthropology, cultural theory, literature and gender studies.

Suggested topics to be discussed are:

• The self-reflective culture, discourses of power, processes of open/closed in culture
• New historiography
• New approaches to Stalinism
• The assimilation of alien elements in Russian culture
• Democracies vs. hegemonies; development of democracy, civil society
• Rephrasing the official and unofficial in Soviet culture

Invited lecturers

• Sari Autio-Sarasmo, senior researcher, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland
• Mark Bassin, research professor, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies, Södertörn University, Sweden
• Evgenii V. Bershtein, associate professor, Russian Department, Reed College, USA
• Tomi Huttunen, post-doctoral fellow/researcher, Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki, Finland
• Mihail Jampolski, professor, Department of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University, USA
• Rósa Magnúsdóttir, assistant professor , Institute of History and Area Studies, University of Aarhus, Denmark
• Katalin Miklóssy, research fellow, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland
• Libora Oates-Indruchova, researcher, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres, Vienna, Austria and associate professor, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Czech Republic
• Gennadi Obatnin, university lecturer, Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki, Finland
• Michael Pullman, assistant professor, Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, Charles University, Czech Republic
• Peeter Torop, professor, Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonia

Credits: 6 ECTS

Project leader: Professor Markku KivinenProgramme

The summer school will consist of lectures, workshops (including presentations of participants’ papers), roundtable discussions and excursions. The course counts for six ECTS credits and will be conducted in English.

Applications

Please fill in the e-form at https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/25208/lomake.html. The application should include an abstract of the paper to be presented at the summer school (approximately 300 words) and your curriculum vitae. The deadline for applications is 13 March 2011.

Organisers

The summer school is organised by the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki in cooperation with the Department of Modern Languages at University of Helsinki and the Nordic Network on Russian and Eastern European studies, which comprises Södertörn University/Centre for Baltic and East European Studies and the Baltic and East European Graduate School, the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs/ Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies, Århus University/Institute of History and Area Studies, and The School for Renewable Energy Science in Iceland. The summer school will take place at the University of Latvia, Faculty of Social Sciences. The course is funded by the NordForsk.

More information about this event…