The Tartu Conference is a venue for academic discussion of the fundamental cultural, social, economic and political trends affecting all aspects of people’s life in Russia and Eastern Europe. Inaugurated in June 2016 as the flagship event for the Horizon 2020 UPTAKE consortium, this forum brings together scholars from across multiple disciplines, from the region and beyond. The 2019 Tartu Conference is organized by the UT’s Centre for EU–Russia Studies (CEURUS) in cooperation with the Institute of Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University and the Global Europe Centre at the University of Kent.
The problem of community – moral and political, cultural and civic, national, local, regional and global – is central to many heated debates of our time. These debates often focus on state sovereignty, including such issues as national independence, control over territories and people, interdependence and regional integration, minorities and immigration. However, we live in an increasingly fragmented world, where political polarization and ‘culture wars’ undermine national cohesion. Imperial legacies, technological developments and globalization reshape existing communities and create new ones, both in the ‘real’ world and in cyberspace. Revolutionary forms of art and cosmopolitan lifestyles sometimes clash with conservative mindsets which foreground traditional culture and civilizational uniqueness. Against this background, there is ever more urgent need to reflect on what holds communities together and enables them to operate as sovereign agents shaping their own future.
Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet space is a region where such controversies are as salient as anywhere in today’s world. In the recent decades, the region has been affected by global post-industrial transformations, while also becoming an arena of multiple overlapping struggles between tradition and change. Conference participants are invited to reflect on these challenges as they are faced by local communities and entire nations; comparative research focusing on the region and beyond is particularly encouraged.