The First Annual Tartu Conference on Russian and East European Studies taking place from 12 to 14 June brings nearly 200 researchers and experts from around the world to Tartu to introduce the most recent research work in the field and discuss topical subjects, such as political and economic developments, culture and society in East Europe.
The academic conference, organised at the initiative of the UPTAKE consortium and held at the University of Tartu Centre for EU-Russia Studies (CEURUS), is the first of its kind in Estonia and also in Central and East Europe. The aim of the organisers is to turn this into an annual conference in Tartu and make Tartu a valued destination for researchers and academics who are interested in topics related to East Europe.
The main topic of the conference is “Europe under stress: the end of a common dream?”, which the main organiser of the conference, UT Professor of EU-Russian Studies Viacheslav Morozov, explains as follows: “Nowadays we are used to talking about crises in Europe and its neighbourhood. The selected topic and key speakers help us place these in a wider context. If we can make sense of the past crises and understand their causes, we are much better off dealing with the present situation.”
The circle of topics to be discussed is wide, ranging from international relations and economics to human geography, linguistics and culture theory. On the first day of the conference, renowned historian Archie Brown, Professor Emeritus of the University of Oxford, will give a talk on how misinterpreting the end of the Cold War affects the security situation in our region even 25 years later. At the plenary roundtable on 13 June scholars belonging to different disciplinary traditions will discuss the current state of Russian and East European studies and its achievements and failures over the past decades.
According to one of the organisers, Senior Research Fellow at UT Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies Piret Ehin, this is a topical issue because this research field has over the times been criticised for its inability to foresee important events: “The importance of Russian and East European studies decreased in the decades after the Cold War, but the developments of recent years have created a heightened interest in this field.”
The organisers were positively surprised and inspired by the big interest in the conference. Participants come from several West and East European countries but also from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.
Co-organisers of the conference are the Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University and the Global Europe Centre at the University of Kent.
In the first years, the conference will be financially supported in the framework of the European Union Horizon 2020 Twinning project UPTAKE. The aim of the project is to develop research activity in East European and Russian studies in cooperation with the Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University and the University of Kent, Great Britain.
Website of the conference: www.tartuconference.ut.ee
Maili Vilson, Research Communication Specialist at Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies/ Centre for EU-Russia Studies, University of Tartu