Multidisciplinary center focusing on Russia

4 August 2010

A new Center for Russian Studies is taking shape at Uppsala University. It will be the only one of its kind in Sweden and will pursue multidisciplinary research focusing on Russia and its neighboring countries. The Center is intended to be an advanced resource for anyone interested in Russia.

Among other things, the Center will seek to understand what shapes Russian identity, studying the formation of the Russian state, justice, market processes, and the post-Soviet area.

Political scientists, sociologists, economists, legal scholars, linguists, historians, anthropologists, theologians ... the Center for Russian Studies (UCRS) gathers researchers from nearly every department in social sciences and the humanities at the University.

“We have a large number of scholars with incredible breadth,” says director Claes Levinsson, “and we are inviting collaboration with other universities and university colleges, both in Sweden and abroad, to develop both new and existing research networks.”

The list of collaborating universities already includes Stockholm, Lund, and Södertörn in Sweden, and Stanford and Harvard in the U.S. Contacts and collaborations are also in place with several researchers and universities in Russia and its neighboring countries, including Jekaterinburg, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Archangelsk, Tyumen, Nizhniy-Novgorod, Kiev, Riga, Chişinău, and Minsk.

“We want to inform the political dialogue and be a voice in the public debate both about and with Russia,” says Elena Namli, associate professor of ethics and one of the research directors at UCRS.

Studying and interpreting what is going on in the big country in the east has been complicated during some periods. However, with the fall of the Soviet Union, insight into Russian society has increased.

“In recent years there have been changes in Russia that indicate that there is a will to dissociate the country from the Western liberal model of market economies and democratic rights. In the process of Russia going its own way, both nationalistic and imperialistic features can be discerned,” says Elena Namli. “This is one reason to enhance communication, to listen to each other, and to establish relations!”

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UCRS - Uppsala Centre for Russian Studies