Uppsala-BASEES Conference - Regimes and Societies in Conflict: Eastern Europe and Russia since 1956

Regimes and Societies in Conflict: Eastern Europe and Russia since 1956

Uppsala-BASEES Conference 13-14 September 2018

Uppsala Universitet

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The Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University and the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies are hosting a two-day conference to be held at Uppsala University in September 2018 with the theme ‘Regimes and Societies in Conflict: Eastern Europe and Russia since 1956’.

Over the last 60 years Eastern Europe and Russia have been the scene of immense political, social and cultural upheaval. This conference provides the opportunity to reflect on the changes in the region that have led from Stalinist dictatorships to the very varied polities of contemporary Eastern Europe and Russia.

Download the full draft conference programme.

Register at www.uppsala-basees.org 

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Registration fee: €100 (€120 after 17 August)

Registration fee (PhD students): €70 (€90 after 17 August)

If you are unable to take advantage of the early-bird rate due to outstanding visa or funding applications, please contact us at uppsalabasees@gmail.com

Enquiries about the conference are welcome at uppsalabasees@gmail.com

 

Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University and the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies

The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences “The SHANINKA” - Statement form the President of BASEES

It is with the deepest regret and incredulity that the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies has learned of the decision of Rosobrnadzor in the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation not to renew the accreditation of the Moscow School of Social and economic sciences.  This institution is known affectionately as “the Shaninka”, after its founder the scholar of Russian peasantry Teodor Shanin, an old and valued member of BASEES.

 BASEES President Prof Judith Pallot

BASEES President Prof Judith Pallot

The consequence of Rosobrnadzor’s decision for the 300-strong student body is that if they choose to continue their courses at the university their hard-earned diplomas will no longer be state-recognized, with all that that implies for their future academic and career trajectories (including, their deferment from military service). The impact on those who were planning to enter  the university in the future  is not difficult to imagine.

I will not speculate on the reasons for the decision to revoke the Shaninka’s accreditation, except to note that it seems set to extinguish yet another of the shining beacons of higher education in the Russian Federation.  Since its foundation in 1995, the Shaninka has become an internationally respected institution of higher education and research.  Its graduate and, recently introduced, undergraduate programmes attract the very best and talented young people from all over the Russian Federation. These students had the benefit of tuition from some of the Russian Federation’s liveliest minds, scholars who are academic leaders in varied fields of social and economic sciences, but also who are experienced practitioners in the world of culture, business and the law. They include Vasily Zharkov, Victor Vakhstain, Linor Goralik, Pavel Rudnev, Grigory Yudin and the Rector, Sergey Zuev.

Experience has shown that higher education is most successful in achieving its mission of producing the next generation of scholars, figures in public life, industry and enterprise when tuition is informed by rigorous, cutting-edge research and real-world practice. Rosobrnadzor not only inflicts a blow on the cause of quality higher education in the Russian Federation, from which the whole sector will suffer, but it also harms the reputation of academic scholarship in the Russian Federation more broadly by landing a fatal blow on the numerous varied and innovative programmes of international cooperation and collaboration in research, teaching and learning that have been painstakingly built over the past two decades. In particular, the partnership of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences with the University of Manchester, where Teodor Shanin is emeritus professor, has demonstrated how the international academic community can be enriched at all levels by collaborative programmes, which can act as rare forums for genuine and disinterested exchange of views. 

BASEES wishes to convey its solidarity with the staff and students of Shaninka and to add its voice to those urging the Ministry of Education to reverse Rosobrnadzor’s potential death sentence on this has pronounced on this unique seat of scholarship and learning.

Judith Pallot, President of BASEES

BASEES Women’s Forum Prizes 2018

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Book Prizes

Pauline Fairclough, Classics for the Masses: Shaping Soviet Musical Identity under Lenin and Stalin

In the shaping of Soviet cultural identity from 1917 to 1953, music played an important role. Great works of art were integrated into the Soviet canon, but could also be used to criticise contemporary Soviet artists, to build a new narrative of Russian supremacy, while stamping out musical avant-gardism. Fairclough’s book provides fascinating detail on programming and performance based on archival research. She explains judiciously an era which, while it may not have ‘moulded’ the Soviet listener, did offer a form of entertainment not widely accessible before 1917. The canon was never wholly static, even in the years 1948-53, when it was most tightly controlled. Her book will be the definitive work on this subject.

Sarah Badcock, A Prison without Walls? Eastern Siberian Exile in the Last Years of Tsarism

While Soviet historiography emphasized the cultural benefits that political exiles brought to Siberia, Badcock gives voice as well to the regional authorities and local populations, who articulated the negative impacts of exile on their communities.  Exiles who lacked private means were forced to provide for themselves in unaccustomed conditions. There was a quota on those allowed into the towns, and little work elsewhere. Criminal exiles roamed free, for example in Yakut villages, further impoverishing and terrorising their local inhabitants. Badcock has consulted archives in the Sakha Republic and the Irkutsk Oblast. We hear new kinds of voices in this study, and find descriptions that prove further that state ambitions for forced labour and the misery of prisoners and their families did not begin with the Soviet state. 

Book Prize Jury: Dan Healey and Barbara Heldt

 

Article Prizes

This year saw a great range of essays submitted which demonstrated that
scholarship by women on Eastern Europe is really flourishing.

We awarded the BASEES women's prize jointly to Agnes Kriza for her
beautifully illustrated article on ‘The Russian Gnadenstuhl’ for the
Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 79 (2016), pp. 79-130.
 
The intricacy of the research impressed the judges as well as her
empirical range which integrated material from a several
historiographical traditions. We thought it was a striking piece of
historical detection, which rescued a little known period in Russian
history. The other joint winner was Michelle Assay for her original and
incisive article 'What did Hamlet (not) do to offend Stalin?' Actes des
congrès de la Société française Shakespeare [on line], 35 / 2017
. Dr
Assay elegantly traced Stalin’s antipathy to ‘Hamletism’ and historic
Russian interpretations of Hamlet rather than to Shakespeare and the
Danish prince per se.  Drawing on a wide range of secondary and archival
sources, the article presented a nuanced, compelling and tight argument.

Runners up

The judges also warmly commended the runners up. We
thought that Maria Engström's essay ‘Daughterland [Rodina-Doch’]: Erotic
patriotism and Russia's future. Conservative mobilization and
sexualization of the nation’
, published with the online journal Intersection: Russia/Europe/World, contained the kernel of a fascinating idea which could be developed into a longer piece. We admired the empirical detail about Ivanovo and the intellectual ambition of the article ‘Appropriation and Subversion: Precommunist Literacy, Communist Party Saturation, and Postcommunist Democratic Outcomes’ by Tomila V. Lankina, Alexander Libman and Anastassia Obydenkova which was published in World Politics, vol. 68 no. 2, 2016, pp. 229-274. The article by Sigita Kraniauskien and Laima Žilinskien on ‘Soviet Ethics in Soviet Memory Studies’ in The Soviet Past in the Post-Socialist Present: Methodology and Ethics edited by Melanie Ilic and Dalia Leinarte (London: Routledge 2016), pp. 92-109 showed deep insight into complex processes.

Article Prize Jury: Mary Buckley and Cathie Carmichael

 

POSTGRADUATE PRIZE

Awarded jointly to Lara Green, for the paper 'Feliks Volkhovskii, Transnational Networks, and Terrorist Propaganda, 1890-1914' and Sarah Dorr, for the paper 'The elite-level demonstration effect of the Arab Spring in Kazakhstan: 2005-2015'.

Postgraduate Prize Jury: Sarah Badcock, Melanie Ilic and Claire Shaw

Olena Palko wins BASEES Postgraduate Prize, 2016

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BASEES is delighted to announce that the Postgraduate Prize, 2016 (to be awarded at the 2018 Annual Conference) will go to Olena Palko (Birkbeck, University of London) for her article "Between Two Powers: The Soviet Ukrainian Writer Mykola Khvyl'ovyi" in Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 64 (2016), H. 4, S. 575–598. The jury's citation:

Olena Palko’s study of ‘Soviet Ukrainian Writer’ Mykola Khvyl’ovyi effectively challenges the existing historical and literary paradigm which seeks to classify prominent intellectuals as communist or nationalist. Palko’s central argument, that Khvyl’ovyi’s multifaceted identity as proletarian writer, Bolshevik and Soviet Ukrainian during the 1920s was complex but not contradictory, is compelling and lays the basis for a much more nuanced analysis of his life and literary legacy. This engaging and well-written article draws on available archival materials and original literary analysis, effectively integrated within a rich historiographical context. Palko’s study not only broadens our knowledge and understanding of Khvyl’ovyi and his work, but also provides many useful observations about ‘national intellectuals’ in the early Soviet period. Therefore, it is a deserving winner of this year’s BASEES Postgraduate Prize.

Jury: Andrea Gullotta, University of Glasgow and Kelly Hignett, Leeds Beckett University

The Postgraduate Prize for the best scholarly article by a postgraduate student was established by decision of the annual general meeting of the Association in April 2013.

Jakub Beneš wins George Blazyca Prize for 'Workers and Nationalism'

BASEES is delighted to announce that the George Blazyca Prize, 2016 (to be awarded at the 2018 Annual Conference) will go to Jakub Beneš (University of Birmingham) for Workers and Nationalism: Czech and German Social Democracy in Hapsburg Austria, 1890-1918 (Oxford University Press, 2016). The jury's citation:

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Jakub S. Beneš’s book, Workers and Nationalism: Czech and German Social Democracy in Habsburg Austria, 1890-1918, addresses the issues of nationalism, socialism and ‘national indifference’ in the Austrian half of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the turn of the twentieth century. Beneš takes issue with Hans Mommsen’s argument that Czech Social Democrats adopted nationalist politics because the party leadership pandered to petty bourgeois elements. He directs our attention, rather, to the grass roots, where a transnational, socialist movement fighting exclusion from political society on class grounds gradually switched focus, once the vote had been won, to a struggle against exclusion on the grounds of national minority status. In the process, social democracy split along ethnic lines, because neither side understood the concerns of the other. As Beneš insists and illustrates, with copious and vivid evidence from Czech and German memoirs, newspapers, pamphlets and popular literature, this distinctly working-class variant of nationalism was, by the time of the First World War, a mass movement; the opinions of party leaders were irrelevant.

Jury: Prof. Nigel Swain, University of Liverpool and Prof. Anne White, SSEES, University College London 

The George Blazyca Prize for scholarly work of high quality in East European studies was established by decision of the annual general meeting of the Association in April 2006 in recognition of the outstanding contribution to its field of study made by the late George Blazyca.

Andy Willimott wins Alexander Nove Prize for 'Living the Revolution'

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BASEES is delighted to announce that the Alexander Nove Prize, 2016, to be awarded at the 2018 Annual Conference, will go to Andy Willimott (University of Reading) for Living the Revolution: Urban Communes and Soviet Socialism, 1917- 1932 (Oxford University Press, 2016) The jury's citation:

In Living the Revolution, Andy Willimott takes an almost entirely unknown topic and makes it his own, turning what could have been a traditional ‘thesis book’ into something of real lasting value. This fine, energetic piece of scholarship offers a genuinely new perspective on the revolutionary developments of the 1920s by making a compelling case for the importance of the much neglected urban commune movement. It strikes a convincing balance between stressing the agency of the commune activists – aptly characterized as ‘those who tried to be the change they wanted to see in the world’ - and the increasing control imposed by the party-state. Willimott’s impressive command of his sources enables him to expand the scope of his conclusions beyond his field of specialism and to make a major contribution to revitalising the study of early Soviet Russia. He is a worthy winner of this year’s Nove Prize.

Jury: (Prof. Stephen Hutchings, University of Manchester and Prof. Peter Waldron, University of East Anglia, Advisor: Prof. Stephen Smith, University of Oxford)

The Alexander Nove Prize for scholarly work of high quality in Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet studies was established by decision of the annual general meeting of the Association in March 1995 in recognition of the outstanding contribution to its field of study made by the late Alexander Nove.

CFP - REGIMES AND SOCIETIES IN CONFLICT: EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA SINCE 1956 September 13-14 2018, Uppsala University

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The Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University and the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies invite proposals for panels and papers for a two-day conference to be held at Uppsala University in September 2018 with the theme ‘Regimes and Societies in Conflict: Eastern Europe and Russia since 1956’.

Over the last 60 years Eastern Europe and Russia have been the scene of immense political, social and cultural upheaval. This conference provides the opportunity to reflect on the changes in the region that have led from Stalinist dictatorships to the very varied polities of contemporary Eastern Europe and Russia.

Proposals for panels and papers are invited in any area of Eastern European and Russian Studies relevant to the theme: proposals are especially welcome from postgraduate research students and young scholars. To propose a panel or a paper you will need to fill in the electronic proposal form at www.uppsala-basees.org

There are separate forms for  panels and for individual papers.

The deadline for proposals is March 31, 2018.

Enquiries about the conference are welcome at uppsalabasees@gmail.com

Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University and the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies

Arsenii Roginskii: A Farewell. By Rose Glickman

One dreary Leningrad day in the winter of 1976, I went home to my room in the dormitory on Shevchenko and found a strange young man sitting on my bed. Brave soul, I thought.  Or foolhardy? In those years Russians were not keen to advertise their friendship with foreigners. But Senya Roginskii didn’t give a hoot. In the many years of our deep friendship I watched him violate all the rules of basic survival in the USSR.   Memorial, the jewel in Senya’s crown, was preceded by years of “samizdat.” Using a library card he got for allegedly researching Plekhanov, he was combing the archives for the evidence of Soviet chicanery, especially the kind that sent his father into the Camps and into prison where he died.  That very library card was the “violation” which the Soviet government used to send Senya as well to the Gulag for 4 years.   

Senya held a regular Friday night “salon.” If I close my eyes I can see myself getting off the metro at Park Pobeda, and walking through the park to his apartment on Ulitsa Gagarina where the most interesting people in Leningrad gathered—all, of course, dissidents.  Some of them, like Senya, subsequently became leading activists in the post-Soviet civil/human rights movement, connected in various ways to Memorial.   How lucky I was to have Senya as my guide through the intricacies of Soviet life as well as a faithful and generous friend.  How lucky Russia is to have had such an avatar of courage, intelligence and integrity: a guiding light through Soviet and post-Soviet times.  Russia is poorer for his death, as are all the friends he leaves  behind.  Слава тебе, Сеня!

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Creator: Stephan Röhl. This image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

BASEES Members Share Their Recollections of Arsenii Roginskii

There have been many obituaries in the newspapers and social media of Arsenii Roginskii since his death in December 2017. These emphasise different aspects of his life and work: his birth in Velsk in Arkhangel oblast, the death of his father in exile, the impact on him of the events of 1968, his own arrest and detention for his samizdat activities, his co-founding of Memorial which under his leadership embarked upon the work of documenting and memorialising the gulag and Stalin terror.  Because of Memorial, and notwithstanding the current assaults it is having to endure, Russia will not been allowed to sweep the past under the carpet and survivors of the Repression and the relatives of its victims know that their sufferings will not be forgotten.    

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(Image: Stephan Röhl. This image is licensed under Creative Commons License.)

For those of us engaged in the academic study of the USSR, the death of Arsenii Roginskii is also the loss of a brilliant historian and agenda-setter for investigative research.  The Memorial archive have proved to be a fundamental resource for researchers across the social sciences, history and the humanities. Those of us who were privileged to meet Arsenii know that he was very generous with his time and always open to new research projects.  I first met him in 2009 shortly after a ban on my visiting the Russian Federation imposed in 2007 (associated with the breakdown of a joint research project with the Russian Prison Service) had been lifted.  I had spent my time “out in the cold” using the information in the Spravochnik: Sistema Ispravitel’no Trudovykh Lagerei v SSR 1936-1960 that he edited with Nikita Okhotin, to draw a series of maps plotting the distribution of camp HQs for an interactive website.  I made an appointment to see Arsenii  to check that Memorial was comfortable with what I had done, before the site went live. To this day, I remember his almost child-like excitement when I showed him a computer animation of the founding and dissolution of camps; he clapped his hands, jumped up and called in everyone from the outer office to come and have a look – not an easy task as his office was small and overflowing with books and papers.  Arsenii shortly afterwards came to the BASEES conference for further discussions about mapping the gulag. I recall that he spent most of his time in the Fitzwilliam bar, giving his time to answering question for a succession of old and new acquaintances. 

It occurred to us in BASEES that many of our members must have recollections they would like to share  of Arsenii Roginskii or who would like to record their debt to the work of Memorial. We are starting the ball rolling with these recollections of Rose Glickman (Russian Factory Women: Workplace and Society: 1880-1914) who knew Arsenii from her student exchange days.  Any members who want to add their recollections please send them to me president@basees.com and we will post them here.   

 

Arsenii Roginskii: A Farewell.   By Rose Glickman

One dreary Leningrad day in the winter of 1976, I went home to my room in the dormitory on Shevchenko and found a strange young man sitting on my bed. Brave soul, I thought.  Or foolhardy? In those years Russians were not keen to advertise their friendship with foreigners. But Senya Roginskii didn’t give a hoot. In the many years of our deep friendship I watched him violate all the rules of basic survival in the USSR.   Memorial, the jewel in Senya’s crown, was preceded by years of “samizdat.” Using a library card he got for allegedly researching Plekhanov, he was combing the archives for the evidence of Soviet chicanery, especially the kind that sent his father into the Camps and into prison where he died.  That very library card was the “violation” which the Soviet government used to send Senya as well to the Gulag for 4 years.   

Senya held a regular Friday night “salon.” If I close my eyes I can see myself getting off the metro at Park Pobeda, and walking through the park to his apartment on Ulitsa Gagarina where the most interesting people in Leningrad gathered—all, of course, dissidents.  Some of them, like Senya, subsequently became leading activists in the post-Soviet civil/human rights movement, connected in various ways to Memorial.   How lucky I was to have Senya as my guide through the intricacies of Soviet life as well as a faithful and generous friend.  How lucky Russia is to have had such an avatar of courage, intelligence and integrity: a guiding light through Soviet and post-Soviet times.  Russia is poorer for his death, as are all the friends he leaves  behind.   Слава тебе, Сеня!

Memorial's Arsenii Borisovich Roginskii dies at 71

 (Photo: © A.Savin, Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo: © A.Savin, Wikimedia Commons)

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of Arsenii Borisovich Roginskii historian, human rights activist and supremely honest and courageous man. I am sure that all BASEES members will join with me in conveying our sympathy to all his colleagues in NGO Memorial, his friends and family. He will be sorely missed.

Judith Pallot, President of BASEES.

Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) welcomes new Fellows

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On Thursday, 14 December 2017, BASEES President Prof Judith Pallot attended the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) President’s lunch at The Royal Society of Edinburgh when new Fellows were welcomed. BASEES had nominated three scholars for membership of the AcSS, including Prof Bill Bowring who is shown here receiving his certificate from Professor Sir Ivor Crewe, FAcSS. The other two BASEES members who are new fellows but we’re unable to attend are professors Vera Tolz and Peter Waldron. Congratulations!

BASEES STATEMENT ABOUT THE TRIAL OF YURI DMITRIEV

Yuri Dmitriev is an exceptional scholar of Stalinist repression, and his pioneering methods of locating and identifying the graves of victims have helped him to make a substantial contribution to that important field of historical research. He is a senior member of ‘Memorial’.

Yuri was arrested in December last year, and is on trial in the Republic of Karelia (RF) on serious charges not related to his research. BASEES has no wish to pre-empt legal process, but it notes that Memorial, and international human rights organisations have raised grave concerns about the methods used in the investigation by law enforcement agencies in the Republic of Karelia and the conduct of the trial which is taking place in closed session. Yuri Dmitiriev has been held on remand and denied bail and his legal team have serious questions about the nature of the prosecution’s evidence that have not been answered.

The prosecution of Yuri Dmitriev has come at a time when a media campaign against ‘Memorial’ has been gaining momentum. This campaign has included reports on the Dmitriev case that breach the principle of the presumption of innocence before trial. Colleagues in Russia are convinced that Yuri Dmitriev has been targeted because his research concerns aspects of Soviet history that opponents of academic freedom would prefer to see suppressed.

BASEES prizes the freer atmosphere for research collaboration with colleagues in the Russian Federation that has become possible during the past twenty-five years and, for this reason, have followed developments in the Dmitriev case with concern. BASEES will continue to monitor development and bring them to the attention of the Association’s members.

Obituary: Yevgenii Yevtushenko

Yevgenii Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko, Russian poet (18 July 1933 – 1 April 2017)

 Yevtushenko in the 1970s. Image © Simon Franklin

Yevtushenko in the 1970s. Image © Simon Franklin


One of the oddest documents in my desk is an un-headed, un-stamped A4 sheet, hastily typed and with scraggy handwritten corrections. Dated 14 July 1983, it is addressed to the customs officials at Sheremetevo airport. Dorogie tovarishchi (dear comrades), it begins. Today, it says, my friends from Britain arrive at 17.00. Today in the Olympic complex my 50th-birthday concert begins at 19.00. Please let my friends through vne ocheredi (without queuing), so that they won’t be late. Signed, Yevgenii Yevtushenko. So many aspects of this seem bizarre in retrospect: that anybody might seriously write such a note to customs officials; that customs officials could be expected even to recognize, let alone pay any attention to, a personal note bearing the unverified signature of a poet; that a poet would be performing at an Olympic-sized arena. Most bizarre of all: this actually worked. Only in the late Soviet era. Only Yevtushenko.

Why did all this not seem so odd at the time? Why was the mere name enough to circumvent normal border controls? Why was the huge arena packed? Yevtushenko has had many reputations. In the West he was and is most often treated as a voice of the Thaw, as the poet of Babii Yar and Nasledniki Stalina. Among post-Soviet intellectuals he was often regarded superciliously as the tame Soviet semi-dissident, serving the regime that he purported to criticize. Both attitudes are political, though often voiced by people who affect to despise the political contamination of literary values.

Neither assessment meant a great deal to the throng of his fans at the Olympic complex.  They wanted the mesmeric performance, his peculiar style of declamatory lyricism that in other contexts, or from anyone else, might have seemed merely bombastic. Two poems were printed in the leaflet serving as a programme, and for me they represent Yevtushenko better than either ‘The Bratsk Hydro-Electric Station’ (Bratskaia GES) or ‘The Tanks Roll Through Prague’ (Tanki idut po Prage). I can still hear him caressing the air and his audience with the almost indecently lush assonances and alliteration of the refrain of ‘Sleep, my beloved’ (Liubimaia, spi…):

И море всем топотом,         And the waves ever bustling,
И ветви – всем ропотом,     And the boughs all rustling,
и всем своим опытом –       And memories hustling
пёс на цепи,                        And the dog on its chain,
и я тебе ­– шепотом,             I tell you, whispering,
потом полушепотом,            And then half-whispering,
потом уже – молча:             Then already unspeaking,
“Любимая, спи…”                “Beloved one, sleep…”

The other poem – ‘White snow falling’ (Idut belye snegi) - gets more air-time now in Russia. Its form is classic elegy, in quiet stanzas of restrained two-foot anapaestic lines: nature eternal and repetitive and impervious; reflections on mortality, on his own mortality, and on remembrance; and, laced into the fabric of the poet’s persona, Russia. This becomes clear in the second half of the poem:

Идут белые снеги,                    White snow falling
как во все времена,                 As it has in all times,
как при Пушкине, Стеньке        In Pushkin’s and Stenka’s,
и как после меня,                     As it will after mine;

Идут снеги большие,                Heavy snow falling
аж до боли светлы,                  So bright it brings pain,
и мои, и чужие                         Sweeping others’ traces
заметая следы.                        Sweeping mine away.

Быть бессмертным не в силе,   I cannot be immortal
но надежда моя:                      But hope is mine:
если будет Россия,                   If Russia survives,
значит, буду и я.                       Then so will I.

Yevtushenko was global in his curiosity and ambition, Soviet in his sense of the historical moment, Soviet also in the ways in which he tends to be framed; so it is almost shocking to see here the directness of his declaration of an essential Russianness as the core of his identity and aspiration.

In an age when almost nobody from the Soviet Union travelled, Yevtushenko travelled everywhere, knew everybody. He reckoned he had visited over seventy countries. He was translated into over eighty languages. He met Kennedy, Castro, Neruda. He was perhaps unworthily proud of all of that. But he also had the gift of generous attentiveness, no matter who he was with. Talking with people about their recollections of Yevtushenko, I have been struck by how vivid, and how generally warm, are their memories even of the briefest of encounters. Among his memorable qualities was physical energy, his constantly mobile face, his restless mind. His creative output astonished in quantity and diversity. His poetry ranged from intimate lyrics to grand quasi-epic cycles. He was a novelist, film actor, film director, a published photographer. He was also an anthologist on the grand scale, constantly revising and enlarging ever more vast collections of Russian poetry. He probably wrote far too much, or at any rate published far too much; weak Yevtushenko pieces are easy to find. He became easy prey for parodists. Sneering remains easy; but he was an extraordinary talent nonetheless.

After a brief infatuation with elective politics in the Gorbachev Spring, Yevtushenko soon discovered the hard lesson that so often brings disillusionment for (and in) intellectuals: to speak to power is one thing; to have it – quite another.  He spent most of his last 25 years quietly, by his standards, based in Tulsa, where, by all accounts, he was a popular and conscientious lecturer, and where, on 1 April, he died. In his final few years he enjoyed fresh popularity in Russia, with readings, books, interviews, tours. He was the only one left, the only link to that age of what now looks like naïve optimism; a curiosity; a dinosaur; a national treasure.

One of Yevtushenko’s best known aphoristic lines was ‘A poet in Russia is more than a poet’ (Поэт в России – больше, чем поэт). Not any more. For better, for worse, he was the last. 

Professor Simon Franklin (University of Cambridge)

Translations of ‘Sleep, my beloved’ and ‘White snow falling
© BASEES Newsletter editorial team

Withdrawal of Russian from Undergraduate Programmes at the University of Bath - Representations by BASEES President, Prof Judith Pallot

 

Letter by BASEES President, Prof Judith Pallot, to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dame Glynis Breakwell, University of Bath

8 April 2017

I am writing to you, as President of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies, to express my Association's grave disquiet at the decision communicated to staff in the modern languages department on 20th March to withdraw Russian from the 2018/2019 undergraduate prospectus.

BASEES is extremely concerned about the loss of teaching posts in Russian at a time when the UK government has acknowledged that the national interest requires high levels of expertise in Russian language and Russian studies. The importance of the Russian Federation in contemporary global geopolitics has been re-emphasised over the past two years and the UK's ability to deal effectively with the Russian Federation needs continuing investment in the teaching of Russian language and Russian studies more generally at UK universities. Whilst we acknowledge that the decline in student numbers in the 2016/2017 is worrying, we strongly believe that the good reputation that Bath has for Russian language and literature teaching, the diversity of joint degree programmes its offers and its geographical location in an important hub for Russian and East European studies centred on the University of Bristol is, in fact, an excellent basis for expanding the in-take of students. The experience of other universities has shown that a well-targeted admission strategy that stresses the employment opportunities that flow from a degree in Slavonic and East European languages and society can yield very positive results. As we understand it, the replacement of the past few years has put the burden of maintain recruitment on mainly part-time and junior staff which no doubt has contributed to the drop off in recruitment.

The University of Bath has a good reputation in the national Russian and East European Studies community for producing high calibre students, some of whom proceed onto higher degrees. Ending language teaching at the undergraduate level inevitably will damage the prospect of recruiting at the post-graduate level. In short, by withdrawing Russian from the undergraduate prospectus the University is effectively withdrawing its support for higher learning in the area of Russian and East European Studies, in which it has an established and strong reputation.

The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies believes that the action on the part of the University of Bath proposals is misguided and fails to recognise the contribution that its scholars have made to the field of Russian and East European Studies over many years. We urge you to put reconsider the decision to eliminate Russian language teaching and instead embark on discussions, in which the Association would be pleased to participate, about how to restore the numbers applying for Russian and to strengthen further the broad field of Russian studies in the University.


Yours sincerely,
Professor Judith Pallot
(President of BASEES)

Letter from Veljko Vujacic, provost of the European university at St Petersburg

Dear Colleagues,

I was deeply moved by the level of support that the European University at St. Petersburg received from our colleagues at the BASEES conference last weekend and I am grateful for being able to make a presentation about EUSP. I am writing this because our foreign colleagues keep asking us how they can help. We think that collective letters addressed to the government institutions will have no, or little, effect.  Instead, we believe that colleagues who are concerned about the future of EUSP would help most by doing one of several things listed below:

1.      Those who hold Russian passports and have official registration in Russia write official letters to one or all of the following: The Ministry of Education, the office of the Prime Minister, and the Governor’s office in St. Petersburg.  So long as every such letter contains the name and passport/registration data of the author has, by law, to be answered within 30 days. If you know colleagues and have friends who can do this for us we would appreciate it greatly.

2.      Write op-eds or social media articles/blogs highlighting the positive value of the EUSP in terms of its scientific and scholarly/educational achievement.  Please refrain from a critique of the central government, particularly the administration of the president which has been on our side.

3.      Western colleagues can lobby important official such as vice-chancellors, provosts, or very well internationally known professors (even Nobel prize winners) to give lectures and help us position the EUSP as a leading institution in Russia. The Russian press and government take note of such prestigious visitors and this can help us greatly.

4.       Your professors can apply to take part in our conferences, for example the one on the concept of dignity in June: https://eu.spb.ru/en/announcements/17364-dostoinstvo-kak-istoricheskoe-ponyatie-i-tsentralnaya-kategoriya-nashego-vremeni

5.        You can donate books to our university, writing “we support the EUSP” on them;

With best wishes,

Veljko Vujacic

Provost EUSP

BASEES statement on the Central European University in Budapest

The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies has been following with deep concern the situation that has been developing with respect to the Central European University in Budapest.   The Association stands firmly with all our academic colleagues, the University’s past and present students and people of Budapest who have taken to the streets and airwaves protesting the proposed legislative changes to the University’s status.

Since its foundation in 1991, the CEU has been committed to the defence of academic freedom, non-partisan intellectual enquiry and the highest standards of teaching.  The University has taken its place alongside the leading higher educational institutions in Europe producing scholars who have had a pivotal role in setting the research agenda across disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.  Its academic leadership in Hungary and the wider European community is evidenced by its success in securing highly competitive European Research Council grants and in the prestigious awards made to its researchers in fields as various as medieval studies, network and cognitive science.   A particular strength of the CEU is its internationalism; it has brought together scholars at all levels from countries across the globe, including professors and lecturers and students from up to 117 different countries.  

The CEU programmes are both internationally accredited and certified by appropriate Hungarian authorities and we are convinced by the evidence the University has presented   that it has complied in full with all Hungarian laws. It is frankly inconceivable that the parliament would knowingly set out on a path to destroy this precious achievement of the past twenty-five years.  The proposed amendments to Act CCIV on National Higher Education by damaging the CEU will have negative repercussions on Hungary’s international academic reputation and its relationships with European and North American partners.

Below there are links that describe in detail the proposed legislation and the ways that BASEES members can led their support to the University:  

www.ceu.edu/category/istandwithceu

www.ceu.edu/node/17842

You can also sign the petition in support of CEU and help spread the word among your colleagues and all those concerned with educational freedom 

www.change.org/p/hungarian-national-assembly-save-the-central-european-university

Judith Pallot

President of BASEES

BASEES Statement on the THE EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY AT ST. PETERSBURG

It is with deep regret and incredulity that we have learned of the decision of Rosobrnadzor in the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation to withdraw the license to teach from the European University of St Petersburg (EUSP).  The consequence of this decision is that the University will henceforth have to cease instruction and other educational activities.  By this action, the Ministry of Education is extinguishing one of the shining beacons of higher education and research excellence in the Russian Federation. 

Since its foundation in 1994, the European University of St Petersburg has developed Masters and Doctoral programmes designed for the very best of the students from universities across the Russian Federation and abroad. The reputation of EUSP has grown precisely because of its record for producing the next generation of scholars across the humanities and social sciences.  The University’s students have benefited from the high quality research-driven instruction by Professors and teaching staff, among whom are many whose scholarship is internationally-recognised.  The result has been that the European University of St Petersburg has rightfully claimed a place alongside the world’s leading universities.

The decision to revoke the European University’s teaching license inflicts a blow on the cause of quality higher education in the Russian Federation, from which the whole sector will suffer. It also harms the reputation of academic scholarship in the Russian Federation more broadly by landing a fatal blow on the numerous varied and innovative programmes of international cooperation and collaboration in research, teaching and learning that have been painstakingly built over the past two decades. International scholarship has been enriched at all levels by these programmes, which have acted as rare forums for genuine and disinterested exchange of views, particularly important given the troubled geopolitical times in which we live.    

Scholars working at the EUSP have been frequent visitors to BASEES conferences and workshops, participating in panels and roundtable discussions, and we have benefited from their exceptional record of publishing in the areas of the Association’s interest.  This year, among others, we welcome Boris Kolonitsky, author of a definitive work on Kerensky and Veljko Vujacic, on nationalism and ethnicity in Yugoslavia and Russia.

At the present time all BASEES can do is express our solidarity with the staff and students of the European University in St Petersburg who are working to overturn the death sentence that the decision of Rosobrnadzor has pronounced on this unique seat of learning. I am sure that there are many BASEES members who are keen to contribute to the international protests surrounding the fate of the European University of St Petersburg. Because of the sensitivities associated with taking action at the present time, any letters should in the first instance be addressed to Dr Oleg Kharkhordin, the University’s Rector.    

Judith Pallot

BASEES President

Vera Sheridan receives the Order of Merit - Knight's Cross by the President of Hungary

BASEES is pleased to announce that Dr Vera Sheridan, the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies, Dublin City University has been awarded the Order of Merit - Knight's Cross by the President of Hungary.  This is in recognition of Vera’s contribution, as a 1956 refugee, to Hungarian scholarship in Ireland and as well as actively supporting students with their studies.  Vera was one f the delegates to the BASEES regional conference that took place in Budapest in December of last year where she delivered a paper on the reception of refugees form the 1956 Revolution in the Republic of Ireland.

 Dr Vera Sheridan at the BASEES Regional Conference in Budapest in December 2016

Dr Vera Sheridan at the BASEES Regional Conference in Budapest in December 2016

Laurien Crump wins George Blazyca Prize for 'The Warsaw Pact Reconsidered'

BASEES is delighted to announce that the George Blazyca Prize, 2015 (to be awarded at the 2017 Annual Conference) will go to Laurien Crump (Utrecht University) for her book The Warsaw Pact Reconsidered: International Relations in Eastern Europe, 1955 – 1969 (Routledge, 2015). The jury's citation:

 

The Warsaw Pact Reconsidered offers us an original and nuanced insight into what had been previously understood to be a mere instrument of Soviet domination. This book demonstrates the fallacy of this supposition, using a detailed and very impressive body of multi-archival data. The author reveals the extent to which the Pact was disrupted by internal turmoil, disagreements, tensions and the downright incompatibility of preferences, all of which rendered the organisation, at times, barely coherent. Indeed, so revealing are some of the details the book provides, that it may not be far-fetched to say that it will transform our understanding of the functioning of the Soviet bloc, certainly from the security perspective. Moreover, The Warsaw Pact Reconsidered is a thoroughly pleasurable read.  At times, it resembles a political thriller, enticing the reader to work through it at a cracking pace. The book certainly deserves a wide audience insofar as it offers insights that go well beyond those which might typically be expected from a book on the defunct security alliance. While all the books submitted for the 2015 Blazyca Prize were strong contenders for one reason or another, the judges readily agreed that Laurien Crump’s fine monograph was a worthy winner.

Jury: 

Prof Kataryna Wolczuk (University of Birmingham)

Prof Stephen Hutchings (University of Manchester)

The George Blazyca Prize for scholarly work of high quality in East European studies was established by decision of the annual general meeting of the Association in April 2006 in recognition of the outstanding contribution to its field of study made by the late George Blazyca.

Svetlana Stephenson wins Alexander Nove Prize for 'Gangs of Russia'

BASEES is delighted to announce that the Alexander Nove Prize, 2015 (to be awarded at the 2017 Annual Conference) will go to Svetlana Stephenson (London Metropolitan University) for her book Gangs of Russia: from the Streets to the Corridors of Power (Cornell University Press, 2015). The jury's citation:

Svetlana Stephenson’s new book, Gangs of Russia: from the Streets to the Corridors of Power, charts the rise and partial decline of gangs from the Soviet period to the present. It continues her long-term project on Russian society ‘from below’. As before, Stephenson recommends that ‘we move our sociological gaze from exclusion to incorporation’. Previously, she showed that homeless people are not a separate category, but ordinary people who have become homeless. Now she argues that ‘Russian gangs are not alien to society; they are firmly embedded in it’.  This meticulously researched and vivid book is based largely on interviews with gang members in Kazan, but covers the whole of Russia, within an international context. Like all Stephenson’s work, it demonstrates a very special degree of insight and imagination, based on deep erudition.

Jury: Prof Anne White (SSEES, University College London) and Prof Peter Waldron (University of East Anglia)

The Alexander Nove Prize for scholarly work of high quality in Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet studies was established by decision of the annual general meeting of the Association in March 1995 in recognition of the outstanding contribution to its field of study made by the late Alexander Nove.