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.    


(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 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


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!


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:

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:

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

Judith Pallot

President of BASEES


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.


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.







For some years the BASEES committee has been discussing the possibility of holding a regional conference outside the UK in addition to the annual in Cambridge.  The reasoning behind such a geographical extension of our activities is that it would help to cement the role the annual conference plays in bringing together scholars from across Europe.  Rising travel costs, visa difficulties and timing constraints have meant that young scholars, in particular, have found it difficult to participate in international conferences and to present their work to scholars outside their immediate community.  The conference that BASEES ran in Budapest hosted by the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade was the first, modest, step towards a BASEES regional conference becoming an annual or biannual event. We would welcome any expression of interest from colleagues in Europe, West of the Ural.

Dr Janos Rainer

Dr Janos Rainer

The conference in Budapest was themed on the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Revolution and it consisted of two days of panels and round tables put together by BASEES and IFAT. Participants from higher education institutions in six countries took part.  IFAT showcased the research of its graduate students working on different aspects of 1956 and invited participants in the events of 1956 to talk about their experiences. BASEES was able to draw on members working on different aspects of Hungarian and Soviet politics, history and sociology to discuss the context and impacts of 1956 and was responsible for inviting the two keynote speakers.  The first was Dr Janos Rainer, leading commentator on the the 1956 Revolution in Hungary. The focus of his presentation was on remembering the Revolution and he drew attention to the dangers of post-1989 re-writing of Hungarian history.

Dr John Schwarzmantel

Dr John Schwarzmantel

Round Table.  The social impacts of 1956

Round Table.  The social impacts of 1956


The second keynote was by political theorist Dr John Schwarzmantel, who reminded the audience of impact on the Hungarian Revolution on the thinking of West European communist parties. These two keynote lectures are available on the following links:

Dr Janos Rainer

Dr John Schwarzmantel




Details of all panels and round tables are included in IFAT’s report of the conference on its website at:

Interview with Dr Madeleine Reeves on Publishing a First Book with an Academic Press

Interview with Dr Madeleine Reeves on Publishing a First Book with an Academic Press

The BASEES Newsletter asked Madeleine Reeves, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester and author of Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Cornell University Press, 2014), 2016 winner BASEES Alexander Nove Prize, to share her experiences and recommendations about placing a first book with an American University Press. 

Brexit - Applying for EU Research Funding

Dear BASEES member,

The referendum vote was, to say the least, disappointing. In the last newsletter, written before the referendum, I drew attention to the potential negative impact of withdrawal from the EU of BASEES members' access to EU funding for research. There has been recent press comment about the impact of Brexit  on research funding and BASEES will be participating in lobbying parliament to ensure that funding gaps that emerge are filled.   In the meantime, it is important that we continue to submit applications for EU funding in order both to send a message to the UK government about our continuing engagement with colleagues and HE institutions in the Europe and to send a message to our EU partners that we remain fully engaged with EU research programmes. 

The link below to League of European Research Universities press release on cooperation with the UK in light of Brexit - please read and send on to other colleagues who might not be members of BASEES

It provides the following reassurances:  

 (i) the UK's status as a full, participating member of the Horizon 2020 programme has not changed as a result of the referendum vote – existing project grants and contracts will be honoured unless or until advised otherwise. UK institutions also remain fully eligible to apply to all funding schemes of Horizon 2020, for which UK funding is committed until 2020;

(ii) high-level links have made it clear, from top levels in Brussels, that there should be no discrimination against UK applicants for EU funding.

Professor Judith Pallot

President BASEES
Christ Church


Fieldwork and Visas

Make sure you have the appropriate visa

Two recent incidents are a reminder to BASEES members planning to visit the Russian Federation of the importance of being in possession of the appropriate visa. We have been informed of two cases, both in Nizhnyi Novgorod, of foreign nationals giving lectures and seminars being apprehended by the migration service. The most recent incident was last week when Arthur House – the editor of the on-line journal The Calvert Journal and the Junket – was arrested and found guilty of violating the visa regime. Arthur was on a multiple-entry business visa that he had used on previous occasions to give lectures but the court found that this visa did not give him the right 'to deliver a lecture' or to take part in ‘other educationalactivities’. He was fined 4000 rubles, asked to leave the country within five days and faces a visa ban for five years. This follows an incident earlier in the month in Nizhnyi Novgorod when two Norwegian nationals were fined and asked to leave the country for participating in a five-day workshop in Lobachevsky State University where they gave presentations to students of journalism on human rights. They were also on business visas.

BASEES President's Statement on the Referendum on Membership of the Union

BASEES and the Referendum on Membership of the European Union

The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies is a professional association of scholars from Universities and other places of higher learning dedicated to furthering knowledge of the countries and regions of Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation and other states of the former Soviet Union.  The Association is deeply worried about the prospect of United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and unreservedly concurs with the view of the majority of University Vice-Chancellors that withdrawal from the European Union would do irrevocable harm to academic research.  A vote to leave Europe would restrict the access of British scholars to European funding opportunities, make cross-border collaborations within Europe more difficult, endanger the recruitment and the retention of top academic talent in our field, and discourage applications for post graduate degrees from European students with knowledge of Slavonic and East European languages.  

Throughout the period of the Cold War BASEES took an active part in debate about economic, political and geopolitical developments in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  It has continued to contribute to East-West debate in the years since 1989-1991 and the input individual members has been influential in policy-making.  The United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union has enhanced BASEES’s ability to fulfil its mission of fostering and strengthening a community of scholars with a unique combination of linguistic and analytical skills needed to give a full account, including to government, of the history, culture and social, economic and political development of the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.  In recent years, BASEES has become the European hub for Slavonic and East European studies with its annual conference attracting participants from across the European Union, the countries of the former Soviet Union and beyond.  Were the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, the Association would have difficulty maintaining this leadership position, which would have serious knock-on effects on its standing among the wider global community of scholars with an interest Russian, East European and Eurasian studies.  

It is in the interests of all BASEES members who are eligible to vote in the up-coming referendum to cast a vote in favour of remaining in the European Union. Please take the time to do so. 

Professor Judith Pallot

BASEES President

George Blazyca Prize 2014, Awarded at the 2016 Annual Conference

George Blazyca Prize, 2014


Awarded at the 2016 Annual Conference


James Dawson

(University College London)


Cultures of Democracy in Serbia and Bulgaria: How Ideas Shape Publics

(Ashgate, 2014)



 This is a very original book which presents a vivid account of the political culture in two cities of South-East Europe. By conducting focus groups, interviews and participant observation in Niš and Plovdiv, Dr Dawson was able to identify and analyse common discourses about politics which underpin the ‘public sphere’. These help explain the persistence of a liberal strand of public opinion in Serbia which Dawson claims to be nearly absent in Bulgaria. The book skilfully shows how political cultures originating in the communist period are constantly reproduced in discussions among ordinary citizens, and how they both support but also contradict messages coming from the media and politicians. The book makes a great contribution to reinvigorating debates on democracy and democratisation in post-communist countries by the focus away from institutions and by bringing ‘the people’ in. The book sets new standards for political ethnography and illuminates the pivotal role of the cultural dimension.



Prof Anne White (SSEES, University College London)

Dr Kataryna Wolczuk (University of Birmingham)


The George Blazyca Prize was established by BASEES in recognition of the outstanding contribution to its field of study made by the late George Blazyca. 

Alexander Nove Prize, 2014 Awarded at the 2016 Annual Conference

Alexander Nove Prize, 2014

Awarded at the 2016 Annual Conference


Madeleine Reeves

(University of Manchester)


Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia

(Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2014)



Drawing on extensive and carefully designed ethnographic fieldwork in the Ferghana Valley region, where the state borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikizstan and Uzbekistan intersect, Madeleine Reeves develops new ways of conceiving the state as a complex of relationships, and of state borders as socially constructed and in a constant state of flux. She explores the processes and relationships through which state borders are made, remade, interpreted and contested by a range of actors including politicians, state officials, border guards, farmers and people whose lives involve the crossing of the borders. In territory where international borders are not always clearly demarcated or consistently enforced, Reeves traces the ways in which states’ attempts to establish their rule create new sources of conflict or insecurity for people pursuing their livelihoods in the area on the basis of older and less formal understandings of norms of access. As a result the book makes a major new and original contribution to scholarly work on Central Asia and more generally on the anthropology of border regions and the state as a social process.  Moreover, the work as a whole is presented in a lively and accessible style. The individual lives whose tribulations and small triumphs Reeves so vividly documents, and the relationships she establishes with her subjects, are as revealing as they are engaging. Border Work is a well-deserved winner of this year’s Alexander Nove Prize.


Prof Terry Cox (University of Glasgow)

Prof Stephen Hutchings (University of Manchester)

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.

BASEES Postgraduate Prize 2014

We are delighted to announce this year's winners of the BASEES Prize for the Best Scholarly Article by a Postgraduate Student. The prize has been divided between Gleb J. Albert for his article “‘To help the Republicans not just by donations and rallies, but with the rifle’: militant solidarity with the Spanish Republic in the Soviet Union, 1936-37” in European Review of History 21(4): 501-518. and Ilya Yablokov for his contribution to the article: Elisabeth Schimpfossl and Ilya Yablokov, ‘Coercion or Conformism? Censorship and Self-Censorship among Russian Media Personalities and Reporters in the 2010s’, Demokratizatsiya, 22 (2014): 295-312. The prize was awarded at the 2015 Annual Conference at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.


Gleb J. Albert (Co-Winner)

 (University of Zurich, Swizerland)


Albert, Gleb J. (2014) “‘To help the Republicans not just by donations and rallies, but with the rifle’: militant solidarity with the Spanish Republic in the Soviet Union, 1936-37” in European Review of History 21(4): 501-518.

Gleb Albert’s study of the involvement of Soviet volunteers – and Soviet public opinion more broadly – in the Spanish Civil War is an important, timely and intriguing contribution, well worthy of special mention. Mobilising newly available archival materials and a rich historiographical context, Albert embarks on a complex and careful historical sociology, delving into the motivations and objectives of Soviet citizens and Stalin’s emergent regime, and the often convoluted interactions between the two. He finds that “the responses ‘from below’ to the solidarity campaign with republican Spain present a paradoxical picture of internationalist engagement that was both in line and at odds with the official discourse of internationalism.” The result is a deeper understanding of the ways in which a regime’s development of an ideologically structured frame for both domestic and international affairs simultaneously empowers and constrains the state, by creating powerful, self-reinforcing incentives for citizens and elites. Indeed, in ways that the author may not have been able to anticipate at the outset, the article resonates in the present day and has significant implications for those seeking to understand the factors both causing and limiting current events in Russia and Ukraine.



Ilya Yablokov (Co-Winner)

(University of Manchester)

for his contribution to

Elisabeth Schimpfossl and Ilya Yablokov, ‘Coercion or Conformism? Censorship and Self-Censorship among Russian Media Personalities and Reporters in the 2010s’, Demokratizatsiya, 22 (2014): 295-312

This article’s main angle is a series of elite interviews with members of Russia’s state media stratum. This includes such notorious figureheads as Dmitrii Kiselev and Maxim Shevchenko, but also several rank-and-file reporters. While managing to unearth some choice quotes, it makes a very weighty contribution to contemporary understandings of the Russian media realm, dominant political discourses, national identity and Russian governance. The central claim is to challenge the (prevalent) idea that the state either actively forces reporters on federal television to promote pro-Kremlin views, or that pro-Kremlin views are the result of substantial self-censorship by journalists themselves. Quite the contrary: the article argues that reporters are active agents in shaping their own agendas; this is important in providing diverse and compelling TV which gains high ratings (even though such agendas broadly fit within limits set by the Kremlin). Therefore those that promote the dominant Kremlin discourses do so because they have chosen to do so, often with Messianic zeal and considerable cunning. They promote the notion of “adek­vatnost’” – best translated as the right (pro-state) instinct combined with adroit appropriateness and a portion of wiliness.  All in all this is a highly topical and relevant, as well as factually rich, article. It is engagingly written and compellingly argued and so, all in all is a thoroughly deserving winner.


Dr Sam Greene (Kings Russia Institute)

Dr Luke March (University of Edinburgh)