Understanding Russia: Insights into Contemporary Russian Culture and Politics
The recent crisis in Russia’s relations with the United States and the European Union has aggravated the tendency to view Russia through the prism of stereotypes. Contemporary Russian Federation is often seen as a re-incarnation of the Soviet Union, a country with authoritarian political culture single-handedly ruled by Vladimir Putin, pursuing an expansionist foreign policy agenda and engaged in a new Cold War against the West. While there is a grain of truth behind each of these stereotypes, they hardly advance our understanding of the complex social, cultural and political developments that underlie the current crisis, drive Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, and influence the daily realities and perspectives of millions of Russians.
The summer school invites you to go beyond clichés by looking at some of the key aspects of life in contemporary Russia. Rather than attempting a superficial overview of the standard ‘Russia A to Z’ topics, we will delve deeply into selected themes that illustrate the internal diversity of the Russian society and the multi-dimensional, often contradictory nature of recent transformations. Each day will focus on a specific aspect of societal developments, leading up to a discussion of current political issues – both domestic and international. Classes will be conducted by leading experts based in Estonia, Russia and other countries, each of them possessing unique first-hand insights based on years of conducting internationally acclaimed research.
The school is hosted by the Centre for EU-Russia Studies and Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies at the University of Tartu. Founded in 1632, the UT is the leading research university in the New Europe (Times Higher Education 2018). The school is held in the three main cities of Estonia: week 1 in the capital Tallinn, week 2 in the university town of Tartu and the weekend in the border city of Narva. The format of the school combines lectures and seminars with study trips, site visits, and a rich cultural and social programme.
The school’s curriculum will focus on the following broad themes:
- revisiting the transition: Perestroika and the origins of post-Soviet Russia;
- re-assessing the Homo Sovieticus: memories, legacies and national identity;
- beyond the classics: science, education and popular culture;
- invented tradition and social change: religion and gender in today’s Russia;
- rebranding the nation: semiotic narratives, cultural representations and mega-events;
- Russia beyond Moscow: from Siberia to Islam to the ‘Russian world’;
- demystifying ‘the new cold war’: a fresh look at Russia’s power.
Admission to Understanding Russia: Insights into Contemporary Russian Culture and Politics
- Online application form
- Motivation letter (up to 1.5 page)
- Transcript of academic records
- Copy of the passport
Applications are evaluated based on
Motivation letter (up to 1.5 page) that demonstrates the applicant’s motivation to participate, explains his/her expectations about the programme and how participation in the summer programme is connected with his/her studies and interests, and how the applicant plans to use the gained experience and knowledge in the future.
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