Events & Seminars 2022

The CEES Seminar Series is supported by the MacFie Bequest, named after Professor Alec MacFie, Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at the University from 1945 to 1958. 

Enquiries: Dr Huseyn Aliyev 


Seminars in 2022-23


Wednesday 14 March, 17:00-18:00

Alessandro Iandolo, University College London (UCL) 

Hetherington bld, Room 129

Arrested Development: The Soviet Union in Ghana, Guinea, and Mali, 1955-1968 

Arrested Development examines the USSR's involvement in West Africa during the 1950s and 1960s as aid donor, trade partner, and political inspiration for the first post-independence governments in Ghana, Guinea, and Mali. Buoyed by solid economic performance in the 1950s, the USSR opened itself up to the world and launched a series of programs aimed at supporting the search for economic development in newly independent countries in Africa and Asia. These countries, emerging from decades of colonial domination, looked at the USSR as an example to strengthen political and economic independence. Based on extensive research in Russian and West African archives, the book explores the ideas that guided Soviet engagement in West Africa, investigates the projects that the USSR sponsored “on the ground,” and analyzes their implementation and legacy. 


Monday 6 March, 16:00-17:00

Bhavna Dave, SOAS, University of London

Adam Smith bld, Room 711

Russia’s War on Ukraine: Constraints, Options and Opportunities for Kazakhstan  

Russia's war on Ukraine, which is turning into a protracted conflict, has posed critical foreign policy challenges to all states bordering Russia and in what it sees as its 'near abroad'. As the second largest state in Eurasia sharing a 7000km long border and complex historical, geographical, economic, and cultural linkages with Russia, Kazakhstan is facing complex challenges in its relationship with Russia. These challenges are also pushing Kazakhstan to explore newer options, uphold its sovereignty and agency, and boost its image and performance as a responsible international citizen. The lecture will focus on how Kazakhstan is refashioning its ‘multivectoral’ foreign policy by affirming its close strategic partnership with Russia, displaying firm commitment to Russia-led multilateral organizations (CSTO, EAEU), offering humanitarian support to Ukraine, declaring its opposition to Russia-backed separatist regions in Ukraine, and cultivating a 'strategic neutrality' in the conflict by steering away from any criticism of Russia. It will also discuss how the Tokayev regime is seeking to balance between various domestic voices critical of Russia’s actions (‘nationalist’ groups as well as ‘pro-West’ or ‘liberals’) and a broad spectrum of opinions critical of Western support to Ukraine and sympathetic to Russia.  


Wednesday 8 February, 16:00-17:00

Prof. Dr. Ivan Dodovski, University American College Skopje

Adam Smith bld, Room 711

To minimise the importance of ancient Macedonian history and to celebrate the Slavonic origin of ethnic Macedonians was a principal characteristic of the officially sanctioned discourse in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. This perfectly fit into the Yugoslav project of ‘brotherhood and unity’ under Tito. However, with the breakup of the Yugoslav Federation in the early 1990s, some Macedonians embarked upon a new definition of their ethno-genesis: though still maintaining the view about an amalgamation of ancient Macedonian and Slavonic roots, they started placing the emphasis upon the former, rather than the latter. This national narrative which focuses on the ancient Macedonian heritage was meant to meet a twofold need: to create legitimacy vis-à-vis adverse neighbours, and to ease the sense of prolonged internal instability. This paper considers some of the causes that gave rise to the revised narrative of Macedonian national identity by illustrating its literary and theatrical refractions in several fiction and dramatic works produced in the 1990s and 2000s which had a wider resonance with the Macedonian public.


Wednesday 16 November, 16:00-17:30

Leyla Sayfutdinova

Adam Smith bld, Room 706

From “Black City” to “White City” and back: oil industry and spatial inequalities in Baku, Azerbaijan  

This paper explores the representations of the spatial change in and around the “Baku White City”- a redeveloped industrial site that used to be known as “the Black City”. The official narrative on the White City focuses on cleaning, purification, and physical “whitening” of the industrial pollution, represented by dark petroleum sediments. However, these narratives coexist with nostalgic memories of the Soviet “Black City” as well as the re-framing of the areas around White City as “Black”. These binary labels are based on industrial imaginaries and include references to labour and life of leisure. Based on ethnographic research in the White City and its surroundings and analysis of social media discussions of the area, this study argues that despite the transformational rhetoric, the redevelopment project reproduces and perpetuates fundamental spatial inequalities and structural dependence on oil in Baku, Azerbaijan.  


Tuesday 08 November, 16:00-17:30

David Siroky

Hetherington bld, Room 133

Defection Denied: A Study of Civilian Support for Insurgency in Irregular War

How can researchers obtain reliable responses on sensitive issues in dangerous settings? This study elucidates ways for researchers to use unobtrusive experimental methods to elicit answers to risky, taboo, and threatening questions in dangerous social environments. The methods discussed help social scientists to encourage respondents to express their true preferences and to reduce bias, while protecting them, local survey organizations, and researchers. Grounded in an original study of civilian support for the jihadi insurgency in the Russian North Caucasus in Dagestan, it suggests that sticky identities, security threats, and economic dependence curb the ability of civilians to switch loyalties and helps explain why civilians fall into the arms of abusive insurgents. The presentation also briefly discusses future opportunities to use these techniques to probe sensitive topics in dangerous settings, where some of the most exciting and significant research in the social sciences is yet to be done.


Monday 31 October, 16:00-17:30

Harry R. Gorham

Hetherington bld, Room 118

Russia's Combined Arms Operations in Ukraine

This discussion would focus on Russia's combined arms performance to date with an assessment of their ability to synchronize maneuver warfare / elements (tanks, engineers, infantry) with fires (to include aviation and joint capabilities - UASs) in that conflict. This will also include a comment/critique on Russia's sustainment limitations which have had a significant impact on their combined arms operations in that conflict.



Seminars in 2011-22


Wednesday 25 May, 16:00-17:30

Dr Matthew Blackburn

Adam Smith building, Room 916

The Transformation of Russia’s Political System 2012-2022: Structures and Elites; Identity Politics and Foreign Relations

The decision to invade Ukraine not only represents the crossing of a deadly Rubicon; it is tempting to see it as the culmination of ten years of political transformation in Russia, a decade marked by political restructuring, elite reconfiguration and ideological hardening. This lecture unpacks the key elements in the radicalisation of the Kremlin by examining: (1) policies and reforms; (2) elites and institutions; (3) ideological actors and identity politics. The point of departure is 2011-12, when key developments were set in motion. Political transformation is interpreted in relation to external dynamics (geopolitics and foreign relations) alongside internal factors (regime stability and legitimacy) related to Russia. The process of transformation is examined across two periods: the post-Crimean consensus (2014-2018) and Putin’s third term (2018-2022). Dr Blackburn argues that Russia remains an electoral authoritarian system (albeit in a securitised ‘emergency’ mode) and represents a certain type of Limited Access Order (North et al 2012). 


Tuesday 22 March, 16:00-17:30

Jo and Mike Seaman

Adam Smith building, Room 916

Book presentation: "Roses Down the Barrel of a Gun, Georgia: Love and Revolution” by Jo Seaman

Jo Seaman (former British Council Director to Georgia) will give an introduction to the book, make personal reflections on the events leading to Georgia’s Rose Revolution of 2003 and on the importance of soft diplomacy from the perspective of a practitioner.  Her husband, Mike Seaman (former Senior Political Officer at the British Embassy in Georgia), will give observations on political events.


Wednesday 2 March, 16:00-17:00

Joseph A. Smith

Adam Smith building, room 711 

Staying Power: Accounting for the Failure of New Political Movements in Georgia 

It has been nearly a decade since the peaceful, democratic transfer of power that brought the Georgian Dream party into government in Tbilisi. In this time, a number of colourful and promising new movements have entered the Georgian political party system, none of which have so far managed to create a serious challenge to the ruling party. This talk looks at the typology of party formation and development in the post-Soviet space, as well as the peculiarities of Georgia's recent political history in order to account for the ephemerality of new political movements within the Georgian party system. The speaker, Joseph Alexander Smith, ran as an independent candidate in Municipal Elections in Tbilisi in 2017, and was a founding member of the new political party 'Lelo - For Georgia', before leaving in 2020.  


Wednesday 23 February, 16:00-17:00 on Zoom

Dr Ivana Bajic-Hajdukovic, Independent researcher/founder of PhD Mentoring Plus

“Can You Run Away From Sorrow?”: Mothers Left Behind in 1990s Belgrade

Meeting Recording:

Access Passcode: 64%K8+dy

The focus of the book “Can You Run Away From Sorrow?” is on elderly mothers whose adult children had left Belgrade because of the war in the first half of the 1990s. It documents mothers’ sacrifices and gives them a voice to articulate their isolation, loneliness and grief for the loss of their children. Migration was a way into a better life for the children, but it was also an end of motherhood for many a mother who couldn’t see her son or daughter for years. “Can You Run Away From Sorrow?" is a testament to mothers' selflessness—letting their children go even when they painfully missed them and needed them. As such, this book transcends geographical and disciplinary boundaries. It reaches out on a human level to explore what it means to be a mother in a world that is simultaneously more connected and yet more fragmented than ever.


Wednesday 19 January, 15:00-16:00 on Zoom

Ryhor Nizhnikau, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

"Catch-2020? Explaining Russia’s policy towards Belarus after the Revolution"

What explains Russia’s Belarus policy? The Belarusian Revolution and Russia’s post-revolutionary intervention raised questions about Russia-Belarus relations and Russia’s post-Soviet policy. Following the domestic crisis, Moscow was widely expected to use a momentum to increase its political and economic positions in the country, replace Lukashenko or even incorporate the country. In contrast, Kremlin’s unconditional support has been instrumental for the preservation of the incumbent regime. 

This talk will systematically look at the Russia’s Belarus policy and explain the evolution of Moscow’s approach to Belarus as well as the post-Soviet space in general. It will argue that Russia’s response to the Belarusian crisis is both rational and value-driven and is primarily embedded in the existing model of the Belarus-Russia relations. As long as the current model satisfies Russian interests and values, Russia’s policy would maintain the status quo unless it would be beyond Russia’s capacity.

Watch the recording on Youtube

Research Events

Conference of Political Historians of the Post-War Soviet Union

Wednesday 8 – Friday 10 June 2022

Room 253, Gilbert Scott Building, University Cloisters

Conference Organiser – Dr. Michael Loader, CEES

Commentary by Professor Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan

This conference of Political Historians of the Post-War Soviet Union is the first-ever gathering of its kind, bringing together the world’s leading scholars in Soviet political history to the University of Glasgow. Twenty-three speakers will present their cutting-edge research on the political history of the USSR. Several papers address aspects of how Soviet politics is connected to Russia’s War on Ukraine. The aim is to form a research network, foster collaboration, and discuss ways of promoting entry into the field. All experience levels are represented including PhD students, early career scholars and distinguished professors


Webinar: Gaelic and Sámi: Sharing Knowledge on Promotion of Indigenous Languages

Wednesday 16 February 2022, 10.30-13:00

This is the first of two webinars organised as part of the project Gaelic and Sámi: Promoting Mutual Learning in the Protection of Indigenous Languages, conducted in partnership with Várdduo Centre for Sámi Research, Umeå University, Sweden.

The past three decades have seen significant developments in policies and practices geared to promotion of the Gaelic and Sámi languages. The year 2022 also marks 30 years since the drafting of the Council of Europe European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which (since 2000 in Sweden and 2001 in Scotland) provides a common framework committing signatory governments to resolute action in this field.

This seminar will encourage comparative reflection on these developments, by addressing the following questions: what have been the main achievements relating to Gaelic and Sámi language promotion and what kinds of cultural, social, and economic added value have been derived from this? What are the most pressing issues and challenges in the two language contexts at the present time, and how might these be addressed? How effectively do the respective institutional frameworks and relevant bodies (Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Sámediggi) function in terms of promoting the languages and giving voice to the two linguistic communities?


Rob Dunbar, Professor, Chair of Celtic, University of Edinburgh.

Anders Östergren Njajta, Language Consultant, Sámediggi.

Johan Sandberg McGuinne, Teacher in Sámi and English, Lycksele kommun.

Ulla-Karin Sarri, Chair of the Sámi Language Committee (Sámi Parliament of Sweden)

Jim Whannel, Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Craig Willis, Researcher, European Centre for Minority Issues, Flensburg


10.30-11.30: Opening statements by panellists and initial Q&A

11.30-11.45: Break

11.45-13.00: Roundtable discussion (panellists and online participants)

This webinar will be followed by a second one on Thursday 3 March, 'Gaelic and Sámi: Digital Aspects of Indigenous Languages Learning' (details coming soon). 

These events form part of a wider project comparing current institutional arrangements for the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic and Sámi cultures, with a focus on languages. They will assess the suitability of these arrangements in relation to challenges faced by speakers of these Indigenous languages and discuss possible new or supplementary approaches that could help to realise the potential cultural, social, and economic added value of linguistic diversity.

The project as a whole is supported by the Scottish Government Arctic Connections Fund 2021-22 and arises out of the activity of the COST Action European Non-Territorial Autonomy Network (ENTAN – It seeks to bring together academic experts and practitioners from Scotland, Sápmi, Sweden and beyond to boost public awareness and support knowledge exchange and mutual learning on best-practices to promote Indigenous-languages.