CEES Events 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.