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About us

The Standing Group intends to represent a site for debating the restructuring of the post-Soviet space. It aims to gather academics and experts sharing a research interest in the multi-form archipelago controversially dubbed as “the former Soviet area”, that is, a varied group of countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia. It indeed focuses on a vast and composite area, whose cultural and political complexity needs to be further examined, studied, and investigated. Suffice it to consider how compound processes of democratization, nation-building, institution-building have been and are being in the countries considered, as well as the articulation of party systems and pluralist political orders, or the emergence of new cleavages in the variety of socio-political systems. Political analyses have indeed investigated the varied typologies of political regimes across the region, new ways of citizens’ socialisation and public engagement, the role mass media has played in shaping public opinion, or the features of leadership, the role of nationalisms and the relationship between identities and the public sphere. In addition, international and transnational dynamics deserve special attention when our gaze turns towards the former Soviet area. Russia’s revisionism and contestation of the so-called liberal international order call for scholarly inquiry to better understand possible and actual transformations of the global governance architecture and notions of multilateralism; alternative integration projects, the role and functioning of regional organisations (such as the Eurasian Economic Union, among others), the norms and practices they enshire and promote.

The creation of this Standing Group had resonated with a number of calls, across Europe, advocating for new scholarly sites to study the variegated facets of post-Soviet politics. Already in January 2015, the creation of a think tank was announced in Germany, for the study of Russia and the other former Soviet republics – as a sign of “acknowledgement that they are not infant democracies moving slowly but surely towards the West, but complex states driven by forces that are not fully understood” (Andreas Rinke, In response to Ukraine crisis, Berlin to launch new think tank, Reuters, January 27th, 2015). Few months later, a group of French scholars mobilized in the same direction, calling for “une nouvelle école de pensée stratégique sur la Russie” (Il est temps de refonder une école française de pensée stratégique sur la Russie, Le Monde.fr, June 2nd, 2015). By establishing this Standing Group we conveyed the belief that collective endeavours are needed to develop original ways of studying post-Soviet countries. One of the objectives of the Standing Group is thus to represent a forum for dialogue between area specialists and disciplinary scholars. The weakness and poorly disseminated political science research on Russia and the former Soviet countries in Italy has for a long time hindered the internationalisation of this scholarly community, its policy impact and media exposure.

Since its establishment, the Standing Groups has sought to contribute to consolidate an epistemic community engaged in innovative studies of former Soviet countries and societies – a group of scholars based in Italy, yet with a significant component of internationalisation. Its activities premise on the assumption that long-term historical dynamics as well as more recent developments require contaminations with different sub-fields of social and political studies, and an ongoing reflection on common conceptual grounds and vocabularies (i.e. post/former -Soviet, -socialist, -communist, “shared neighbourhood”, “near abroad”, “transition”, “Global East”, “hybrid” etc.).

STRUCTURE

The Standing Group consists of the members, a steering committee and two coordinators. The Standing Group meets in assembly once a year, on the occasion of the annual conference of the Italian Political Science Association (SISP). The coordinators shall remain in office for two years with the possibility of renewal by the Assembly.

OBJECTIVES

The Standing group aims to:

  • promote scientific debate on Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asian, involving scholars based at Italian institutions and abroad;
  • encourage collaborative research projects and networks among its members;
  • promote the debate about the role of area sensitivities in the political science community, reconsidering the way knowledge about the “post-Soviet” is produced, circulated and organized;
  • stimulate inter- and trans- disciplinary contaminations;
  • organize seminars, workshops, and national and international conferences;
  • survey the expertise in the field, also through mapping sites of knowledge production (research centers, departments etc.);
  • facilitate the circulation and dissemination of bibliographic and scientific information and initiatives;
    support the collaboration between scholars and media outlets, as well as between scholars and professionals, practitioners, and policy circles;
  • foster scientific partnerships and collaborations among universities across different countries.