Concluded projects

Building Research Excellence in Russian and East European Studies at the Universities of Tartu, Uppsala and Kent (UPTAKE)

Grant holder: Dr Piret Ehin
Funded by: Horizon 2020 Twinning
Duration: 2016-2019
Funding amount: 429,510.00 EUR

Abstract: The goal of the project is to increase research productivity and excellence and to promote international visibility and integration of three European universities – Tartu in Estonia, Uppsala in Sweden, and Kent in the United Kingdom — in the field of Russian and East European Studies by creating a dynamic, comprehensive, open and sustainable framework for cooperation and transfer of knowledge.

Website: www.uptake.ut.ee

Patterns and management of ethnic relations in the Western Balkans and the Baltic States

Grant holder: Dr Vassilis Petsinis
Funded by: Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Individual Fellowships
Duration: 2017-2019
Funding amount: 136,582.80 EUR

Abstract: This study will compare the management of ethnic relations in two Western Balkan states (Serbia and Croatia) with the management of ethnic relations in two Baltic republics (Latvia and Estonia). It will concentrate on: (a) the legal and institutional infrastructures on minority rights; (b) the impact of domestic and external actors on the management of ethnic relations. This research is placed inside the framework of the EU’s enlargement. Latvia and Estonia have been EU member-states since 2004. Croatia joined the EU in 2013 whereas accession negotiations with Serbia commenced in October 2011. By conducting research on two different post-Communist settings (two post-Yugoslav and two post-Soviet states) this comparative project will provide new insights in conflict resolution and the management of ethnic relations in the new and aspiring EU member-states.

Network for Developing the European Studies in Caucasus (DESCNet)

Grant holder: Olga Bogdanova
Funded by: Erasmus+ Jean Monnet
Duration: 2015-2018
Funding amount: 289,125.83 EUR

Abstract: Network for Developing the European Studies in Caucasus (DESCNet) is designed to enhance the level of European Studies in the Caucasus. At its heart the goal is to create a scholarly association (“Association of European Studies for the Caucasus”, AESC). The rationale for the DESCNet stems from a very uneven level of European Studies in the countries’ HEIs, and a fragmented level of exchange and mobility among students, researchers and teachers in the Caucasus. Activities of the network are divided into three areas: teaching, research enhancement, and outreach.

Website: http://descnet.eu/

Political Community in Flux: Identity, Sovereignty and Democracy in a Transforming World

Grant holder: Prof Eiki Berg
Funded by: Estonian Research Council (Institutional research grant)
Duration: 2014-2019
Funding amount: 539,400.00 EUR

Abstract: This research theme examines the reconfiguration of the constructs of sovereignty, identity and democracy (SID), both in discourse and political practice, in the context of the transformation of political community. It deconstructs the SID nexus while revealing its embeddedness in particular forms of political community; shows how discursive constructions of SID are used to legitimize specific political realities; explores conflict between codified norms and contemporary political practice; demonstrates how ambiguity surrounding SID gives rise to instrumental use of legal norms; and proposes solutions to dilemmas arising from regional integration. This research provides insights into a range of controversial issues including secession, humanitarian intervention, democracy promotion, clashes over history and memory, policies aiming at transitional justice, the functioning of representative institutions, and global debates about democracy.

Russian National Identity in a Comparative Context: Towards an Intersubjective Identity Database

Grant holder: Prof Viacheslav Morozov
Funded by: Estonian Research Council (Personal research grant)
Duration: 2016-2019
Funding amount: 206,400.00 EUR

Abstract: The aim of the project is to create a cumulative long-term interpretivist dataset on Russian national identity and to use this data in comparative research at the juncture of constructivist and quantitative approaches. It is part of a larger project “Making Identity Count”, whose scope includes all major great powers. Creation of the dataset implies empirical reconstruction of the central categories of national identity for a number of years, starting with the period of 1950-2010 and eventually extending the time frame back to 1810. The project will produce a series of National Identity Reports, an Intersubjective National Identities Dataset and the Intersubjective Database Coding Book. The theoretical ambition behind the project is to combine interpretivist sensitivity to intersubjective reality with a commitment to reliable and replicable generalizations and to make a decisive step toward bridging the gap between quantitative and interpretivist research in International Relations.

Perceptual Spaces of Party Politics: An Inductive Study of European Party Systems

Grant holder: Dr Martin Mölder
Funded by: Estonian Research Council (post-doc grant)
Duration: 2017-2019
Funding amount: 66,424.00 EUR

Abstract: The usual measurements of people’s perceptions of ideological profiles of political parties ask them to locate the latter on pre-given dimensions like the left-right dimension or versions thereof. However, we know that political spaces are not only multidimensional, but also changing over time. This complexity and dynamics are especially relevant in the current political context, where populist anti-establishment parties are gaining ground in many European states. When we measure people’s understanding of politics with such a priori measures that do not reflect empirical reality, our understanding of what happens in politics suffers. The aim of the current project is to demonstrate a tool for measuring perceptions of party spaces, that does not distort that space through assumptions about its shape or content, but allows to inductively reconstruct how people form spatial representations of politics. An analysis of political spaces in Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark will demonstrate how this method functions across various contexts.

Varieties of Democracy: measuring democracy in the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and Russia

Grant holder: Prof Vello Pettai
Funded by: Estonian Research Council (Personal research grant)
Duration: 2015-2018
Funding amount: 172,800.00 EUR

Abstract: In the scholarly world today a revolution is going on in the empirical study of democracy. In the space of just 10 years, no less than 7 new indices of democracy have been developed and tested with vast arrays of data and analysis. This project aims to integrate the Baltic states and Russia into the most extensive and elaborate of these endeavors: the Varieties of Democracy (or V-Dem) database. Using the V-Dem dataset, the project proposes a series of cutting-edge research questions concerning the evolution of democracy in the Baltic states, Eastern Europe and Russia. Moreover, the project envisions the creation of a regional V-Dem center as part of its sustainability plan. All three project participants have already been involved in V-Dem data collection and network activities. The application is about developing the exploratory infrastructure for a qualitatively new type of democracy research, and for placing Estonia within the center of this research.

Hosting OSF Eurasia Program Fellows at the University of Tartu (I)

Grant holder: Piret Ehin
Funded by: OSF Eurasia Programme
Duration: 2016-2018
Funding amount: 65,891.31 EUR

Abstract: The aim of the project is to offer research supervision, professional development opportunities and international experience to PhD students and researchers from the Eurasia region (defined as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) at the University of Tartu. The broader purpose of the program is to develop a network of researchers studying politics and policy in the Eurasia region.

The Politics of Public Administration Reform in Democracy Promotion: An Interpretive Policy Analysis of the EU’s Eastern Partnership Program

Grant holder: Kristina Muhhina
Funded by: Estonian Research Council (Personal research grant)
Duration: 2015-2017
Funding amount: 63,420.00 EUR

Abstract: This research will help to understand the prospects and limitations of public administration reform (PAR) assistance in the EU’s democracy promotion efforts by carrying out an interpretive policy analysis of the Union’s Eastern Partnership Program (EaP) in Georgia and Moldova. The research features a discursive inquiry of PAR in the EaP policy framework guided by the following research questions: (1) How is the meaning of PAR constructed through various discourses of democratisation interacting between the donor and the aid recipients? (2) What are the implications of different meanings of PAR for democracy promotion design and action? (3) What are the mechanisms for bridging different interpretations of PAR for meaningful democratization? The aim of the research project is to engage with theoretical debates related to PAR, democratization and democracy promotion, to advance methodological innovation in reform assessment strategies, and to improve policy design.