Current projects

National identity and Estonian-Russian relations: a longitudinal study of elite and mass discourses

PI: Prof Viacheslav Morozov
Funded by: Estonian Research Council
Project period: 2021–2025
Funding amount: 168,750.00 EUR

Relations between Russia and the Baltic states, Estonia in particular, have been an important testing ground for constructivist approaches in the discipline of International Relations. It has been demonstrated that the patterns of conflict and occasional cooperation have been determined by the dynamics of national identity on both sides. While existing studies focus on the national identity discourses of elites, this project creates comprehensive interpretivist datasets focusing on wider societal discourses. It is part of a global network ‘Making Identity Count’, whose scope so far includes only great powers. By adding Estonian data and expanding the already existing database on Russia, the project team re-assesses the bilateral relations based on a comparative analysis of the two countries’ identities through time. It identifies the circumstances under which popular views of national identity can impact foreign policy, which can be used in policy planning and risk assessment.

Raising civil society awareness in Belarus

Lead partner: University of Tartu
PI at the UT: Ms. Olga Bogdanova
Funded by: Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2020 – 2023 Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid to Eastern Partnership countries programme)
Project period: 2021-2023
Funding amount: 64,114.60 EUR

The aim of the project is to raise awareness about the principles of democracy, good governance and rule of law of Belarusian students and civic activists and develop their practical skills relevant for future employment or civil society activities. To achieve this, participants from Belarus will be able to benefit from online courses, workshops, and site visits. The project will also support the MA studies of two students from Belarus at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu.

Read more about the project here

Neighbourhood Enlargement and Regionalism in Europe (NearEU) 

Lead partner: University of Tartu
PI at the UT: Dr. Stefano Braghiroli
Funded by: Jean Monnet Module – Erasmus+
Project period:  2020–2023 
Funding amount: 39,996.60 EUR

The Jean Monnet Module “Neighbourhood Enlargement and Regionalism in Europe” (NearEU) aims to create new knowledge, tools, and resources related to the evolution of partners’ and candidates’ relationship with the EU and alternative models of regionalism. The project is coordinated by the University of Tartu and includes a network of partners from Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Montenegro, Poland, and Ukraine. Particular attention is devoted to the involvement of junior instructors and early stage researchers. The project foresees the creation of several courses, MOOCs and simulation exercises, hosting graduate conferences and study visits, as well publishing a wide set of didactical material and teaching aids, including an e-book on didactics of preparing and running simulation exercises. NearEU is also functional to the creation and the support of a new “European Union – Russia Studies” module within the framework of the master’s programme in “International relations and regional studies” at the J. Skytte Institute of Political Studies. 


When every act is war: Post-Crimea conflict dynamics and Russian foreign policy (WARU)

Lead partner: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
PI at the UT: Prof. Viacheslav Morozov
Funded by: Norwegian Research Council
Duration: 2020–2023
Funding amount: 7,113,000 NOK

The WARU project posits that we cannot adequately explain Russian foreign policy and Russia’s deteriorating relations with the West without understanding the specific conflict dynamics evolving between these two political entities. The project explores this proposition through case studies of Russia’s interactions with Norway, Estonia, Germany, NATO and the USA. It will provide an in-depth empirical study of how inimical rhetoric about the other party becomes seen as self-evident and unproblematic (a set of ‘rhetorical commonplaces’), making it appear natural, even necessary, to treat the other party as a threat. By applying and developing securitization theory and other epistemologically related contributions, the project will also conceptualize how rhetorical interaction between political entities contributes to conflict escalation.


Populist rebellion against modernity in 21st-century Eastern Europe: neo-traditionalism and neo-feudalism (POPREBEL)

Lead partner: University College London
PI at the UT: Prof Vello Pettai
Funded by: Horizon 2020
Duration: 2019–2022
Funding amount: 3,000,000.00 EUR

Abstract: POPREBEL is an interdisciplinary consortium of researchers focused on explaining and contextualising the recent rise of populism in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). While populism is a phenomenon that has now emerged in almost every democracy, we believe that regional and cultural-historical dimensions need to be considered in order to improve not only scholarly knowledge, but also policy recommendations. It is urgent for Western Europeans to look into the CEE mirror, just as it is urgent for the CEE region to understand itself. To this end, we will create a typology of populism’s various manifestations, reconstruct trajectories of its growth and decline, investigate its causes, interpret its meanings, diagnose its consequences, and propose policy solutions.


Delayed Transformational Fatigue in Central and Eastern Europe (FATIGUE)

Lead partner: University College London
PI at the UT: Prof Vello Pettai
Funded by: Horizon 2020 Marie Curie ITN
Duration: 2018–2021
Funding amount: 3,508,841.16 EUR

Abstract: The aim of FATIGUE is to develop theoretically and empirically robust explanations for the causes and consequences of rise of illiberalism and authoritarianism in post-communist Europe (and Europe more generally) with reference to the concept of ‘delayed transformational fatigue’. The project will seek to answer the following questions: i. Why do illiberal political discourses resonate with people in post-communist Europe? ii. With which types of people do illiberal discourses particularly resonate? iii. Under which social, economic and political circumstances are illiberal discourses most likely to gain traction? iv. How do illiberal political actors make their views of the world hegemonic? Which social, political and economic conditions of possibility enable such hegemonic worldviews to dominate political discourse?