Current research projects

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?


Hosting OSF Eurasia Program Fellows at the University of Tartu

Grant holder: Dr Piret Ehin
Funded by: OSF Eurasia Programme
Duration: 2018-2020
Funding amount: 166,972.00 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.