2022-23 Conference


May 9 - 10, 2023

The European Studies Council (ESC) of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University invites proposals to the European Studies Graduate Fellows’ 4th annual international interdisciplinary conference, Beyond the ‘Communist Bloc’: New Approaches to Studying Europe, Russia, and Eurasia.

On May 9th and 10th, in celebration of Europe Day, a hybrid-format conference is scheduled to take place at Yale University, a prominent international center for the study of Europe and Eurasia and home to the MA program in European and Russian Studies. This Conference will bring together graduate students from across disciplines to discuss the most pressing challenges facing Europe, Russia, and Eurasia today.

Structural Violence and Its Implications on Security in Eurasia

  • Chair: Leyla Zuleikha Makhmudova, University of Sussex

Eurasia experiences acute conflicts and disruptions affecting the sovereignty of countries, stability of the sub-regional relations, and international sustainable development. Conflicts and disruptions, which are widely described by the international community as “localized”  “internal” outbreaks or emergencies and disasters, are evidently and overdue being articulated as outcomes of longer systemic processes. When framed as structural violence, it is more evident how they transform the geopolitical dynamics, challenge security responses and the idea of territorialization of nation-states. It is, in particular, manifested in the use of the military in regulating asymmetrical power. The panel discusses the implication of structural violence on security in Eurasia and challenges the scarcity of capacities of Eurocentric models and reductionism and orientalism of the methodological nationalism in analyzing conflicts, security emergencies, and interconnections of structural violence, armed conflicts, and anthropogenic threats to sustainable present and future of Eurasian territories and societies. The persistent paradigmatic marginalization of structural violence as a framework and conceptualization of armed conflict or emergency as a local outbreak hinders our understanding of the complex (in)formal regional affinities, cross-border relations and logistics, and (un)institutionalized transboundary socio-political, cultural, environmental aspects of “internal” emergencies, conflicts, and wars.

Recognizing colonial legacy processes and institutions in the geopolitics and development sector, and the respective low academic visibility of local decolonial intellectual praxis addressing the complexities of such processes and their impacts, this panel welcomes submissions with a focus on/from Central Eurasian countries.

Failing Peace: The Lasting Impact of Romanticism in Europe and Eurasia

  • Chair: Theresa Kauder, Yale University 

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, we propose to revisit the core concepts of the discourse of war and peace in the intellectual history of Europeand Eurasia. From Immanuel Kant’s plea for international legal standards in “Toward Perpetual Peace” (1795) to classical Eurasianism’s reframing of cosmopolitanism as a form of nationalism, we will discuss the political legacies of the romantic tradition in Europe and Eurasia to the present day. Our panel positions late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century thought as the source of our contemporary understanding of notions such as cosmopolitanism and nationalism, liberalism and conservatism, imperialism and colonialism – ideas central to current debates about the problems facing Europe and Eurasia that nonetheless remain deeply misunderstood. We argue that looking closely at these ideas as formulated by German and Russianromantics can productively illuminate their similarities with and deviations from contemporary usage, their often-overlooked idiosyncrasies, and the challenge of intercultural translation. Тracing such conceptual histories is crucial for understanding the geopolitical landscape of today, as “we still belongto the era [romanticism] opened up” (Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy).

Double Edged Sword: The Electoral Impact of EU Investment Policy

  • Chair: Ioannis Vergioglou,  ETH Zurich

The studies to be presented investigate the electoral effects of investment subsidies toward European regions. Using state-of-the-art causal inferencemethods and newly assembled electoral datasets, we show that investment subsidies have a substantial impact on national and European elections. Onthe one hand, large fiscal transfers create an infertile ground for eurosceptic parties, decreasing their electoral success. On the other hand, nationalgovernments are also able to claim credit for EU spending, as we find a significant incumbency advantage created by high levels of investmentsubsidies. Overall, generous subsidies paid by the EU budget are successful in fostering political support for the Union by hindering eurosceptic success,but may also be used as pork-barrel spending from national governments in certain cases. Drawing from the aforementioned insights as well as furtherempirical analysis of the policy’s economic impact, we propose an alternative institutional setup that would distribute funds more fairly and decreasenegative externalities.

Europe Facing the Revival of Realism: the Metamorphosis of a Giant Peacekeeper?

  • Chair: Iris del Pino García Saavedra, Complutense University of Madrid

Currently, the Kantian perspective by which the pacifist foundations that characterized the post-World War II period were built seems to be weakening,turning towards a so-called ‘Hobbesian wake-up call’ in which realism, which was pushed into the shadows after the turn of the century, is now emerging.Especially after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This has certain implications for those instruments whose vertebral axis continued to be purely Kantian,such as the European Union, since the apparent pessimistic future requires a metamorphosis that provides resilience. The priority now is not to establishbidirectional lines of cooperation through which we can ensure an interdependence that preserves non-confrontation. Rather, it is to reinforce ourautonomy in a context of coexistence rather than conviviality. This represents a turning point in the understanding of relations between states and thegoals of the international organizations we have in Europe. Are we at the beginning of a new international order, and will the Hobbesian perspective beconsolidated in Europe in decline of the Kantian one? If it does, will this paradigm shift favor European integration, or will it strengthen the role of statesin favor of national sovereignty? At this moment, addressing this question is necessary to explore the transformational changes that seem to beemerging in Europe.

Please direct any questions about the conference to escgradconferenceyale@gmail.com

 In the backdrop of Russia’s war against Ukraine, we are especially receptive to initiatives that further the decentralization and decolonization of the study of the former “communist bloc” of the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe, and Eurasia at large. 

The results of the selection will be communicated by March 20, 2023. The final papers should be 2,000 words (maximum) and will be due by April 17, 2023. Faculty discussants will be a part of the panels and will provide feedback for the selected papers. All papers of the conference will be published in an online journal of the conference proceedings. 

We are especially excited to collaborate and welcome proposals from graduate students from the institutions of The International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU).

We will be awarding modest monetary prizes to the best papers this year!