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Early Stage Researchers (ESRs)

There are 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) within the FATIGUE programme.

ESRs Job Description
ESR1: Illiberal trends in incumbent parties and comparative democratic development in Central Europe (WP1)

Host University: UCL

Objectives: ESR1 will investigate Illiberal trends in incumbent parties and comparative democratic development in Central Europe. The research will investigate the development in illiberal directions of major parties which play or have played a leading role in government and deal both with political formations that present themselves as being on the (centre-) right and, where relevant, on the (centre-) left. The researcher may choose to narrow the topic through the choices of country, parties, period or sectors.

Expected Results: The research will demonstrate how incumbent parties’ illiberalism has intersected with and fed social demands and frustrations – broadly conceived as delayed transformation fatigue – and how such parties’ development and institutionalisation relate to processes of ‘backsliding’ and democratic regression.

Contribution to WP1: ESR1’s research will contribute to the aims of WP1 by demonstrating the political factors fuelling the ‘rise of the right’ and the different forms it can take.

Planned secondment: ESR1 will spend 10 months at Jagiellonian University and the Foundation Institute for Strategic Studies (FISS). The academic visit to Jagiellonian will enable the ESR to carry out fieldwork in a Central European state that has experienced one of the sharpest increases in illiberalism in the political sphere, and benefit from the supervision of Prof. Zdzislaw Mach, an expert in populism in Poland. The secondment at FISS will provide the ESR with hands-on experience in the field of democracy promotion, a core focus of the PhD.

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ESR2: The role of culture and tradition in the shift towards illiberal democracy (WP1)

Host University: Jagiellonian University

Objectives: ESR2 will investigate the social and cultural factors explaining the transformation of liberal into illiberal democracies. Particular attention will be paid to the traditionalism and dogmatic thinking connected, in some countries, to religious traditions, ethnic nationalism and xenophobia, which may be partly seen as a legacy of communist isolation and the past of a ‘closed society’.

Expected Results: ESR2’s research will demonstrate how the shift to the right has been legitimised with reference to safeguarding national and religious cultures and traditions.

Contribution to WP: ESR2’s research will contribute to the aims of WP1 by demonstrating the social and cultural factors fuelling the ‘rise of the right’ and the different forms it can take.

Planned secondment: ESR2 will spend 10 months at Charles University and Prague Civil Society Centre (PCSC). The academic visit to Charles University will enable the ESR to conduct fieldwork in a former communist ‘closed society’, which has experienced an increase in xenophobic discourse among the state’s political actors, and benefit from the supervision of Dr Jiří Vykoukal and Dr Maria Asavei, experts in the cultural politics of memory. ESR2 will also undertake a secondment at PCSC to gain hands-on experience in the civil society sector and, in particular, to learn how to understand and counteract increased xenophobia, a core focus of the PhD.

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ESR3: Illiberal democracy in Russia and right-wing politics Europe (WP1)

Host University: University of Tartu

Objectives: ESR3 will investigate the impact of increasing illiberalism in Russia on social and political developments in post-communist states and/or the role of Russia in fostering ties with radical right populist movements and political parties across Europe.

Expected Results: ESR3’s research will demonstrate the impact of illiberalism in one state on the social and political situation in another.

Contribution to WP: ESR3’s research will contribute to the aims of WP1 by demonstrating the interrelationships between right-wing political forces across borders.

Planned secondment: ESR3 will spend 10 months at Jagiellonian University and the Foundation Institute for Strategic Studies (FISS). The academic visit to Jagiellonian will enable the ESR to conduct fieldwork on the impact of illiberalism in Russia on the latter’s relations with Poland, one of the most tense inter-state relationships in the region. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Prof. Zdzisław Mach, an expert in radical right populism. ESR3 will also undertake a secondment at FISS to gain hands-on experience in the field of democracy promotion, with a particular emphasis on international affairs and security, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR4: The politics of memory in the post-socialist city (WP2)

Host University: Jagiellonian University

Objectives: Recognising the importance of the past in offering points of identification and ideological material for political forces and for nation-building, ESR4 will investigate how political actors in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe deal with the physical manifestations of the past, such as communist-era memorials, street signs and architecture.

Expected Results: ESR4’s research will demonstrate the impact of tangible manifestations of the past Exploration on issues relating to transitional justice, democracy, populism, (n)ostalgia or right-wing movements.

Contribution to WP: ESR4’s research will contribute to the aims of WP2 by demonstrating the links between communist material culture and transitional justice, democracy, populism, (n)ostalgia or right-wing movements.

Planned secondment: ESR4 will spend 10 months at the University of Belgrade and at the Jewish Community Belgrade/ Jewish Historical Museum (JOB/JHM). The academic visit to the University of Belgrade will enable the ESR to conduct fieldwork in a post-communist city, the material culture of which bears witness to its long history of nationalist conflict. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Prof. Nikola Samardžić, an expert in East European history. ESR4 will also undertake a secondment at JOB/JHM to gain hands-on experience in the museum sector. In particular, the ESR will learn how specific minorities (in this case Jews) are able to resist hegemonic memorialisation, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR5: The politicisation of commemorative practices in Eastern Europe (WP2)

Host University: Charles University

Objectives: ESR5 will investigate commemorative practices in Central Europe, South East Europe and the post-Soviet area with a view to identifying similarities and differences in the ways in which politicians and historians interpret the events being remembered. The ESR can choose to focus on the memory of World Wars I and II, the annihilation of Jews and Roma, post-war migration, or communism and post-communism.

Expected Results: The research will demonstrate, through the study of commemorative practices, how different meanings can be attached to single historical events for social and political purposes and show how these practices are ‘packaged’ for popular consumption, thus helping explain the role and function of memory in contemporary politics.

Contribution to WP: ESR5’s research will contribute to the aims of WP2 by demonstrating the links between memory and feelings of justice/injustice, thereby helping us understand the impact of different interpretations of the past on the quality of democracy in the present.

Planned secondment: ESR5 will spend 10 months at UCL and the British Library (BL). The academic visit to UCL will enable the ESR to conduct fieldwork in the rich historical archives of the British Library and Public Records Office and also benefit from the supervision of Prof. Jan Kubik, an expert in illiberalism in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as historians of Eastern Europe at UCL. ESR5 will also undertake a secondment at the BL to gain hands-on experience in fashioning the past through exhibitions, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR6: The impact of conflicting memories on ethnic relations (WP2)

Host University: University of Tartu

Objectives: ESR6 will examine how memories of the distant and recent past differ between ethnic majorities and minorities and what effect these differences have on ethnic relations. Tensions between ethnic communities and neighbouring states often arise over differing interpretations of past events or injustices. How these tensions are instrumentalised or alleviated will be the focus of this ESR.

Expected Results: ESR6’s research will demonstrate the various means by which collective memories are instrumentalised for social and political purposes.

Contribution to WP: ESR6’s research will contribute to the aims of WP2 by analysing the links between history and politics in the post-communist world.

Planned secondment: ESR6 will spend 10 months at Corvinus University of Budapest and at Minority Rights Group Europe (MRGE). The academic visit to Corvinus will enable the ESR to conduct fieldwork in a country which has experienced perhaps the most marked rise in illiberal politics, driven in part by xenophobic attitudes towards the country’s minorities as well as by perceived injustices experienced by Hungarian minorities in neighbouring states. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Dr Miklos Hadas, an expert in post-communist identities. ESR6 will also undertake a secondment at MRGE to gain hands-on experience in the civil society sector, with a particular emphasis on minority rights protection, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR7: The determinants of economic populism in Central and Eastern Europe (WP3)

Host University: UCL

Objectives: ESR7 will investigate the internal and external factors leading to the recent surge of economic populism across Europe as a whole, where the austerity measures triggered by the 2008-10 economic crisis and the legacies of corruption provide fertile ground for politicians to use populist economic policies to further their own political ends. The ESR will be consider the particular case of the states of Central and Eastern Europe, many of which are still dealing with the economic legacies of the post-communist transformations.

Expected Results: The research will demonstrate the ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ of populist economic policies and identify similarities and differences between Western Europe, on the one hand, and Central and Eastern Europe, on the other.

Contribution to WP: ESR7’s research will contribute to the aims of WP3 by demonstrating how economic populism emerged and also provide the empirical context for the research of ESR8 and ESR9.

Planned secondment: ESR7 will spend 10 months at Corvinus University of Budapest and at Transparency International (TI). The academic visit to Corvinus will enable the ESR to conduct fieldwork in a country, the politicians of which have successfully utilised the  language of economic populism to promote their social and political agendas. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Prof. István Benczes, an expert in political economy. ESR7 will also undertake a secondment at TI to gain hands-on experience in the civil society sector, with a particular emphasis on corruption monitoring, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR8: The impact of economic populism on growth and convergence (WP3)

Host University: Corvinus University of Budapest

Objectives: ESR8 will research the impact of economic populism on the long-term growth and convergence of the Central and East European economies (compared with West European EU member-states), investigating the effect of populist policies on long-term economic sustainability, which will pose a potentially serious problem when the EU cohesion funds dry up.

Expected Results: ESR8’s research will demonstrate the effect of economic populism on growth and convergence and allow policy makers to develop empirically grounded responses to the phenomenon of economic populism.

Contribution to WP: Building on the findings of ESR8’s research on the causes of economic populism, ESR8’s research will contribute to the aims of WP3 by demonstrating the consequences of economic populism.

Planned secondment: In the period M25-36 ESR8 will spend 10 months at UCL and the European Bank for Reconstruction and development (EBRD). The academic visit to UCL will enable the ESR to compare the research conduced on CEE with data relating to a major Western EU member-state. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Dr Julia Korosteleva, an expert in transition economics. ESR8 will also undertake a secondment at the EBRD to gain hands-on experience in the field of international economic development, conducting research into and producing reports on macro-economic developments in contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR9: The impact of economic populism on inequality (WP3)

Host University: Corvinus University of Budapest

Objectives: ESR9 will research the economic impact of populist politics on inequality in Central and Eastern Europe (compared with West European EU member-states), investigating the ways in which individuals or social groups in one or more post-communist states have benefited or lost out as a result of populist policies.

Expected Results: ESR9’s research will demonstrate the effect of economic populism on inequality and allow policy makers to develop empirically grounded responses to the phenomenon of economic populism.

Contribution to WP: Building on the findings of ESR9’s research on the causes of economic populism, ESR8’s research will contribute to the aims of WP3 by demonstrating the consequences of economic populism.

Planned secondment(s): ESR9 will spend 10 months at UCL and the European Bank for Reconstruction and development (EBRD). The academic visit to UCL will enable the ESR to compare the research conduced on CEE with data relating to a major Western EU member-state. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Dr Elodie Douarin, an expert in transition economics. ESR8 will also undertake a secondment at the EBRD to gain hands-on experience in the field of international economic development, conducting research into and producing reports on economic inequality in contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR10: Anti-Semitism in the former Yugoslavia (WP4)

Host University: University of Belgrade

Objectives: ESR10 will investigate the increase in anti-Semitism since the end of the Cold War and the Yugoslav civil wars. The ESR can narrow the topic by focusing on a specific state, region or city of former Yugoslavia or by conducting comparative research into the anti-Semitic trends in the former Yugoslav states and other European post-communist states.

Expected Results: ESR10’s research will demonstrate the influence of nationalism, radical political groups on the extreme left and right, historical revisionism vis-à-vis WWII collaborators, the influence of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in the post-Yugoslav states on increased anti-Semitism.

Contribution to WP: ESR10’s research will contribute to the aims of WP4 by demonstrating how the loss of ‘mental security’, caused by the collapse of communism, triggered fear of difference.

Planned secondment:  ESR10 will spend 10 months at Jagiellonian University and Halina Niec Legal Aid Centre (HNLAC). The academic visit to Jagiellonian will enable the ESR to carry out fieldwork on anti-Semitism in a city, which experienced some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Prof. Zdzisław Mach, an expert in nationalism. ESR10 will also undertake a secondment at HNLAC to gain hands-on experience in the civil society sector, with a particular emphasis on protecting the human rights of individual persecuted because of their ethnic or religious identities, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR11: Cultures of reaction: anti-migrant feeling (WP4)

Host University: UCL

Objectives: ESR11 will investigate the causes, nature and extent of hostility towards migrants in contemporary Central and Eastern Europe and to investigate the efficacy of NGOs working to counter intolerant views. The ESR may choose to narrow the topic by focusing on particular categories of migrant and investigating any specific country or countries/localities in the region.

Expected Results: ESR11’s research will demonstrate the key factors fuelling anti-immigrant feeling in the CEE region. It will also identify similarities and differences between Western Europe, on the one hand, and Central and Eastern Europe, on the other.

Contribution to WP: ESR11’s research will contribute to the aims of WP4 by demonstrating why increased mobility has resulted in a subjective feeling of living in an unfamiliar, unpredictable world, generating fear, anxiety and a sensation of risk.

Planned secondment(s): In the period M25-36 ESR11 will spend 10 months at CUNI and IOM. The academic visit to CUNI will enable the ESR to carry out fieldwork in a country whose government actors have employed anti-migrant discourse in an attempt to legitimise their social and political agendas. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Dr Emil Aslan, an expert in human security. ESR11 will also undertake a secondment at IOM to gain hands-on experience in the civil society sector, with a particular emphasis on providing humane responses to the growing migration challenges of today, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR12: Escape from liberalism. The right-wing turn in Central and Eastern Europe and the problem of ‘otherness’ (WP4)

Host University: Jagiellonian University

Objectives: ESR12 will investigate the political cultures of Central and Eastern Europe from the point of view of the attitude towards ‘others’. The research will focus on the role that xenophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia and anti-migrant sentiment play in constructing the Other against which national identity is defined.

Expected Results: ESR12’s research will demonstrate why ethnic and religious nationalism has become a common feature of right-wing politics in Central and Eastern Europe.

Contribution to WP: ESR12’s research will contribute to the aims of WP4 by demonstrating how the loss of ‘mental security,’ resulting from rapid change and lack of understanding of its mechanisms, fuels fear of ‘others’.

Planned secondment: ESR12 will spend 10 months at the University of Belgrade and at the Jewish Community Belgrade/ Jewish Historical Museum (JOB/JHM). The academic visit to Belgrade will enable the ESR to carry out fieldwork in a country whose politicians repeatedly stoke fear of ethnic, religious or sexual otherness to promote their own political aims. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Dr Isidora Jaric, an expert in xenophobia and homophobia. ESR12 will also undertake a secondment at JOB/JHM to gain hands-on experience in the museum sector, with a particular emphasis on dealing with persecution on the basis of religious and ethnic otherness, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR13: LGBTQ and anti-LGBTQ social movements in CEE (WP5)

Host University: University of Belgrade

Objectives: Against the backdrop of homophobic political discourse from politicians, the media and the Church, ESR13 will investigate the strategies of public representations used by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) social movements in CEE and how these strategies support the political articulation of their societal, (sub)cultural and ideological interests.

Expected Results: ESR13’s research will demonstrate the key factors fuelling homophobia in CEE as well as the relative success of the strategies of LGBTQ social movements to counter intolerance.

Contribution to WP: ESR13’s research will contribute to the aims of WP5 by identifying how civil society movements in post-communist countries can be used both to promote and undermine democracy.

Planned secondment: ESR13 will spend 10 months at Corvinus University of Budapest and at Amnesty International (AI). The academic visit to Corvinus will enable the ESR to carry out fieldwork in a country which went from being an early champion of LGBT rights to a state whose politicians seek to limit the rights of its LGBT citizens. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Dr Beata Nagy, an expert in gender and sexuality. ESR13 will also undertake a secondment at AI to gain hands-on experience in the civil society sector, with a particular emphasis on protecting human rights, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR14: The depoliticisation of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe (WP5)

Host University: Corvinus University of Budapest

Objectives: While struggles for democracy in CEE in the 1980s led to the resurgence of the concept of civil society in the Western political discourse, subsequent developments have pointed to a certain depoliticisation and the exhaustion of the potential of civil society in the region. Against this backdrop, ESR14 will investigate changing status and role of civil society in contemporary Eastern Europe.

Expected Results: ESR14’s results will demonstrate how and why forms of and attitudes towards civil society in CEE have changed since 1989 and will, in particular, examine the extent to which civil society organisations have been hijacked by nationalist actors.

Contribution to WP: ESR14’s research will contribute to the aims of WP5 by identifying changing forms of and attitudes towards civil society in post-communist countries.

Planned secondment: ESR14 will spend 10 months at the University of Tartu and at the Integration and Migration Foundation, Tallinn (MEIS). The academic visit to Tartu will enable the ESR to carry out fieldwork in a country which regained its independence from the USSR thanks to its well-developed civil society actors but which in recent years has seen some NGOs weaken rather than reinforce social cohesion in the country . The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Prof. Andres Kasekamp, an expert in post-communist politics. ESR14 will also undertake a secondment at MEIS to gain hands-on experience in the civil society sector, with a particular emphasis on the role of civil societies in promoting social cohesion, a key focus of the PhD.

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ESR15: Protest movements as a form of popular movement (WP5)

Host University: Charles University

Objectives: The project will focus on popular movements spreading across Central and Eastern Europe during the period of late communism and in the post-1989 era. The specific focus will be on the impact of these movements and groups on the politics of their respective countries since 2006, i.e. during the phase of ‘delayed transformational fatigue’.

Expected Results: ESR15’s research will demonstrate how forms of mobilisation, protest magnitude and protest rhetoric and symbolism have influenced the political and cultural changes observed in Europe since the 2008 crisis.

Contribution to WP: ESR15’s research will contribute to the aims of WP5 by identifying various forms of citizen engagement in public life and politics and reassess the still prevailing view that civil society in post-communist countries is weak.

Planned secondment: ESR15 will spend 10 months at the University of Tartu and at PRAXIS. The academic visit to Tartu will enable the ESR to carry out fieldwork in a country whose very powerful protest movements in the late communist period helped bring down the USSR. The ESR will also benefit from the supervision of Prof. Vello Pettai, an expert in communist and post-communist politics. ESR15 will also undertake a secondment at PRAXIS, the most experienced and recognised think tank in Estonia, to gain hands-on experience in the civil society sector, with a particular emphasis on assessing the impact of co-ordinated political action, a key focus of the PhD.

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