UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Truth, Reality and Imagination Interpretations from Eastern and Central Europe

19 February 2020–20 February 2020, 9:00 am–7:30 pm

Cartoon boy flying over houses

16th Biennial International Postgraduate Conference at UCL SSEES

This event is free.

Event Information

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Masaryk Room
16 Taviton Street

What is truth? This question has been proposed by humanity since biblical times. Our conference will focus on the concepts of truth, reality, perception and imagination across the post-socialist communities of Russia, Eurasia, Eastern and Central Europe. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the transition to capitalism challenged perceptions of reality. Consequently, we see that interpretations of the past and understanding of the present in post-socialist societies are in a state of flux.

We are bringing together early-career scholars from across academic disciplines to spur discussion on issues of reality and imagination in the (re)construction of past and present in Eastern and Central Europe.

The keynote speakers for the conference will be Stephen Lovell, who is professor of history at King’s College London. His research interests are in the social and cultural history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russia. Professor Lovell will be introducing his upcoming book: How Russia Learned to Talk: A History of Public Speaking in the Stenographic Age, 1860-1930.

Our second keynote speaker will be Alena Ledeneva, who is professor of politics and society at UCL SSEES and an internationally renowned expert on informal governance in Russia. Professor Ledeneva will be speaking on the subject of: ‘Searching for Truth and Finding Ambivalence: Evidence from the Global Informality Project.’

The conference will hold a roundtable on academic publishing, featuring prominent publishers in the field, including Palgrave Macmillan, Routledge, De Gruyter and JP Publishing. We will be joined by the editors of several academic journals—including Slavic Review, Journal of Contemporary Eastern and Central Europe, Central Europe, East European Politics and Journal of East European Politics and Societies—who will offer insights on what they expect from articles and academic books.

In addition, we will host a roundtable on Women in Academia: Challenges and Opportunities of Researching Eastern Europe and Eurasia. The roundtable will be introduced and chaired by Dr Erica Richardson from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr Richardson will contrast doing research in Eastern Europe as an academic and as an international civil servant. She will also share her experience of how parenthood shaped her choices and trajectory as well as her experience of being a researcher.

We hope that this conference will provide an opportunity for postgraduate students and early-career researchers to present their research to a broad, cross-disciplinary audience, as well as to network with other scholars from the countries of Eurasia, Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Registration is free but essential, via Eventbrite.

Where: London, UCL SSEES 16 Taviton St, London WC1H 0BW

When: 9:00 am 19 February 2020 – 7:30 pm 20 February 2020

Day 1

19 February 2020

9:00 – 9:45, Masaryk room

Arrival and Registration

9:45 –10:00, Masaryk room

Introduction and Welcome

10:00 – 11:30

Room 431

Panel 1: Cinema and Literature

Chair: Dr Seth Graham

10:00 – 11:30

Room 432

Panel 2: Populism

Chair: Dave Dalton

10:00 – 11:30

Room 433

Panel 3: History and Philosophy

Chair: Prof Geoffrey Hosking

11:30 – 11:45, Masaryk room

Coffee Break

11:45 – 13:15

Room 431

Panel 4: Politics of Memory

Chair: TBC

11:45 – 13:15

Room 432

Panel 5: Memory and Identity in Czech Republic

Chair: Dr Thomas Lorman

11:45 – 13:15

Room 433

Panel 6: Societies in the Digital Age

Chair: Bohdana Kurylo

13:15 – 14:15, Masaryk room


14:15 – 16:00

Room 347

Women in Academia Roundtable:

Chair: Dr Erica Richardson (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Participants: Jasmin Dall'Agnola (Oxford Brookes), 

Bohdana Kurylo (UCL SSEES), 

Alexandra Bulat (UCL SSEES),

Anna Glew (University of Manchester)

Andrea Peinhopf (UCL SSEES). 

16:00 – 16:15, Masaryk room


16:15 – 17:30

Room 347

Keynote Speaker: Prof Stephen Lovell

17:30 – 19:30, Masaryk room

Wine reception

Day 2

20 February 2020


9:30 – 10:00, Masaryk room

Morning welcome and Coffee

10:00 – 11:30

Room 132

Panel 7: Caucasus and Central Asia in a Global Context

Chair: TBC

10:00 – 11:30

Room 347

Panel 8: History and its Contemporary Usage

Chair: Dr Uilleam Blacker

10:00 – 11:30

Room 433

Panel 9: National Identity

Chair: Prof Anne White

11:30 – 12:00, Masaryk room


12:00 – 13:30

Room 431

Panel 10: Re-addressing History

Chair: Julia Klimova

12:00 – 13:30

Room 432

Panel 11: Role of Museums in National Identity Construction

Chair: Sarah Moore

12:00 – 13:30

Room 433

Panel 12: Media and Propaganda

Chair: Prof Andrew Wilson

13:30 – 14:30, Masaryk room


14:30 – 16:15

Room 347

How to Get Published: Roundtable

Publishers: Palgrave Macmillan, Routledge, De Gruyter and JP Publishing

Academic Journals:

Prof Diane Koenker: Slavic Review;

Andrew Kilmister: Journal of Contemporary Eastern and Central Europe;

Dr Thomas Lorman: Central Europe;

Prof Adam Fagan: East European Politics

Prof Wendy Bracewell: Journal of East European Politics and Societies.

16:15 – 16:45, Masaryk room


16:45 – 18:00, Room 347

Keynote Speaker: Prof Alena Ledeneva

18:00 – 19:30, Masaryk room

Informal Coffee, Participants leave