UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)



Upcoming events

What Shall We Do With These Buildings? – Preview Screening & Fundraising Event in Support of Ukraine

When: 04 May 2022, 6.30-8.00pm

Film still from 'What Shall We Do With These Buildings?'
A fundraising screening of a film shot just months before the invasion in Ukraine, followed by a discussion with members of the film production, academics and invited guests from the Ukrainian architecture community.

The film 'What Shall We Do With These Buildings?' is set in the city of Kharkiv, situated 30km from the Russian border. The city is the former capital of Soviet Ukraine. Soviet architecture is everywhere; the city's built environment is composed of the patrimony of this defunct regime. What should be done with these buildings? Should they be preserved, destroyed, repurposed? What power do they hold over the way people think and interact with their environment?

White Flowers, Red Hearts: Belarusian Protest Poetry in Solidarity with Ukraine

When: 28 April 2022, 5pm-7pm

People holding up flags with red hearts
This seminar brings together two prominent Belarussian poets: Hanna Komar and Valzhyna Mort to discuss the political potential of poetry in times of imperial violence, enormous suffering and global solidarity with those fighting for democracy. This seminar seeks to explore how our shared past, present and future are imagined in the poetry that emerged after the events of 2020 in Belarus and how the temporal and spatial orientations of poetry make visible connections between individuals, groups and countries that might be overlooked within the linear everyday reality.

PPV #28: Decolonising Russia's War on Ukraine

When: 26 March 2022, 3-7.30pm

Decolonising Russia's war on Ukraine event poster
A day of talks, film screenings and conversations dissecting Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine as a colonial enterprise. All ticket proceeds and bar proceeds to be donated to Ukraine’s resistance against Russia’s war.

This symposium is devoted to dissecting Russia's current war against Ukraine as a colonial enterprise; and to promoting understanding of Russian colonial violence as an essential part of planetary post-colonial and decolonial theory and practice.

PPV #27: Book Launch: Ewa Majewska’s Feminist Antifascism

Speakers:  Ewa Majewska, Tariq Ali, Marsha Bradfield, Tim Waterman and Diane Bauer

When: 18 March 2022 at 6pm GMT. This will be an in-person event.

Ewa Majewska book cover
In these dark times of fascism returning under the guise of conservatism, fundamentalism or even “defense of basic freedoms”, grassroots as well as institutional responses typically follow. In the times of the International Women's Strike, #metoo and Black Lives Matter and trans-solidarity however, these resistances most often have a woman’s face or that of many queer/ LGBTQI+ and POC identities. Is it true that the heroic versions of political agency, based on male socialization and privilege, are now being replaced by a plethora of weak, marginalized subjects working in solidarity? Do we witness a shift of power in the antifascist theory and movement? What happens in the borderlands of our political experiences and with our visions of utopia? Do we have a feminist future ahead?

PPV #26: Babyn Yar: Architecture, Memory and Politics in Ukraine

Speakers: Anna Kamyshan

When: 17 March 2022 at 6pm GMT. This will be an in-person event.

People walking through the forest in Ukraine
The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre (BYHMC) is  highly controversial project, currently under development on the site of a ravine near Kyiv where 34,000 Jews were murdered by Nazi occupiers in September 1941. This talk by Anna Kamyshan, former Director of Conceptual Development and Research Projects at BYHMC, will focus on the creative concept she developed during her work on the project. The talk will discuss the project's ambitions as well as the resistance it met in Ukrainian society. It will describe how the concept behind the project grew, from a traditional museum to a large-scale transformation of the territory and landscape; and the conceptual, political and architectural dimensions this shift in scale and focus entailed.

PPV #25: Cosmic Commonism, Cosmic Communism, Cosmic Colonialism?

Speakers: Madina Tlostanova & Ewa Majewska

When: 20 January 2022 at 6.30pm GMT. This will be an online event. 

Cosmic Mothers by Galina Konopatskaya
What heritages, aesthetics and styles of radical subversion can we find in the interstices of the socialist and post-socialist worlds? Do the cosmic promises and fantasies of state socialism - and their esoteric interpretations and appropriations by artists like Janina Kraupe-Świderska and Galina Konopatskaya - hold any kind of radical potential for a subversive new politics and new aesthetics today? Do the vernacular mutations of Marxism-Leninism (and other high modern ideologies) which settled into shape in local contexts during the 19th-21st centuries hold any promise as indigenous ideologies of resistance against late neoliberal capitalist heteropatriarchal hegemony? Or does the shape and style of a non-fascist, non-patriarchal world have to coalesce from a different kind of material altogether?

PPV #24: The Creeper Museum and the Weeds of Education: Towards a De-Meaned Ministry of Minimum Enlightenment

Speakers: Dr Margarita Kuleva in conversation with Olesandr Dmitrenko (Pohititel Aromatov)

When: 16 December at 5pm GMT. This will be a hybrid event.

Dr Margarita Kuleva
The talk addresses the issues of social inequality in cultural and knowledge production in the context of contemporary Russia. More precisely, it focuses on methodologies and results of two art projects – The Ministry of Enlightenment (St Petersburg, Russia, Summer 2021) and The Arrival (ongoing in the UK). Both projects are based on the approach I call ‘performative lectures’, which stands for exploring opportunities for more horizontal and open forms of public education. Performative lectures are taken from university rooms to various urban locations, where they co-exist with other cultural practices, agents, sounds. A performative lecture is not a plant to cultivate, but rather a sporadically-growing weeds in the garden of enlightenment. The first series, The Ministry of Enlightenment, follows the discussion on the recent law ‘on enlightenment activity’, regulating educational activity in Russia beyond official study programs.

Online tabloid politics: predicting votes and values with celebrity and scandal

Speaker: Helena Chmielewska-Szlajfer, Assistant Professor at Kozminski University and Visiting Fellow at LSE Department of Media and Communications

When: 10 December at 5pm GMT. This event will be held in the Masaryk room, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, 16 Taviton Street

 A person reading news on a tablet
What do online tabloids tell us about where news consumers put their attention? How do online tabloids uncover and shape popular values? I have been studying the political coverage of three major online tabloids, Gawker in the United States, Mail Online in the United Kingdom, and Pudelek in Poland, during three campaigns – 2015 presidential campaign in Poland, 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK and presidential campaign in the US – which led to significant right-wing, populist shifts in these three countries. Most political surveys and expert analyses circulated during these campaigns turned out to be wrong. In contrast, the three outlets – known for mixing celebrity and politics – provided scandalising, entertaining, and emotional news accompanied by readers’ comments, that turned out to be more aligned with the vote results.


When: 23 November at 5pm GMT. This event will be held IRL (In Real Life). Hybrid online participation via Zoom will be enabled. 

A person reading the book Avant Garde as Method
Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, the Higher Art and Technical Studios in Moscow, more commonly known as Vkhutemas, adopted what it called the “objective method” to facilitate instruction on a mass scale. The school was the first to implement mass art and technology education, which was seen as essential to the Soviet Union’s dominant modernist paradigm.



PPV #22: The Aesthetics of Revolution: Broadcasts from Accra

When: 28 October 2021. This event will be held IRL (In Real Life). Hybrid online participation via Zoom will be enabled. 

Photo of Mohammed Ben Abdallah at the typewriter
In the mid 20th century, the coup d’état became a seemingly common form of political action around the world. Theorists on both the left and the right argued about how to defend the state from as well as instigate various types of coups. While purportedly illegitimate, the coup was central to state craft and the practice of international relations. It had a recognizable ritual order and aesthetic. With end of the Cold War and the growing hegemony of a global neoliberal capitalist order, the coup d’état seemingly became a relic of an older political-economic order. But recently there has been a new wave of coups both failed and successful from Washington to Conakry. I ask why the coup has returned to prominence as a form of political discourse. Its return as a mode of legitimate action reveals the imperialist origins of the modern nation-state and the growing recent pressure on national borders and techniques of rule. I argue that while the coup d’état is signified as an outdated nightmare and relic of state dysfunction it is, in fact, the apotheosis of the nation-state. Its organization and violence mimic and invert the order and bureaucracy of state rule, legitimated violence that maintain it, and even mimic its networks of communication.

PPV #21: Commoning the Post-Socialist Ruins

When: 26 October 2021. This event will be held IRL (In Real Life). Hybrid online participation via Zoom will be enabled. 

An image by Dimitra Gkitsa
What are the aesthetic and political articulations inscribed in the materiality of abandoned post-socialist sites? How can we common anew such spaces of contested histories? More crucially, what is to be done with the modern post-socialist ruins?

With the collapse of the communist regime what remained from the communist past – monuments, factories, unfinished housing buildings, memorials – were abandoned and decayed, as resembling an era that was left once and for all in the past. Here, abandonment is not something momentary that occurred in a specific temporal framework, but rather, an ongoing process, a modern ruin always in the making. While official sites of collective memory are articulated around pre-defined rhetorics, abandoned sites can become an active mode for negotiating the very process of decline and for understanding the transformation of public spaces in the post-socialist reality.

Book launch: Yuri Avvakumov's Paper Architecture

When: 12 October 2021. This event will take place online via Zoom.

Cover of the book Paper Architecture
Architect and curator Yuri Avvakumov explores the legendary movement of “paper architects,” of which he was a key representative. Paper architecture—a type of conceptual art that circulated in the form of journal publications, exhibitions, and competitions of ideas—was a product of nonconformist reflection which employed languages and images of various architectural styles to create multivalent project designs. Paper architecture brought together the visual means of expression typical of fine art, architecture proper, literature, and theater. The book features texts and works by the main paper architects, including Yuri Avvakumov, Mikhail Belov, Alexander Brodsky, Lev Evzovich, Mikhail Filippov, Totan Kuzembaev, Vyacheslav Mizin, and Ilya Utkin.



Past Events 2018-2021

FRINGE is currently compiling a full catalogue of events from 2015 until 2021. Please check back soon for updates. FRINGE is currently compiling a full catalogue of events from 2015 until 2021. Please check back soon for updates.

Term 1

  • Protest and Performativity (in callaboration with UCL European Institute
  • Book Launch 1: Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia (by Francisco Martinez)

Term 2

  • On Neutrality (2019 Annual International Conference) 
  • Book Launch 2: The (City) Centre Cannot Hold? (Ed. Jonathan Bach and Michal Murawski)

A Portal Not Only to Hell, But Also to Paradise: Park Zaryadye, The Sacred Centre of 21st Century Moscow 

Where: Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow
When: 25 July-12 August 2018

Zaryadye Park, Russia
Zaryadye Park is a multi-billion rouble Kremlin-abutting prestige project, designed by the architects of Manhattan’s High Line on the ruins of the gargantuan Brezhnev-era Hotel Rossiya. It was opened with great fanfare by Vladimir Putin in September 2017. “A Portal…" is a research-based exhibition, comprised of 15 contemporary Russian artists’ reflections, interrogations and provocations on the theme of Zaryadye Park, and its relationship to the aesthetic, political and economic new order of late-Putinist Moscow.



Picture of building in Russia
The exhibition emerges from “Zaryadyology", a collaborative research project, carried out by anthropologist of architecture Michal Murawski together with students and staff at the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism in Moscow. The artists selected to take part in the project have chosen the focus and titles of their works themselves, but they were asked to respond to the work-in-progress results of the Zaryadyological research process.
Programme booklet
Past Events 2015-2018

FRINGE Annual International Workshop: Redefining Russian Diaspora (1918-2018): National Tradition and Transnational Contexts 

Where: UCL SSEES and UCL Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)
When: 30-31 May 2018

In contemporary discourse inside and outside Russia, ‘Russianness’ has become a rhetorical and conceptual point of contention. Starting with the premise that there is no single ‘fundamental’ Russian cultural formation—all relationships are historically produced and need to be made—we propose to examine the strategies of discursive constructions of Russianness and the Russian identity as enacted through cultural production in the geographically, chronologically and culturally distinct locations (across Russia and diaspora). The workshop convener is Dr Maria Rubins. Programme

Book Launch: The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality, volume 1 and 2 

Where: UCL Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)
When: 22 March 2018

Join the FRINGE Centre for this launch, which marks the first publication in the FRINGE Series. Prof Alena Ledeneva invites you on a voyage of discovery, to explore society's open secrets, unwritten rules and know-how practices. Entries from the five continents presented in this volume are samples of the truly global and ever-growing collection, made possible by a remarkable collaboration of over 200 scholars across disciplines and area studies.  Read and download both volumes here.

Shame on You: Theorising shame, pride and community in contemporary culture

Where: Banqueting Hall, Chelsea College of Arts, SW1P 4JU
When: 9 February 2018 

With shame still being used as a means of excluding groups on the basis of sexual identities, this event will explore the experiences of those that are marginalized and the ways in which excluded groups are using shame as a way of carving out new positive identities. With a focus of issues of gender, class, and pan-sexuality.

Crossing the Great Divide? Reassessing East-West Relations During the Cold War and After

Where: UCL SSEES and UCL Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)
When: 25 January 2018

Evolving and multivalent, Russia’s relationship to the West is not a simple one to uncover, let alone to evaluate. This panel discussion, with authors Dr Egle Rindzeviciute and Prof Irina Busygina, will shed new light on East-West relations by analysing sources of contemporary tension and evaluating little known areas of cooperation during the Cold War.  

Revolutionary Dostoevsky: Rethinking Radicalism

Where: UCL SSEES and UCL Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)
When: 20-21 October 2017

FRINGEr Dr Sarah Young brings together experts from literary studies, philosophy, theology and political science, to reassess the author’s status as ‘prophet’ of the revolution and explore new understandings of the notion of ‘the radical’ in all senses in his writing. This event is sponsored by The FRINGE Centre.

Launch of Global Atlas of Social and Cultural Complexity

Where: UCL Institute of Advanced Studies
When: 17 March 2016

The Global Atlas of Social and Cultural Complexity is the first multimedia online resource focused on under-researched practices across which are often seen as non-transparent or hidden to an outsider. The launch will provide a taster of informality, with short introductions that illuminate informal and invisible practices from across the globe.  


Where: UCL Institute of Advanced Studies
When: 3 December 2015