UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Funded Research Projects

Current and previous Funded Research Projects at UCL SSEES.



    Europe's Last Peasant War: Violence and Revolution in Austria-Hungary and its Successors, 1917-1945

    'Europe's last peasant war' aims to reinterpret the most violent decades of European history from the perspective of the countryside.The project focuses on the area of the Habsburg Empire and its successors since the peasants of these lands shared a common experience of the First World War and found themselves in new and beleaguered interwar states.


    FATIGUE: Delayed Transformational Fatigue in Central and Eastern Europe: Responding to the Rise of Illiberalism/Populism

    An international consortium of six universities, led by UCL SSEES, will research Delayed Transformational Fatigue in Central and Eastern Europe: Responding to the Rise of Illiberalism/Populism (FATIGUE), which is designed to study one of the most pressing issues of our time, the rise of right-wing populism in post-communist Europe (and Europe, more generally).


    Populist rebellion against modernity in 21st-century Eastern Europe: neo-traditionalism and neo-feudalism (POPREBEL)

    UCL SSEES is leading a consortium of six European universities and Edgeryders, an online social innovation company, to carry out a large Horizon 2020-funded research project on the rise of populism in Central and Eastern Europe. The aim of POPREBEL is to describe the phenomenon, create a typology of its various manifestations, reconstruct trajectories of its growth and decline, investigate its causes, interpret its meanings, diagnose its consequences and propose policy solutions.

    HuRiEE Logo 800x500

    Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Russia (HuRiEE)

    Who are the humans behind the Human Rights? An ERC (UKRI-funded) research project led by Dr Agnieszka Kubal, Associate Professor, UCL SSEES

    Past Projects


    The INFORM project consists of 40 researchers across 9 countries, led by UCL SSEES. It aims to understand current situations in the Western Balkan countries through study of the interaction between the formal institutions brought about by EU integration processes and the informal institutions existing in the Western Balkan countries.


    The SmartEIZ project aims to strengthen scientific and research capacity, narrow networking gaps and deficiencies of Institute of Economics, Zagreb (EIZ) in comparison to leading institutions in the field of Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology (EMIT).

    Global Informality Project

    The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality is an interdisciplinary research project led by UCL SSEES. It provides the first multimedia online resource that explores informal practices and structures from a global perspective.

    Socialism Goes Global

    This project addresses both how socialist states in Europe crafted a global role for themselves in the postwar period, and how these international engagements reshaped socialist politics, societies and cultures ‘back home’.

    Structural Reforms and European Integration: Theory, Measurement and Econometric Evidence

    Structural reforms will bring economic growth. This view has led many European countries to implement substantial reform programs, however we still lack a concrete understanding of how these reforms work. Our ESRC project aims to fill the existing gap in the literature.

    Trafficking Past: Exploring Sex Work and Migration in Modern History

    Human trafficking, ‘people smuggling’ and clandestine migration are some of the most politically volatile and socially pressing issues in the present day. This AHRC-funded project (2016-2019) contributes significantly to the emerging study of the history of illicit and clandestine migration by examining the history of trafficking in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in comparative and global perspective.

    Impacts of Gender Discourse on Polish Politics, Society & Culture Comparative Perspectives

    In recent years Poland has witnessed a heated debate on gender as a ‘dangerous’ concept that threatens the integrity of family and social life. The media makes frequent use of concepts such as genderism or gender ideology, usually accompanied by anti-feminist rhetoric, while the government recently attempted to tighten the already restrictive abortion law, prompting countrywide “black protests”. Debates about gender inequality and the very concept of gender itself as well as about reproductive rights and homosexuality have also been affected by the rise of nationalism in Poland, elsewhere in Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world.

    Anticorruption Policies Revisited: Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption' (ANTICORRP)

    ANTICORRP is a large-scale research project funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Program and its largest social sciences' grant (€10 million). The full name of the project is 'Anticorruption Policies Revisited: Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption'. The central objective of ANTICORRP is to investigate factors that promote or hinder the development of effective anti-corruption policies. The project started in March 2012 and lasted for 5 years.The project consisted of 21 research groups in 16 EU countries. The project combined global scope with local expertise, using quantitative methods to identify 'over-performing' and 'under-performing' countries in relation to their progress towards less corrupt governance regimes. Special emphasis is placed on EU member states, accession and neighbourhood countries, and developing countries that receive significant EU aid.

    Obninsk-The First Russian Science City

    The project's goal is to provide a new conceptualisation of the fates of several generations of talented scholars in Russia. The historical analysis focuses on 2 questions: work ethics of the Soviet scientists and the social organisation of scientific and research processes in the former USSR. The findings from the research will be used when creating new science cities and innovation centres such as Skolkovo near Moscow.

    In 2012, project researchers carried out in-depth interviews with representatives of different generations of the scientific-technical intelligentsia in Obninsk, with former employees of leading research institutes, scientific centres and factories. Findings from the project are being presented at seminars with scientists and researchers in Obninsk and at an international conference in Moscow in November 2013. An open database of the interviews will be available online for future research.

    The fieldwork results and theoretical contributions will be published by the Russian publisher 'Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie' (New Literary Review) in a volume at the end of 2013. The initiators of the project emphasise that the project's unique scientific material - based on the experiences of Russia's first science city - will help the country develop an intelligent and effective innovation policy. Besides this, the project will bolster Obninsk's own reputation as a leading scientific centre of Russia.

    The local administration of Obninsk and the agency for regional development of Kaluga region as well as the Prokhorov foundation provide active assistance to the research project.

    For further information, please contact Timur Atnashev (Project Coordinator) at timur.atnashev@gmail.com or Imogen Wade (Project Researcher and PhD student at UCL SSEES) at imogen.wade.10@ucl.ac.uk.

    Conference Grant: Trust and Distrust in the USSR

    Funded by British Academy

    Prof Geoffrey Hosking and Dr Kristin Roth-Ey

    Dictatorships like the Soviet state and authoritarian regimes like post-war European socialist societies needed trust as a crucial resource for social integration and the stability of the political order. The goal is to analyse establishment, functioning, stability and vitality of political regimes and societies in the Soviet Bloc through the terms, concepts and meanings of trust and distrust. The hypothesis is that authoritarian societies in Europe also had their own “habitus of trust” and developed their own “culture of trust”; the purpose is speak about the establishment of socialist cultures of trust based on a mixture of pre-modern and modern forms of trust and distrust analyzing the promotion of modern forms of institutionalized trust that offered more normative coherence and stability to the social order and the production of personified, pre-modern form of trust, generated through leader cults and by creating broad categories of friends and enemies.
    The starting point is the process of desalinization in 1956, promoting trust led to the “normalization” of everyday life and stabilization of communist regimes in Europe. This normalization developed from the intensification of political communication as a space of negotiation—between people and state, the individual and the system—over the possibilities and limits of collaboration, tolerance and coexistence under a socialist dictatorship.
    The workshop will contribute to the development of a cultural history of trust and distrust that can shed new light on several important issues, like the stability and acceptance of authoritarian regimes, processes of social integration and disintegration, practices of inclusion and exclusion and finally mobilising individual and collective actions.

    Period: July 4-5, 2013

    Forced Trust: Emotional Bonds Between People and State in Soviet Russia (1917-1991). A History of Trust and Mistrust

    EU Framework 7 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship


    Dr Kristin Roth-Ey Fellow: Dr Alexey  Tikhomirov


    Trust is an essential part of individual lives and the workings of modern society. Not only democracies, but also dictatorships like the Soviet state and authoritarian regimes like postwar European socialist societies needed trust as a crucial resource for social integration and stability of political order. But how much trust did a dictatorship need to ensure the regime s viability? How did the propaganda state produce the trust necessary to legitimate itself? How did the population experience trust and mistrust in the insecurities of everyday life? Answers to those questions are important to understand problems of democratic transition in post-communist countries and to explain how neo-authoritarian systems are produced today.

    My project, a cultural history of trust and mistrust in Soviet Russia 1917-1991, is the first historical study to illuminate the role of emotions in organizing states and societies. I hypothesize that the Soviet state preserved social cohesion with the paradoxical principle of forced trust: the bureaucratic system s ineffectiveness made people feel defenseless, compelling them to mistrust official institutions and join networks of forced trust under local patrons with ultimate protection from the head of state. Taking a constructivist approach, I treat trust and mistrust as socially constructed, politically directed feelings. I.e., trust and mistrust changed over time. The language, symbols, rituals and meanings adhering to these emotions reveal that they influenced history and have their own history. Trust and mistrust were moreover products of political communication during which actors struggled for status and resources in networks of forced trust, established hierarchies and regulated processes of inclusion and exclusion. Wide ranging archival and published sources allow reconstruction of intersections between state production, representation and construction of trust and mistrust and individual experience, memory and social practices.

    Innovation and Knowledge Based Entrepreneurship as Links Between Knowledge, Economic Growth and Social Well-Being (AEGIS)

    EU Framework 7 Funding

    Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles of East Europeans in London (SALLEE)

    Project Dates: The project, lasting two years, commenced in November 2007. Partners:

    UCL Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research

    UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies

    SALLEE is a methodologically innovative survey-based project drawing on techniques of social mapping and respondent driven sampling (RDS) to identify a broadly representative sample of London's CEE migrants. As of October 2008 a total of 1,934 CEE men and women have completed a detailed 'Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles' questionnaire either as part of a community sample, a web sample, a clinic sample or the RDS sample. Detailed follow-up interviews with a sub-sample of respondents are now taking place and the results of the project will begin to emerge more concretely during 2009.

    Summary of the Project Proposal

    A joint study between the UCL School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (SSEES) and the UCL Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research has been awarded a substantial grant, totalling almost £400,000, by the Medical Research Council (MRC). The grant is being used to fund the SALLEE study, which is researching the sexual attitudes and lifestyles of London's Eastern Europeans.

    The study, led by Dr Fiona Burns (UCL Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research), comes at a time when London is becoming home to increasing numbers of economic migrants from Central and Eastern Europe. The sexual and reproductive health needs of these mainly young, single workers have not been addressed until now, despite major increases in sexually transmitted infections across these regions.

    Professor Graham Hart, Director of the UCL Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, said: "SALLEE will help identify what we need to do to improve sexual health services for these young migrants. This is a great example of multidisciplinary collaboration working across UCL - we wouldn't have had this success without the expertise of colleagues in SSEES."

    Dr Robin Aizlewood, Director of UCL SSEES, said: "Drs Christopher Gerry and Richard Mole of SSEES are looking forward to working with Fiona and Graham on this project. The school is committed to collaboration with colleagues in biomedicine and other faculties on topics of mutual research and teaching interest."

    Project Update (2008)

    The significant increases in sexually transmitted infections across the CEE region have been well documented and this multidisciplinary UCL project represents the first major attempt to identify what action is needed to improve sexual and reproductive health services for these migrant communities. SALLEE has confirmed that the CEE migrants are already having a substantial impact on GUM services. Indeed, if attendance rates continue to rise at the current level, CEE women will soon account for over 10% of all new attendances. In contrast proportionately fewer CEE males have accessed GUM services.

    Probabilistic approach to assessing macroeconomic uncertainties (PRAM)

    This project is a joint initiative between the UK and French researchers in three universities for ESRC

    University of Leicester, UCL SSEES CREST and University of Lille 3, France.


    Dr Svetlana Makarova

    The aim of the project is to develop new methods of forecasting of macroeconomic indicators, like inflation, interest rates and output, where extreme events (hyperinflations, rapid devaluations, etc) are not treated as anomalies, but as intrinsic parts of economic processes.


    The Nordic and Baltic States in the European Political Imagination

    ESRC Seminar Series

    Dr Richard Mole
    Dr Titus Hjelm

    Dr Allan Sikk

    The inter-disciplinary seminar series brings together social scientists and historians to analyse an under-researched region that is of particular interest both from the academic and the British perspective.

    The Hungarian Customary Law Tradition

    Leverhulme Trust

    Prof Martyn Rady

    Further information

    • Includes discussion of private, public, constitutional, and procedural law
    • Contains considerable comparative content to interest legal historians as well as historians of Central Europe

    Published by Oxford University Press:

    The first study of customary law in Hungary in any language Covers the legal history of Hungary from the thirteenth to the twentieth centuries
    The Business Start-Up Financing, Institutional Environment and Characteristics of the Entrepreneurs

    Professor Tomasz Mickiewicz Dr Julia Korosteleva Gian Fazio

    The lack of credit history and valuable reputation typically distinguish small and medium sized enterprises from established firms, creating a disadvantage for the former when it comes to the issue of funding.

    Given a higher asymmetry in information, financial institutions find costly to monitor small businesses. As a result, the cost of financing is higher for them compared to large firms. Furthermore, the higher risk of failure further restrains small firms' accessibility of finance, bank finance in particular as contrasted with venture capital, and affects the relative cost of different financial options. This situation has implications for both the volume and the structure of finance that the entrepreneur is seeking.

    Accordingly, this paper aims to investigate the determinants of the financial structure of business start-ups. We will examine how the business environment interacts with the individual characteristics of entrepreneurs such as education, experience and social capital in affecting entrepreneurial financing decisions. Entrepreneurs in developing countries and transition economies typically exhibit a moderately low level of external financing, largely relying on own equity, family and friends' funds.

    Although to less extent, they also tend to use leasing and short-term bank credit in financing their ventures. The use of equity and venture capital is least likely. This is primarily attributed to an underdevelopment of the financial system, in the first instance of the banking sector, as finance in these countries is more bank- rather than market-based. External equity in the form of business angles and venture capital is poorly developed in the majority of these countries. Furthermore venture capital tends to play more significant role for high-tech branches such as IT and biotechnology; as a result, the sectoral makeup of entrepreneurship is affected by restrictions on available set of financial options.

    Along with an underdevelopment of the financial system, a poorly functioning legal environment is also expected to restrain entrepreneurs' choice of finance. More specifically, we hypothesize that poor collateral law and weak contract enforcement are likely to discourage financiers, limiting an entrepreneur's access to external finance.

    Poor contract enforcement is also hypothesized to constrain the use of trade credit, as an entrepreneur may find difficult to enforce contract in a court of law. A low quality of corporate governance legal system and weak protection of shareholders against expropriation may lead to a high cost of equity and venture capital lowering its attractiveness for the new venture. Thus, we hypothesise that the different features of the institutional environment will affect particular financial options in dissimilar way.

    As mentioned at the beginning, our key hypotheses are related not just to the impact of business environment and the quality of the financial system on availability of finance to entrepreneurs. More importantly, we investigate the interaction between the characteristics of entrepreneurs and the institutional features in the environment. We hypothesize that in a weak institutional environment, it is not only that access to finance is more limited, but also that it becomes more uneven, in a sense that entrepreneurs with significant amount of social and human capital are more like to obtain some particular types of finance. Another words in a poor environment, a situation of 'insider entrepreneurship' that we described elsewhere (Aidis et al. 2008a; Aidis et al. 2008b) is also reflected along the financial dimension.

    To explore the determinants of financial structure of business start-ups, we will use the data collected through the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) surveys. The GEM data have some advantages such as the absence of selectivity bias. The data consist of representative 2,000-strong samples drawn from the working age population, unlike other studies which focus on the existing entrepreneurs only. Moreover, the institutional country-level variables as explanatory factors can safely be used without being concerned with simultaneity bias, as the individual decision of a potential entrepreneur does not affect country-level institutions.


    Aidis, R., Estrin, S. and Mickiewicz, T. (2008a) "Institutions and Entrepreneurship Development in Russia: A Comparative Perspective", Journal of Business Venturing, forthcoming.

    Aidis, A., J. Korosteleva and T. Mickiewicz (2008b) "Entrepreneurship in Russia" in L. Dana, I. Welpe, V. Ratten and M. Han (eds.) Entrepreneurship and Internationalisation of SMEs in Asia (Cheltelham: Edward Elgar).

    Download working paper

    Political Violence in Russia 1901-1911

    The British Academy Research Development Award

    Professor Susan Morrissey

    Political Violence in Russia, 1901-1911' was funded by the British Academy and explored the relationship between revolutionary terrorism, state-sponsored violence, and culture and media in early twentieth-century Russia.

    Connecting Communities via Language: Reading Strategies and Translation Skills


    Dr Robin Aizlewood Dr Dorota Hołowiak

    Report and materials available via the CEELBAS Language Repository)

    An AHRC-funded project addressing the provision of specialised language skills for research at the post-intermediate stage in Polish language learning.

    East Looks West: East European Travel Writing on European Identities and Divisions, 1550 - 2000

    Wendy Bracewell

    East Looks West is a major research project examining the meanings and uses of the concept of 'Europe' through the medium of east European travel texts. Some 10 years in development and execution, the project, conceived and directed by Professor Wendy Bracewell (UCL SSEES), brought together a team of more than 20 scholars in ten counties to collate and analyse an enormous corpus of travel accounts, written in over 20 languages and published over a period of four and a half centuries. East Looks West publications include fundamental research tools, including a comprehensive bibliography and an anthology of translations, as well as two collections of studies that have laid the foundation for further study of east European travel writing and its uses.

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    Foreign Direct Investment, Governance, and Firm Performance

    ESRC Funded

    Professor Tomasz Mickiewicz

    Over the past thirty years, foreign direct investment (FDI) growth has far outstripped output growth and trade growth. Over this period, policy makers in transition and developing countries have placed a great deal of emphasis in attracting FDI, expecting that FDI flows would bring new technologies, know-how and thus contribute to increasing competition and productivity of the domestic industry. FDI has also assumed an importance in the resource-constrained transition economies of central and Eastern Europe in their efforts to upgrade the existing infrastructure to assist the privatisation process initiated in the early 1990s. However, very little is understood about the extent to which host or home country institutions mitigate (or enhance) the effects of FDI on host countries. Despite some initial efforts, our knowledge about the impact that institutions can have in determining the beneficial effects of FDI (for example in terms of productivity growth or competition) remain rather unexplored. This proposal aims to fill in this gap of the literature.


    GRINCOH - Growth-Innovation-Competitiveness: Fostering Cohesion in Central and Eastern Europe

    EU Framework 7 Funding

    Professor Slavo Radošević
    Dr Julia Korosteleva
    Dr Esin Yoruk

    GRINCOH is a collaborative medium-scale focused research project funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Program. Project started in March 2012 and will run for 3 years. GRINCOH addresses two issues affecting Central and Eastern European economies: the disjuncture between fast productivity growth and poor performance in developing innovative capacities for longer-term sustainable growth; and the pronounced economic, social and environmental territorial disparities resulting from accelerated growth. Read More