UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


European Politics, Security and Integration Seminar Series

We bring together academic staff, research fellows and research students in UCL and beyond who are interested in the politics of contemporary Europe.

Our areas of interest include democracy, sovereignty and security in Europe, European identities and their relationship with national and sub-national identity, and Europe's interaction with the US, Russia, East Asia and the Islamic and Arab world.

Our seminars and working papers act as a catalyst for world class research and scholarship on the politics of contemporary Europe and offer a space for the discussion of ongoing research and development of new ideas anticipating contemporary policy debates.

This seminar series is currently on hiatus.

Past Events

View past events including titles, summaries, speakers and podcasts.

Spring Term 2016

This year CEPSI will be collaborating with the UCL ANTICORRP team and the Slavonic and East European Review to jointly present a series of seminars under the title ‘Innovations in Corruption Studies in Europe and beyond’. The series will bring together speakers from ANTICORPP partner institutions across Europe and showcase research conducted as part of the project at UCL and elsewhere. Find out more about the series >

Spring Term 2016 Programme
20 JanuaryMonika Bauhr (Quality of Governance Institute – University of Gothenburg)
Will Democratic Accountability Reduce Corruption? Need, Greed and Conditions for Collective Action
3 FebruaryAlina Mungiu-Pippidi (Hertie School of Governance, Berlin)
Understanding Virtuous Circles: How Societies Develop Control of Corruption
24 February Dimitri Sotiropuolos (University of Athens) and Roxana Bratu (UCL SSEES)
Practicing anti-corruption: The development of innovative policies in Bulgaria, Greece and Romania
9 MarchDr Elena Denisova-Schmidt (University of St Gallen) and Professor Alena Ledeneva (UCL SSEES)
Innovative Strategies in Fighting Corruption in the Corporate Sector

Thursday 17 March


Dr Claudia Baez-Camargo (Basel Institute of Governance) and Professor Alena Ledeneva (UCL SSEES)
Where does informality stop and corruption begin? Informal governance and the public/private crossover in Mexico, Russia and Tanzania
Autumn Term 2015
2015-16 Autumn Term Programme
Opening seminar on innovations in Corruption Studies: Talk by Professor Paul Heywood (University of Nottingham)
Wednesday 14 October 2015 1pm - 2pm
Favoritism in Public Procurement Across Europe – Tools that Work: Talk by Dr Mihály Fazekas (University of Cambridge)
Wednesday 28 October 2015 1pm - 2pm
Selecting Case Studies for Qualitative Analyses of Media Reporting on Corruption: Talk by Dr Andrej Školkay (School of Communication and Media, Bratislava (SKAMBA))
Wednesday 18 November 2015 5:30pm - 7pm
In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine: A book launch and talk by Economist correspondent Tim Judah
Tuesday 1 December 2015 1pm - 2pm
Matters of Ambivalence or Ambivalence Matters - Evidence from the Global Informality Project: Talk by Professor Alena Ledeneva (UCL SSEES)
Wednesday 9 December 2015 1pm - 2pm 
Spring Term 2015

2015 Spring Term Programme 


NATO at the Crossroads: Defence Alliance, Regional Enforcer or Partnership Hub? - Dr Trine Flockhart (Danish Institute for International Studies​)

26 January 2015, 6pm, UCL SSEES Room 432

NATO enters a period of renewed debate over its fundamental strategic purpose, following the decisions taken at the September 2014 NATO summit in Wales, where alliance members recommitted to NATO’s three great post-Cold War purposes: collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security. How will the alliance balance these potentially competing priorities as it navigates the effects of defence austerity, the challenges of burden- and risk-sharing, a changing security environment on its eastern border, and a desire to retrench after eleven years of war in Afghanistan? What roles will shared norms, public opinion, commonly perceived threats, internal reforms, relations with the EU, and economic interdependence play in shaping NATO’s future direction? Will NATO concentrate more of its efforts on regional security and Article V defence, or will it continue to build its global presence and expand its mission mandate?​

A World Without NATO - Professor Mark Webber (University Of Birmingham)

2 February 2015, 6pm, UCL SSEES Room 432 


An influential line of argument has suggested that NATO is in decline and less and less relevant to security provision. Professor Webber will argue that such an outcome would be highly detrimental. NATO's core function - of keeping the peace in Europe - tends to be taken for granted. Take it away, therefore, and a cornerstone of European, indeed, international order would be removed.

Pride versus Prejudice: Ethnicity, National Identity, and Xenophobia in Russia - Professor Yoshiko Margaret Herrera (University of Wisconsin)

(Rescheduled) 16 March 2015, 6pm, 432 UCL SSEES

Professor Herrera's talk examines the relationship between ethnicity, national identity and xenophobia in Russia. Using data from 11,202 individuals in Russia collected in 2003-2004, she analyses the determinants of xenophobia toward five different groups: Roma, Chechens, Azerbaijanis, Muslims, and Americans. The research finds support for social dominance theory, and a positive relationship between Slavic ethnicity and xenophobia. By examining Russian national identity content and its effect on xenophobia, she argues that pride does not simply equal prejudice: particular types of national identity content predicted greater or lesser xenophobia depending on the target group. The analysis of the relationship between economic vulnerability and xenophobia uncovers some unexpected findings: higher income is associated with greater hostility toward most groups and, for most target groups, economic vulnerability does not increase xenophobia, suggesting little support for theories of economic threat and xenophobia in Russia. The talk concludes with a discussion of the recent trends in Russian nationalism, and the relationship between Russia and Europe.

Guardian Gaming Night: Video Games, the Military and Morality - UCL and The Guardian

9 April 2015, 7pm, The Guardian, London N1 9GU

Military shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield sell in their millions, dominating the charts and presenting a very particular view of war and how it is fought. Fans call it escapist entertainment, but with armies recruiting directly from gamer communities, and drone warfare becoming ever more automated and game-like, how long can developers absolve themselves of sociopolitical responsibility? Is it still OK to play at being soldiers in games that barely register the complex realities of the conflicts they represent? And what can more fantastical shooters like Halo, Destiny and Evolve tell us about the meaning of violence as interactive entertainment?

To discuss this issue, Guardian games editor Keith Stuart will be joined by:

  • Dr Felix Ciuta (UCL SSEES): lecturer and expert in geopolitics, the military and mass culture
  • Kyle Grayson (Newcastle University): lecturer and researcher who has written on drones, the "playstation mentality" and on the military in popular culture
  • Marcus Schulzke (Leeds University): currently researching the militarisation of video games and social media
  • Simon Parkin: a journalist who has investigated the relationship between arms manufacturers and military video game developers
  • Ed Stern (Splash Damage): a game narrative designer who has worked on several first-person shooters including Brink and the forthcoming Dirty Bomb
  • Tim Browne (ex-Codemasters): a designer on the acclaimed Operation Flashpoint series of military strategy shooters

For more information and to book, please visit the Guardian website

Autumn term 2014

"NATO After the Wales Summit: the Challenges of Providing Security in Central and Eastern Europe" Dr Jamie Shea, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges

29 October 2014 – Room 347, UCL SSEES, 4 pm

This event is now fully booked, those without tickets can queue outside the venue for any no-show seats


Dr Shea will discuss the major decisions adopted at the NATO Summit in Newport in the context of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. On the agenda will be the recalibration of NATO's Article 5, relations with Russia, the newly adopted Readiness Action Plan and its implications for East-European states in particular, as well as the future direction of NATO following the conclusion of its engagement in Afghanistan.


“A World Without NATO” Professor Mark Webber (University Of Birmingham)

This event has been rescheduled to 2 February 2015.



An influential line of argument has suggested that NATO is in decline and less and less relevant to security provision. Professor Webber will argue that such an outcome would be highly detrimental. NATO's core function - of keeping the peace in Europe - tends to be taken for granted. Take it away, therefore, and a cornerstone of European, indeed, international order would be removed.


‘Why Russia Matters’ James Nixey, Head of Russia and Eurasia Programme (Chatham House)

19 November 2014 - Room 347, UCL SSEES, 6pm

In recent years Russia has demonstrated that, despite internal opposition and dissent, it has returned to the world stage as one of the most influential states in global affairs. Vladimir Putin’s attempts to gather former Soviet republics in a Eurasian Union under Russian leadership provide a clear alternative to the European Union of liberal democracies. After Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, Ukraine remains divided and torn between Western and Eastern models of development and geopolitical association.

To coincide with the launch of a new MA at UCL SSEES in Russian and Post-Soviet Politics (subject to final approval), James Nixey, of Chatham House, will speak alongside Dr Peter Duncan on why Russia matters and why we need specialists who can analyse the politics and foreign policies of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the Baltic States and the other post-Soviet countries.

This event is ticketed (free entry). Please book at EventBrite

For anyone who is interested in receiving details of the new MA and unable to attend this event, please email l.walters@ucl.ac.uk to be added to the mailing list


 “The European Security Continuum: Inside-Out or Outside-In?” Dr Alistair Shepherd (University of Aberystwyth)

1 December 2014 – Room 432, UCL SSEES 6pm

In his talk, Dr Shepherd will argue that the views of the EU as a distinctive international security provider are being challenged by the blurring of the traditional internal-external security divide and the emergence of a European security continuum, which transcends geographic and bureaucratic boundaries. Significant friction continues to exist in the formulation and implementation of security policy as EU institutions and capabilities struggle to overcome the traditional architecture separating internal and external security.


"Illiberal Politics in Central Europe" Dr Jiří Pehe (NYU Prague)

Tuesday 2 December 2014 - Masaryk Senior Common Room, UCL SSEES 6.30pm

Jiří Pehe discusses the development of illiberal political forces in Central Europe from the Meciarism in Slovakia in 1990s to the more recent challenge posed to liberal models of politics by Viktor Orbán.
Jiří Pehe is a Czech political analyst and writer. He studied at Charles University and at Columbia University before working for Freedom House 1985 and worked for Freedom House and Radio Free Europe, where he was head of Central European Research and Analysis. From 1997 to 1999 he was director of the Political Cabinet in the office of President Václav Havel and continued to serve as Havel's external political advisor until the end of the president’s second and final term in 2003. Since 1999 Pehe has been the director of New York University in Prague.

Spring Term 2014

Political Risk Analysis: Methods and Careers

Dr Carlo Gallo, Founder & Director, Enquirisk

24 February 2014

Autumn Term 2013

CEPSI Seminar: European Union or Eurasian Union? Eastern partnership countries‘ dilemma

Monday 14 October 2013

Speaker: Professor Ramunas Vilpisauskas (Director of the Institute of Foreign Relations and Political Studies, Vilnius)

The talk will focus on the recent developments in the Eastern partnership programme of the EU and reforms in the countries which participate in the programme. It will discuss the possible consequences of implementing association agreements with EU or joining the Eurasian customs union, which has been presented as an alternative to European integration. 

CEPSI Roundtable: Czech politics after the election - turning left or melting down?

Monday 28 October 2013

Speakers: Dr Sean Hanley (UC SSEES), Dr Tim Haughton (University of Birmingham),  Katya Kocourek (Economist Intelligence Unit).

Czech voters go to the on 25-26 October polls in early elections, which are widely expected to see a clear victory for parties of the left. Voters’ frustration over corruption and austerity may, however, spring surprises on established parties across the political spectrum. In this roundtable, specialists on Czech politics discuss the election results, the likely shape of the Czech Republic’s next government and the country's future political direction.


CEPSI Seminar: Reluctant donors? The international development policies of Central and East European states

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Speaker: Dr Simon Lightfoot (University of Leeds) 

Chair: Dr Sean Hanley (UCL SSEES)

Dr Simon Lightfoot discusses the motivations and commitments that have led CEE states in the EU to create international development policies. He will also examine the domestic politics of aid in CEE and the links between aid and CEE states’ foreign policies. It will focus, in particular, on CEE states’ development engagement with post-Soviet and Central Asian states in light of the development-security nexus and issues of foreign policy influence in the region.

For the most part we can see these states as 'reluctant donors', although recent events such as the Czech Republic becoming a member of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee highlight that some CEE states may be taking a different course.

Spring Term 2013

Understanding Serbia: The Varying Effects of European Integration and International Diffusion

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Professor Milada Anna Vachudova (University of North Carolina)

While Serbia has responded to international pressure in areas such as international criminal law and Europeanization of political party platforms, there is considerable stasis in many other important spheres; mostly intractable are corruption, low civic engagement, partial economic reform, and ongoing problems with Kosovo. Why has international diffusion worked in some areas but not in others? We argue that the existing scholarship has been unable to explain fully Serbia's political contradictions because it has focused either solely on rational behaviour of political actors, or on larger issues of norms and identity that prevented structural change. In this paper we propose to make sense of political change in Serbia by taking seriously both theoretical lenses. We concede that political actors make rational political calculations, but they do so within a dense normative social environment that constitutes their preferences. In order to explain fully Serbian political action, we show how local actors pursued consequentalist behaviour, but it was conditional on broad acceptance of shared normative frames. Where international pressure collided with domestic norms, it was less effective, and policy change more fleeting.

Can Russia Modernise? : Sistema, Power Networks and Informal Governance

Monday 18 March 2013

Book Launch

Speaker: Professor Alena Ledeneva (UCL SSEES) 

Chair: Professor Geoffrey Hosking (UCL SSEES) 

Discussant: Sir Timothy Lankester KBE

Alena Ledeneva discusses informal power operates in contemporary Russia in conversation with Geoffrey Hosking and Tim Lankester, concentrating Vladimir Putin's system of governance - the sistema. She will present ideas and research findings for her newly published book Can Russia Modernise? : Sistema, Power Networks and Informal Governance (Cambridge University Press, 2013). She argue networks of informal power allow leaders to mobilise and control, but lock politicians, bureaucrats and businesses into a system of informal deals, mediated interests and personalised bonds of loyalty which have important long-term consequences for Russia's prospects of modernisation.

Negotiating belonging: Russian and Polish LGBT migrants in Berlin

Monday 11 March 2013 (Cancelled - to be rescheduled)

Dr Richard Mole (UCL SSEES)

Richard Mole discusses early findings from project examining the experience of LGBT individuals from Central and East European countries who have migrated to Berlin and London. He focuses here in particular on issues of identity formation and transformation.

The Orthodox Church in the New Russia: A Force for Political Democratization?

Monday 4 March 2013

Professor John Burgess (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

John Burgess is James Henry Snowden Professor of Systematic Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He holds a PhD from the University of Chicago and is the author of The East German Church and the End of Communism (OUP, 1997). In 2011 Professor Burgess was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and a Luce Fellowship to spend 2011-12 in Russia, with a view to studying the post-communist resurgence of the Orthodox Church. Joint seminar with the Centre for Russian Studies.

Party transformation in European democracies

Monday 25 February 2013

Dr André Krouwel (Free University Amsterdam)

Political parties change and adapt regularly in response to changing circumstances. Until now these changes have frequently prompted both scholars and the media to suggest a whole new type of political party, and over time the number of models and types has proliferated. André Krouwel argues that this mélange of models is inadequate and presents findings from his new book, which uses a wide range of data to analyze the ideological, organizational, and electoral change in over a hundred European parties in fifteen different Europe countries between 1945 and 2010.

Why Greece Failed, and How: An Explanation by Mechanisms

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Dr Takis Pappas (European University Institute)

For decades, scholars have tried to explain how poor, non-democratic states develop into prosperous, pluralist ones and how rich, democratic states create political high quality institutions. There is, however, a pressing need to know how developed states their may follow a reverse course by misusing their institutions. Takis Pappas discusses the case of Greece and offers a unified theoretical explanation of the long-term causes and mechanisms that have tipped the country into its current political and economic crisis. Arguing against both cultural and institutional interpretations, he suggests that the roots of the crisis are to be found in Greece's development how over recent decades as a populist democracy. He concludes by considering the wider implications of the Greek including its relevance for Eastern Europe.

Understanding Poland's Palikot Movement

Monday 4 February 2013

Dr Ben Stanley (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw)

The emergence of the Palikot Movement was the major surprise of the 2011 parliamentary elections in Poland. Its entry into parliament caught observers and politicians alike by surprise, and consensus over its nature has proven elusive. Is it a party of the left? Is it a single-issue anti-clerical party? Is it an anti-establishment populist party? Or is it simply a vehicle for the ego of its founder? This talk presents preliminary research for a forthcoming paper which seeks to understand the role played by the Palikot Movement in the Polish party system.


Autumn Term 2012

Ideas and Interests in Russian Foreign Policy: The Medvedev Chapter

Monday 10 December 2012

Dr Pete Duncan (UCL SSEES)

Pete Duncan discusses the evolution of Russian Foreign Policy under one-term President Dmitrii Medvedev and considers how the return of Vladmir Putin to the Kremlin as head of state may affect Russia's external relations.

· Download presentation (PDF)

Explaining "Late" Lustration in Post-Communist States: The Polish Case in Comparative Perspective

Monday 3 December 2012

Professor Aleks Szczerbiak (University of Sussex)

Despite the existence of a large comparative literature on lustration, the late implementation in Poland of screening laws to prevent those involved with communist-era repression from playing a role in public life remains a puzzle - as does the intense, ongoing politicisation of the issue. Aleks Szczerbiak discusses the apparent anomalies of the Polish cases and how it might lead us to revise conventional views about how and why lustration occurs.

· Download presentation (PDF)

· Listen to podcast

Democracy in Retreat? Romania's Winter of Discontent and Summer of Crisis

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Roundtable Event

Speakers: Professor Alan Smith (UCL SSEES), Dr Sherrill Stroschein (UCL Department of Political Science), Dr Sergiu Gherghina (University of Leiden), Dr Emanuel Coman (University of Oxford), Dr Radu Cinpoeş (Kingston University)Chair: Dan Brett (Open University)

Since January 2012, Romanian political life has been marked by a series of crises and street protests. The roundtable discussed the protests during the winter and the political crisis that followed in the summer as politicians sought to exploit the situation, culminating in the failed attempt by the USL alliance to impeach President Basescu. It will consider the background to the crisis and look at the role that various actors have played within it. Organised jointly with the Romanian-Moldovan Studies Group.

· Listen to podcast

Autumn in Russia. Putin's Resistance to Change

Monday 26 November 2012

Professor Marie Mendras (Sciences Po, Paris)

Vladimir Putin has been in power for 13 years and intends to stay there as long as he can. His system of rule is based on weak public institutions and strong unaccountable networks. Social protest against political and economic corruption has awakened the Russian public to the many shortcomings of the current regime. So far, the authorities have responded by tightening control and hindering the formation of a viable alternative. Marie Mendras is Professor at Sciences Po, Paris , Research Fellow with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Associate Fellow at Chatham House.

Ethnic Struggle, Coexistence, and Democratization in Eastern Europe

Monday 29 October 2012

Dr Sherrill Stroschein (UCL Department of Political Science)

Problems of democracy are magnified in societies divided on ethnic and religious lines, but Eastern Europe contains several states that navigated these problems during the 1990s. In Romania and Slovakia, protest by ethnic Hungarians brought concessions that they could not achieve through the ballot box. In this presentation Sherrill Stroschein discusses the findings in her recent book that such protest, although sometimes spilling into violence, accustomed ethnic minorities and ethnic majorities to each other's claims, leading to moderation which fostered democratic consolidation.

The European Radical Left and the Crisis: A Lost World or Still a World to Win?

Thursday 25 October 2012

Dr Luke March (University of Edinburgh)

Recent elections in countries such as Holland and Greece suggest that radical left may be making significant electoral and political inroads in Europe. Luke March surveys the evolution of parties of the radical left in both Western and Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War and assesses whether the global economic downturn and crisis of the Euro have truly enhanced their prospects.

Exit, Choice and Legacy: Patterns of Party Politics in Slovakia

Monday 22 October 2012

Dr Tim Haughton (University of Birmingham)

Tim Haughton re-evaluates the influence of historical factors, political choices and strategic incentives in Slovak party politics and asks if a definitive account of the shaping of the country's political landscape can now be given.

Mafia State

Monday 15 October 2012

Luke Harding (The Guardian)

Luke Harding discusses his experiences working as The Guardian's Moscow correspondent between 2007 and 2011 that inform his book Mafia State and reflects on the nature of power and politics in contemporary Russia.

Spring Term 2012

Poland and the EU: Pre-Accession Ideals versus Post-Accession Realities

Thursday 10 May 2012

Roundtable Event 

Speakers: Professor Alan Mayhew (Sussex European Institute), Dr Agnieszka Lada (Institute of Public Affairs, Poland), Dr Przemysław Bikup (Warsaw University), Professor Aleks Szczerbiak (Sussex European Institute) 

Chair: Dr Seán Hanley (UCL SSEES)

During its eight years as an EU member, Poland has made its mark as the largest of the post-communist states to join the EU. At one point, it was characterised as the EU's 'new awkward partner', particularly when parties that were highly critical of European integration were in government in 2005-7. In recent years, however, the Civic Platform-led government has tried to build closer relations with Poland's EU allies in what some commentators have dubbed Poland's 'second return to Europe'. This includes holding the EU's rotating presidency in the second half of last year, widely praised by many in the European institutions, and signing up to the European fiscal treaty even though Poland is not yet part of the euro zone.

Poland has also made much of the fact that it is only EU economy not to fall into recession during the global financial crisis. However, there are many critics of the government's European policy including the Law and Justice party, Poland's largest opposition party, which in the European Parliament has aligned itself with the British Conservatives in an anti-federalist party federation. Presentations at this round table will discuss the recent Polish EU presidency, the activity of the Polish government on European issues, the effectiveness of Polish MEPs, continued Euroscepticism in Poland, and Poland's economic prospects in the light of the ongoing Euro zone crisis and fiscal treaty.

Domestic Reform in the Balkans: What can be accomplished?

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Professor Milada Anna Vachudova (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Professor Vachudova will discuss the success of democratic and economic reforms across the EU-eligible post-communist region over the last twenty years. After a survey of the theoretical literature on what domestic and international factors propel or hinder reform, she will take a closer look at the states in the Balkans and explore their development in the context of EU enlargement and leverage. She is especially interested in the role of political parties in determining the direction of political change, and in the challenge that corruption and organized crime present for democratic quality.

Customs Union or Association Agreement? Ukraine's Dilemmas and Responses

Monday 19 March 2012

Dr Kasia Wolczuk (University of Birmingham)

Both the EU and Russia have proposed advanced new forms of economic integration for the post-Soviet states, namely the EU Association Agreements, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, and the Russian-led Customs Union. What does this mean for Ukraine? Does it need to choose between Russia and the EU? Or can Ukraine continue to play off one side against one another to gain concessions from both? Dr Wolzuk analyses Ukraine's responses examining key domestic actors and their preferences and decision-making process against the backdrop of Russian and EU strategies towards Ukraine.

Gay East European Migrants in Berlin: Between Ethno-National and Gay Diasporas

Monday 12 March 2012

Dr Richard Mole (UCL SSEES)  

Attitudes towards homosexuality in Eastern Europe are largely negative. Migration thus offers gays a means of escape and self-realisation as well as a brighter economic future. However, there has so far been little research on the relationship between migration and sexuality or the experience of gay migrants from the former communist countries. When migrants arrive in a destination country, it is often taken for granted that they can plug into diaspora networks. However, ethno-national identity is often used to justify anti-gay rhetoric and violence. For gay migrants, traditional diaspora networks are thus often unavailable. To avoid alienation, gay migrants therefore either have to hide their sexuality or establish parallel, quasi-diasporic (often virtual) networks of their own.

Russia after the Presidential Elections - What Future for Putin's Sistema?

Monday 5 March 2012

Roundtable Event

Speakers: Dr Pete Duncan (UCL SSEES), Professor Alena Ledeneva (UCL SSEES) Dr Andrew Wilson (UCL SSEES), Oksana Antonenko (EBRD), Dr Roy Allison (University of Oxford) Chair: James Nixey (Chatham House)

Corruption, Anti-Corruption and Politics: The Case of Poland

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Dr Dan Hough (University of Sussex)

 Dr Hough will discuss some of his current research in progress for a book project on corruption and democratic governance, focusing on the case of Poland.

The Past in Post-Milošević Serbia: From Confrontation to Trivialisation

Monday 6 February 2012

Dr Eric Gordy (UCL SSEES)

Dr Gordy discusses ongoing research on the changing ways in which the Milošević era has been remembered in contemporary Serbia, with a particular focus on war crimes trials at the International Criminal Tribunal.

Autumn Term 2011

Organised Crime from the Iron Curtain to the European Union: The Making of Modern Day 'Mafias' in East Central Europe

Monday 5 December 2011

Dr Kelly Hignett (University of Swansea)

The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe was accompanied by an apparent explosion in organised crime across the region. On closer inspection however, many of the underworld figures who came to prominence after 1989 had criminal histories pre-dating the fall of communism. Drawing on evidence and examples from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, Dr Hignett considers the evolution of the criminal underworld in East Central Europe from its roots in the political-criminal nexus established during communist rule, to the impact of the collapse of communism and post-communist transition on forms of organised crime in the region.

Paths to "Centrist Populism"? Understanding the Emergence of Anti-Establishment Reform Parties in Central and Eastern Europe

Monday 28 November 2011

Dr Allan Sikk & Dr Seán Hanley (both UCL SSEES)

The speakers discuss their research a newly emerging group of parties seen in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) over the last 10-15 years, which combine anti-establishment appeal with support for moderate reform policies. Using Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) technique they identify three broad scenarios leading such parties to break through, which combine different patterns of corruption, unemployment and the failure by pro-market governing parties.

· Listen to podcast

Writing Russia's Future: Approaches to Forecasting from the Soviet Decline to the Present Day

Monday 21 November 2011

Dr Edwin Bacon (Birkbeck College)

Anticipating the future of Russia and the fate of Soviet communism were significant preoccupation of analysts almost since the very foundation of the Soviet state. In this seminar Dr Bacon discusses varied approaches developed to understanding the possible demise of the USSR and how these have been carried forward to efforts to predict the trajectory of contemporary Russia.

Dealing with Successor Parties: Electoral Strategies and Historical Legacies in Post-Authoritarian Democracies

Monday 31 October 2011

Professor Giovanni Capoccia (University of Oxford)

Poland's 2011 Parliamentary Elections: Deepening the Divide?

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Roundtable Event

Speakers: Professor Tomasz Mickiewicz (UCL SSEES), Professor Aleks Szczerbiak (University of Sussex) 

Chair: Professor George Kolankiewicz (UCL SSEES)

Parliamentary elections to both the Sejm (lower house) and the Senate will be held in Poland on 9 October 2011. Having convincingly won the 2007 election the liberal Civic Platform (PO), led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, is aiming to become the first major governing party to win re-election since the fall of communism. However, it faces determined opposition from the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party and sometimes volatile electorate. Leading specialists on Polish politics, society and economy provide expert analysis of the results and their political and policy implications for Poland and Europe. Co-organised with Sussex European Institute (SEI)

· Listen to podcast

Explaining the Use of Russian Courts: Why Go to Courts if they are Not Trusted?

Friday 30 September 2011

Professor Kathryn Hendley (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Professor Kathryn Hendley focuses on the role of law in contemporary Russia, with a particular emphasis on how Russians make use of both formal legal institutions and informal mechanisms to resolve disputes. In this seminar she presents findings about users of the Russian court system related to research on access to justice she will be conducting in 2011/12 as a Fulbright Professor at Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Professor Hendley is William Voss-Bascom Professor of Law and Political Science. She is a graduate of Georgetown, UCLA and California-Berkeley. Her research and teaching are interdisciplinary. She holds a joint appointment at the Law School and the Political Science department and has also served as a consultant legal reform in Russia for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Bank in their work on. She previously served as the Director of the Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia. Co-organised with the Centre for Language Based Area Studies (CEELBAS).

Spring Term 2011

Anti-Corruption. The Indirect "Big Bang" Approach

Monday 21 March 2011

Professor Bo Rothstein (Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg)

Although anti-corruption has been a central topic for more than a decade, studies show that the results of anti-corruption efforts in many developing and transition countries are meagre. Other new studies show that the introduction of representative democracy is not a cure for systemic corruption. This may be caused, Bo Rothstein argues, by a theoretical misspecification of the problem. Most anti-corruption efforts have been built on the idea that corruption should be understood as a so called "principal agent" problem. Offering a critique of this approach, he argues that systemic corruption should instead be understood as a "social dilemma" or "collective action problem". If this is so, the policy recommendations that will follow are very different from those usually made.

Size Matters: Understanding the Effect of Country Size on Political Phenomena

Monday 21 February 2011

Dr Allan Sikk (UCL SSEES)

Dr Sikk considers how and why the bias of political science towards the experience of larger countries has (mis)shaped our understanding of political processes. He also reflects on the wider importance of polity size as a factor in politics.

The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies

Monday 31 January 2011 (This event was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances)

Professor Giovanni Capoccia (University of Cambridge)

Professor Capoccia discusses how the growing political science research on historical case studies - and in particular, historical democratization in Europe - is enriching our wider understanding of comparative democratization, institution building and regime change.

· Download presentation (PDF)

Live Fast, Die Young: The Short and Curious Life Cycle of New Parties in the New Europe

Thursday 20 January 2011

Professor Kevin Deegan-Krause (Wayne State University, USA)

Professor Deegan-Krause discusses the rise and fall of new populist parties in Central and Eastern Europe.

How Do Think Tanks Think - And What Can Academics Learn From Them?

Monday 17 January 2011

Dr Andrew Wilson (UCL SSEES)

Dr Wilson discusses the differing ways in which academics and thinktankers approach political research and what they can learn from each other, drawing on his own experience as specialist on post-Soviet politics working both in academic and as a senior researcher with the European Council for Foreign Relations.


Autumn Term 2010

Political Opposition in Russia: Strategies and Prospects

Monday 6 December 2010

Dr David White (University of Birmingham)

Dr White discusses the nature of political opposition in contemporary Russia and asks what strategies remain open to opposition forces in the face of increasingly robust authoritarianism.

· Download presentation (PDF)

Women in the European Parliament: The Case of the New Member States

Monday 29 November 2010

Dr Cristina Chiva (University of Salford)

Cristina Chiva examines candidate recruitment for the European Parliament from a gendered perspective in six post-communist EU member states: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. She discuss three determinants of women's legislative recruitment: electoral systems, party ideology and party positions on European integration. Party position views on European integration emerges as one of the key factors underpinning candidate selection on the basis of gender.

Rise of Notions: IR Theory and Strategy Video Games

Monday 22 November 2010

Dr Felix Ciută (UCL SSEES)

Dr Ciută discusses the implicit models of international peace and security to be found in popular video and computer games and considers their implications.

The Organization of New Parties in Western Europe

Monday 15 November 2010

Dr Nicole Bolleyer (University of Exeter)

Dr Bolleyer discusses how new parties have pioneered new forms of political organization in West Europe, presenting some of the findings from a forthcoming book.

Going in the Right Direction: A Roundtable on the Czech and Slovak Elections of 2010 and their Aftermath

Monday 25 October 2010

Dr Tim Haughton (University of Birmingham), Dr Karen Henderson (University of Leicester), Dr Seán Hanley (UCL SSEES)

General elections in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in May and June this year both brought surprise electoral setbacks for the centre-left and the formation of two new centre-right governments. Voters in both countries also turned away from established parties, producing some unexpected exits for some parties and the surprise emergence of new parties. Organised jointly with the British Czech and Slovak Association

Building Knowledge Economies in China and Russia

Monday 4 October 2010

Professor Harvey Balzer (Georgetown University)

Professor Balzer discusses the development of knowledge economies in China and Russia focusing on education, science and technology. Despite common aspirations, the challenges faced by the two states are both very similar and very different. Organised jointly with the UCL SSEES Centre for Comparative Economics.

· Download presentation (PDF)

Spring Term 2010

The Legacies of Totalitarianism: Political Theory After Totalitarianism

Monday 15 March 2010

Aviezer Tucker (CEVRO Institute, Prague)

Aviezer Tucker argues that the life, death and resurrection cycle of the totalitarian elite explains many of the legacies of totalitarianism. He considers how the pre-1989 bureaucratic elite transformed its naked liberties under communism into property rights, creating creation of a class with wealth, security and family continuity. This, he suggests, distinguishes post-totalitarianism from post-authoritarianism. He then presents a general theory of post-totalitarian justice as rough justice: post-totalitarian governments can only meet demands to rights the wrongs of totalitarianism by compromising on the accuracy of justice. The resulting theory of post-totalitarianism examines the implications of the post-totalitarian experience on political philosophy and theory in general. There is much more to learn from the end of totalitarianism and its aftermath, he suggests, than the weakness of Marxism and the absurdity of command economies without market mechanisms.

· Download presentation (PDF)

Anti-Corruption. The Indirect "Big Bang" Approach

Monday 1 March 2010 (This event was cancelled due to illness)

Professor Bo Rothstein (Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg)

Although anti-corruption has been a central topic for more than a decade, studies show that the results of anti-corruption efforts in many developing and transition countries are meagre. Other new studies show that the introduction of representative democracy is not a cure for systemic corruption. This may be caused, Bo Rothstein argues, by a theoretical misspecification of the problem. Most anti-corruption efforts have been built on the idea that corruption should be understood as a so called "principal agent" problem. Offering a critique of this approach, he argues that systemic corruption should intead be understood as a "social dilemma" or "collective action problem". If this is so, the policy recommendations that will follow are very different from those far been proposed by the international "anti-corruption regime". Organised jointly with the SSEES Centre for the Study of Comparative Economies

Electoral System Choice During Democratization: East-Central Europe in Comparative Perspective

Monday 22 February 2010

Dr Alan Renwick (University of Reading)

· Download presentation (PDF)

Is EU Accession an 'End of History'? East Central Europe After Twenty Years

Monday 8 February 2010

Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (Hertie School of Governance)

Have postcommunist countries been backslidng on rule of law and democracy since entering the EU? Is there evidence to back the conclusion of some analysts that the EU accession offers a highly effective type of conditionality? Mungiu-Pippidi looksin depth at cases where challenges to both the rule of law and EU influence were at a maximum to generate some explanations (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia); she then presents a quantitative model testing explanatory factors for rule of law in a more systematic comparative analysis across all 28 postcommunist cases.

· Download presentation (PDF)

The Transformation of Old and New Parties in Europe: From Catch-All to Business Firm Parties

Monday 1 February 2010

Dr André Krouwel (Free University, Amsterdam)

· Download presentation (PDF)

Nationalism and Pragmatism in Russian Foreign Policy From Yeltsin to Putin

Monday 25 January 2010

Dr Pete Duncan (UCL SSEES)

Pete Duncan discusses the evolution of Russian foreign policy over the past two decades examining taking as case studies issues of CIS integration, arms and nuclear technology transfer and NATO enlargement.

Opposition Strategies in Russia in Comparative Perspective

Monday 18 January 2010 (This event was cancelled due to illness)

Dr David White (University of Birmingham)

Organised political opposition in Russia is in crisis, incapable of mounting a serious challenge to the hegemonic party of power, United Russia. David White examines opposition party strategies in one-party dominant regimes. The way in which dominance is maintained and the environment in which opposition parties have operated in one-party dominant systems such as Japan and Mexico suggest that there are sufficient commonalities with the Russian case to make comparison a useful exercise.

Autumn Term 2009

Homophobia in Eastern Europe Monday 30 November 2009

Speaker: Dr Richard Mole (UCL SSEES) 

Discussant: Dr Nicola Mai (London Metropolitan University)

Richard Mole examines the increase in homophobia in Latvia, analysing, in particular, the influence of national identity on attitudes towards gays and lesbians.

· Download presentation (PDF)

Good Morning Slovakia! A documentary of the November 1989 Revolution

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Dr Fedor Gál

Fedor Gál, one of the leading figures in Slovakia's November 1989 and co-founder and first chairman of the Public Against Violence (VPN) citizens' movement which emerged during the revolution, will be discussing the events of the period and their significiance. His talk will be accompanied by a first UK showing of his new documentary on the revolution and the VPN Good Morning Slovakia!. (in Slovak with English subtitles).

Organised jointly with the British Czech and Slovak Association and UCL SSEES Centre for the Study of Central Europe.

May Contain Nuts? The British Conservatives and their East-Central European Allies

Monday 2 November 2009

Dr Seán Hanley (UCL SSEES)

Seán Hanley discusses the role of East-Central European right-wing parties in the the new European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) grouping formed with the British Tories in the European parliament. Media criticism of the East-Central European parties' extremism has, he suggests, sometimes been misplaced and largely misses other underlying issues which may prove problematic for longer-term the cohesion of the ECR.

· Download presentation (PDF)

Preferences, Presidencies and Vulnerabilities: Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic's Choices for Europe

Monday 26 October 2009

Speaker: Dr Tim Haughton (University of Birmingham) 

Discussant: Dr Seán Hanley (UCL SSEES)

Tim Haughton examines the factors shaping the preferences of Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic for the EU. Whilst ideology, economic dependency and the influence of powerful interest groups tell part of the story, the key to explaining how these these state form their preferences, he suggests, lies in their vulnerabilities and (perceived) weakness.

· Download presentation (PPT)

(Please attribute to ESRC Today if cited)