Call for Papers: International workshop: (Para-)Military Violence, War Crimes in Post-Soviet Conflicts and Narratives of the Russo-Ukrainian War: New Avenues of Methodology and Research
Call for Papers:
(Para-)Military Violence, War Crimes in Post-Soviet Conflicts and Narratives of the Russo-Ukrainian War: New Avenues of Methodology and Research
Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
in cooperation with the Pilecki Institute, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention and the University of New Europe (UNE)
Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam (ZZF): May 21-23, 2024
Hebrew University of Jerusalem: May 28-29, 2024.
The first part of the workshop at the Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam will take place within the research framework KonKoop (Conflict and Cooperation in Eastern Europe: The Consequences of the Reconfiguration of Political, Economic, and Social Spaces since the End of the Cold War). It will primarily focus on the topic of (para-)military violence over a period of time starting with the collapse of the USSR till present.
The Mutiny of the Wagner group in summer 2023 has highlighted the significance of armed militias for understanding conflict, violence and war in the post-Soviet space. The dissolution of the USSR was preceded by the disintegration of the Soviet Army and the rise of armed groups, local strongmen and warlords in parts of the Caucasus, in Central Asia and in Moldova. From the 1990s onwards irregular formations of armed men played a significant role in various conflicts from Chechnya to the Donbas. These men, as well as the regular armed units of Russia used violence and committed war crimes in the conflicts following the dissolution of the USSR.
The workshop will assemble both those who have contributed to the ongoing discussion on methodological approaches in the study of violent groups, including ethical questions, as well as researchers who have already studied sources and collected data in the field. Presentations will include work on the conflicts of the late USSR and the 1990s as well as more recent studies about the Russian war against Ukraine (starting in 2014). The goal of the workshop is to gain a better understanding of the origins, the actors as well as the forms and consequences of irregular military violence from perestroika to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
The workshop language is English. Submissions should include a one-page abstract and a short CV.
Please send all materials by 15 January 2024 to alyona.bidenko [at] zzf-potsdam.de
Applications are welcome from scholars and nonacademic research professionals such as journalists and activists. Some of the participants travel costs will be reimbursed upon request.
In cooperation with the University of New Europe network a publication of some of the contributions is planned with transcript in the “New Europes” book series.
The Potsdam Workshop is supported by funds from the Federal Ministry of Research (BMBF)
The second part of the workshop at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will concentrate on the Russo-Ukrainian war and explore a range of topics related to how the war is narrated, constructed and interpreted by its immediate witnesses: refugees from Ukraine who left the country to various destinations, primarily to Europe and Israel.
Topics that we intend to discuss include but are not limited to the following:
I. History of the war seen from “within”
We look forward to discussing the major narrative strands in the stories about living in Ukraine during the war (possibly, under the Russian occupation), of flight/evacuation to other countries and of current refugeehood in the country of destination. We aim here at enhancing our understanding of the social reality, micropolitics of everyday life and larger social processes as all these were altered by the war.
Some of the foci in this discussion may include:
1) grass-root agency in the situation of war: where and how it is produced and sustained, how it facilitates micro-level social practices, how it shapes interaction in larger social networks and how it is inscribed in the workings of formal institutions or organizations;
2) various choices (practical, moral, political, linguistic, etc.) involved in people’s war-time experience contexts and how these choices reflect people’s individual and group-based political allegiances and humanitarian commitments;
3) individual and collective identity(ies) and their role in shaping people’s vision of the broader context of Russo-Ukrainian war, of their war-time experiences in Ukraine and later in their new host countries, as well as of the broader political agendas on the international level against which these identities are negotiated.
We are also looking forward to discussing methodologies underlying our oral history research with particular regard to the nature of our interviews and to some extent participant observation.
First, here we may focus on the ontologies of the texts produced in our work with particular regard to the following aspects:
a) “translatability” of the war experience, particularly of the trauma experience, and “conditions of felicity” under which communication of this experience becomes possible;
b) the role of individual and collective subjectivities invoked in people’s stories as categories of the scholarly analysis;
c) critique of the nature of oral narratives produced in a multiple-stage process of immediate perception and postponed reflection of the witnesses, as well as the interpretation on the part of researchers and their resulting value for the academic discourse;
d) crystallization of earlier “raw” testimonies into structured narratives with specific civil agendas, as well as various social, political and cultural factors that impact this process;
e) possible theoretical framings that allow oral narratives to become part of the academic discourse.
Second, we may discuss the place of our findings within the existing discourses in social sciences and humanities, such as “anthropology of emergency,” identity-and-agency theory, actor-network theory, anthropology of everyday life, genocide studies, Ukrainian studies, European studies, Israel studies, studies of colonialism and post-colonialism, diaspora and nationalism studies, aliyah studies, etc.
Third, we might give thought to how ethnographic and anthropological perspectives on the one hand provide the possibility of different framings of historical events and processes as compared to official documentary sources, but on the other, how they may complement each other to expand our perspective on the object of our study. In other words, how oral history may be integrated into the larger historical canon and how this synthesis may provide a more human-oriented perspective upon the war.
III. Further collaborative efforts
Last but not least, we are planning to discuss our further research around the theme of Russo-Ukrainian war, including development of joint projects, creation of cross-referenced archival depositories and establishing research networks with other academic institutions.
Applications are welcome from scholars and nonacademic research professionals. We particularly welcome researchers who have been doing oral history research with war-time Ukrainian refugees, as well as scholars in social sciences more broadly.
Application deadline: January 15, 2024.
Accommodation costs in Israel will be covered.
Semion Goldin (Hebrew U of Jerusalem), semyon.goldin [at] mail.huji.ac.il
Anna Kushkova (Hebrew U of Jerusalem), anna.kushkova [at] mail.huji.ac.il
Contact email: anna.kushkova [at] mail.huji.ac.il (Anna Kushkova)