Konferenssit ja seminaarit

Liberation – Freedom – Democracy? 1918–1968–2018

Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia underwent tremendous changes throughout the last century. The thorny path did not always lead from liberation to freedom or democracy. All of the countries of the region were faced with numerous advancements and setbacks in various political, economic, social and cultural arenas. The 2018 Aleksanteri Conference aims to discuss these issues via international scholarly dialogue in a multidisciplinary comparative setting. The main themes of the conference concern: Changing Spatial Contexts, Systemic Transformations, Freedom of Expression and Protest, Societal Values.

In 2018 we have multiple commemorations of historical events that shaped the development of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia, including:

1918 – the end of the Great War, and the disintegration of old Empires drew a new map of Europe and Eurasia, providing radically new possibilities for societal evolution.
1968 – the year which can be remembered not only for the crushing of “socialism with a human face”, but also as the beginning of welfare socialism and the socialist market economy strengthening entrepreneurialism and individualism – and, as such, the beginning of the end of the communist system.

These, and other events which will be marked by commemorations in 2018, bore consequences in the spatial context, on the idea of the nation state, and the perceptions of the most desirable societal system. These events constantly modified the key values of freedom and power-people relations. When we look back to these previous 100 years – we can ask ourselves: Did liberation mean freedom? Did freedom mean democracy? Did democracy bring security, well-being, and equality for the people? And is democracy irreversible?

Conference themes

Changing Spatial Contexts  

Empires and restructuring the post-imperial world
Regionalism, independence, secession
East-West: convergences and divergences
Territory and environment

Systemic Transformations  

Democracy and its rivals
Communism and its rivals
War and conflict
Current developments and new systemic challenges
Transnational diffusion of ideas, practices, and political cultures

Freedom of Expression and Protest  

Counter-culture and protest
Human rights, critical thinking, samizdat, dissidence
Media agency
Uses of history
Humor and irony as methods of resistance

Societal values  

Societal change
Well-being and social security

Key­note speak­ers

Opening words: Professor emerita Marju Lauristin, Tartu University
Professor Grzegorz Ekiert, Harvard University
Professor Stephen Hutchings, University of Manchester
Dr Maria Mälksoo, Brussels School of International Studies/University of Kent
Professor Susan Reid, Loughborough University
Professor Katrin Voltmer, University of Leeds
Professor Veljko Vujačić, European University at St. Petersburg


Detailed conference programme will be published on 10 September 2018. Please find below the programme outline and guidelines for sessions.


10:00-11:00 Guided tour at the Slavonic Library of the National Library of Finland

12:00- Registration and information desk open
Launching of the photo exhibitions
Venue: Small Hall, University of Helsinki Main Building, 4th floor, Fabianinkatu 33

13:00-13:30 Opening Ceremony
Opening words by Dr. Katalin Miklossy, chair of the organising committee and Professor Markku Kangaspuro, Director of the Aleksanteri Institute
Ceremonial speaker: Professor emerita Marju Lauristin, Tartu University

13:30-15:00 Plenary Session I
Professor Grzegorz Ekiert, Harvard University: From Communism to Authoritarianism via Democracy. The Puzzle of Political Transformations in East Central Europe
Professor Katrin Voltmer, University of Leeds: What democracy? Contesting the meaning of democracy during regime transformations

15:00-15:30 Coffee

15:30-17:00 Panel session I 

17:15-18:45 Panel session II

19:00-21:00 Reception hosted by the University of Helsinki


09:00- Registration and information desk open

09:00-10:30 Panel session III

10:30-11:00 Coffee

11:00-12:30 Plenary session II
Professor Veljko Vujačić, European University at St. Petersburg: The Persistent Appeal of Nationalism
Professor Susan Reid, Loughborough University: ’Palaces in Our Hearts’:  Caring for Khrushchevki

12:30-13:45 Lunch break

13:45-15:15 Panel session IV

15:30-17:00 Panel session V

17:15-18:15 Cultural event
Venue: ThinkCorner of the University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 4

18:30-20:00 Reception hosted by the City of Helsinki


09:30- Registration and information desk open

09:30-11.00 Panel session VI

11:00-11:30 Coffee break

11:30-13:00 Panel session VII

13:00-14:30 Lunch break

14:30 -16:00 Plenary session III
Dr Maria Mälksoo, Brussels School of International Studies/University of Kent: The Return of ‘Eastern Europe’ as a Normative Threat
Professor Stephen Hutchings, University of Manchester: Reframing Russia for the Global Mediasphere: From Cold War to ‘Information War’?

16:00-16:30 Closing Ceremony


The participants are kindly requested to register for the Conference by filling in the online registration form by 22 August 2018. When registering you will be required to pay the registration fee. The payment can be made using all major credit cards (Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard), by PayPal or with Finnish online banking services. Please have all the information ready when proceeding to the registration form. If you have any questions about payment, please contact .

Please note that the deadline for registrations is 22 August 2018, after which we will be compiling the Conference Programme. Please register by that date for your presentation to be included in the Programme.

The registration fee includes
The fee includes admission to all the scientific events of the Conference, Conference materials, free Wi-Fi, coffee/tea during the breaks listed in the Programme, and admission to the reception hosted by the University of Helsinki on 24 October and the reception hosted by the City of Helsinki on 25 October.

Cancellations and refunds
If you need to cancel your participation after you have registered or make any changes, please contact the Conference organisers at as soon as possible so that we can introduce changes to the Programme. Regrettably, we will not be able to offer refunds.

Confirmation of your registration
You will receive an automatic email confirming that you have registered successfully.

Registration for accompanying persons and observers
Accompanying persons and observers not presenting a paper are welcome to take part in the Conference. The registration process for observers and accompanying persons will open at the end of September. Registration fee for them is €25, which includes only admission to the scientific events of the Conference.

More information about re­gis­tra­tion & prac­tic­al­it­ies behind this link.

Con­tact the or­gan­isers

You can contact the conference organisers at . Please note that the conference secretariat will be on holidays in July 2018.

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Organisers: Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki in collaboration with the Russian Media Lab project, the Jean Monnet ‘East within Europe’ programme, and East Central European, Balkan and Baltic Studies (ECEBB) and the Centre of Excellence in Russian Studies ‘Choices of Russian Modernisation’.