Ivan Ulises Kentros Klyszcz, Winter 2020

My research stay at MGIMO University in May 2020 was a very rewarding experience. For two weeks, I was based in Moscow, where I met with researchers, conducted interviews, used the local libraries and joined highly engaging academic events, including courses for MGIMO students. Whilst I arranged my plans for research before arrival, it was Prof. Julia Nikitina’s insight and help that truly made this stay a pivotal moment for my PhD journey.

As a doctoral candidate, I focus on the Russian North Caucasus, so for two weeks, I was able to benefit from a wealth of information that I would not have been able to access from outside of the country. I benefitted from the Russian State Library and the library of MGIMO, as well as from bookstores and other venues. I was also able to meet with several Moscow-based experts on the North Caucasus. The conversations and interviews with them were very informative and each gave me an invaluable new insight into my case study.

More generally, this stay proved very valuable to connect with other specialists in my area, as well as with those from related fields. I was a participant at the seminar of the Institute for International Studies at MGIMO and at a seminar of the European Council of Foreign Relations, hosted by the Higher School of Economics. These excellent discussions and presentations were enriching and gave me a better insight into the academic activities of these institutions.

While these academic activities kept my schedule full, I was still able to enjoy some of my favourite spots in town. Moscow is one of my most beloved cities in the world, so it was a delight to return to it during a milder-than-usual late winter season.

Unfortunately, the very end of my stay coincided with the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. As I left the country, new public safety measures came into place, and, a few days after my departure, MGIMO shifted its activities to online teaching. Whilst this did not affect my stay, it did make evident that unforeseen events can happen and potentially derail research trips. I take this as a lesson for future fieldwork.

In sum, I am grateful to the BEAR Network and Prof. Julia Nikitina for this valuable research stay. Undoubtedly, my two weeks in Moscow this March contributed plenty to both my research and my development as an early-career scholar.

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