Photo from Tartu University Narva College

The ‘Soft Power’ of the EU and Russia in Divided Societies

Due to COVID-19, the BEAR Narva Summer School at Narva College, University of Tartu, Estonia, originally scheduled for June 28-July 3, 2020, has been postponed until July 5-10, 2021. A summary of summer school activities can be found below.


Summer School Description

Since the beginning of state- and regime transformations in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, a central issue of democratic governance and regional security has been the design of inclusive democratic institutions and policies. The existence of various minorities, including those that have kin-states (Russia), has made this task particularly urgent. A rich body of scholarship has emerged about these questions, influenced significantly by Rogers Brubaker’s model of the “triadic nexus” between what he calls nationalizing states, national minorities, and external homelands. Most studies have also recognized the significance of European institutions, and some have adopted what David Smith (2002) called a “quadratic nexus” to include the European framework. In recent years, the question of the overlapping influences of both the EU and Russia in the region has attracted significant scholarly attention. The interplay of EU’s and Russia’s “soft power” produces tensions, but also engenders new identities among borderland communities.

This Summer School, organized the Jean Monnet BEAR Network (“Between the EU and Russia: Dimensions of Diversity and Contestation”) will address the dynamic of identity and the interplay of “soft powers”, paying close attention to the social and ethnopolitical movements and contestations in the region. Focusing on this zone of contact and contestation between the EU and Russia, the summer school’s main questions are the following:

• How does the “soft power” of the EU and Russia affect local perceptions of belonging and formation of identities of various minorities in the borderlands?

• How does EU integration or Russia’s attempts to reclaim the “compatriots” affect protest dynamics and the likelihood of conflict?

• To what extent are the claims and dynamics of social movements in one state in the region affected by those in neighbouring states, and with what ramifications for European integration?

• What are the similarities and differences in how societies in the EU, Russia and neighbouring countries cope with domestic social change, external threats and global challenges?

The one-week summer school programme consists of lectures and seminars, including thesis and research workshops for graduate students as well as lectures and discussions for civil society activists and the general public. The school will take place in Narva (at the University of Tartu Narva College), which is a border community between the EU and Russia, but also the most Russian-speaking city in the EU.



The programme of the summer school includes lectures and seminars by leading scholars from European, North-American and Russian universities, as well as presentations by politicians and civil society activists. The following lecturers have confirmed their participation:

Maksim Alyukov, Tyumen State University

Ammon Cheskin, University of Glasgow

Magdalena Dembinska, Université de Montréal

Piret Ehin, University of Tartu

Marina Kaljurand, Member of the European Parliament

Kristina Kallas, University of Tartu

Andrey Makarychev, University of Tartu

Viacheslav Morozov, University of Tartu

Mikhail Suslov, University of Copenhagen


Summer School organisers:

Dr. Kristina Kallas

Narva College, University of Tartu


Prof. Viacheslav Morozov

Johan Skytte Institute, University of Tartu

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