EAST Workshops – Spring 2017

Established in 2012, the EAST seminar series brings graduate students and established scholars to present ongoing research to the UvA community. Our schedule for Spring 2017 is below. All events take place at the Bushuis, Kloveniersbugwal 48, Amsterdam, at 17:00. You can find directions here.

For questions about any of the following events please contact Artemy Kalinovsky: a.m.kalinovsky [at] uva.nl

February 14, 2017 Bushuis F2.08B

Peter’s Horizons: Russia and the World in the Age of Peter the Great

Professor Willard Sunderland, University of Cincinnati

Tsar Peter “westernized” Russia, but did he do it the way we think he did? And what d
oes “westernization” mean anyway?  This talk offers a new look at how Russia changed during the reign of its greatest modern ruler.  image003

Willard Sunderland is Henry R. Winkler Professor of Modern History at the University of Cincinnati and co-editor of the journal Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. He is the author of Taming the Wild Field: Colonisation and Empire on the Russian Steppe (Cornell University Press, 2006) and The Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2014).


February 23, 2017 Bushuis F2.11B

Dr. Nariman Shelekpayev, Free University Berlin

Kazakhstan’s Wandering Capitals in the Twentieth Century

My research proposes that postcolonial theory be applied to an analysis of Astana, a post-soviet capital city, which has been approached by mainstream historiography and represented by its State as a city built from scratch. However, the city’s history (when informed by a postcolonial approach) may also be seen as the product of the Empire’s
‘protracted’ material and discursive construction, which was then inherited and  (re)appropriated by the post-Soviet nation-state of Kazakhstan. Astana (previously called Akmolinsk, Tselinograd, and Aqmola) had undergone remarkable spatial and so
cial  transformations since its foundation in the 19th century. Founded as an imperial outpost,it went through a series of modernization projects that made it into a transport node, the center of an agricultural region, and more recently, a capital city. The present research paper is based on archival material from the National Archives of Kazakhstan and the City Archives of Astana which date from the 1950s to the early 21st century. Overall, thisresearch is part of a larger project which aims to compare the material and symbolic construction of three contemporary capital cities analysed as spaces of (dis)continuities, tensions, and métissage between imperial and ‘national’ projects between 1850 and 2000.

Nari Shelekpayev is currently a Ph.D. Fellow in Residence at the Freie Universität Berlin. He is finishing his Ph.D. dissertation in Urban History at the Université de Montréal and is Associate Doctoral Fellow (2016-2019) at the International Research Group ‘Diversity’, co-financed  by the federal governments of Germany and Canada. Shelekpayev holds Master’s degree in Social Sciences from École des Hautes Études en Science Sociales (2013). His shelekpayev-2_makelloscurrent research focuses on the elaboration of capital cities between 1850s and 2000s in Brazil, Canada, and Kazakhstan in transnational and comparative perspectives. In 2015 he was a Ph.D. Scholar-in-Residence at the Canadian Center for Architecture. In addition to articles and chapters, he has edited a collective book ‘Empires, Nations and Private Lives: Essays on the Social and Cultural History of the Great War’ (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016) adopting a transnational approach to the history of the WWI and striving to apprehend its peripheral geographical spaces, particularly Central Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Since 2013 he has been part of the Central Eurasian Scholars & Media Initiative (CESMI), a Swiss non-governmental organisation that works to promote dialogue between the media and researchers studyingCentral Asia.

March 16, 2017 Bushuis F2.11B

Brezhnev and Brezhnevisms: New Directions 

Dr. Andrei Kozovoi (Lille)

Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1983) was the Soviet leader between the years 1964 and 1982. Despite his long tenure at the head of the USSR (18 years, the longest after Stalin), and several crucial episodes of Soviet history which are associated with his time (the removal of Khrushchev, the Kosygin reform, the Prague Spring uprising, the détente with the U.S., the intervention in Afghanistan), he remains a relatively obscure figure, whose era is often associated with the image of ’stagnation’. Andrei Kozovoi’s kozovoipresentation will be dealing with the historiography of «Brezhnev studies», and will focus upon the so-called «Brezhnev diaries» been recently published in Russia  (three volumes, including detailed commentary and notes of his Kremlin office receptionists). These documents bring several aspects of Brezhnev’s life and work to light , raising many questions and helping us  assess older sources. The appearance of theses sources helps explain why at least three historians (in the U.S., in Germany, and in France) are currently working on Brezhnev’s biography.

Born in the USSR, Andrei Kozovoi is an associate professor in Russian history and translation at Lille university. He specializes in the history of the cultural and cinematic Cold War, and he has published in French and in English, including Journal of Cold War Studies and Journal of Tourism history. He has also published several books for the general reader. His most recent work is Russia, reforms and dictatorships, 1953-2016 (Perrin, 2017). For a complete list of publications, see his page on Academia.edu.


April 6, 2017 Bushuis F.208B

No Man’s Land: War and Disability in Interwar Yugoslavia

Dr John Paul Newman –

The Yugoslav state of the interwar period was a child of the Great European War. It housed many war veterans who had served or fought in opposing armies (those of the Central Powers and the Entente) during the war. In many cases these war veterans carried into peace the divisions of the war years.But between the two contingents of South Slav war veterans there was a kind of middle ground, a ‘no man’s land’ occupied by veterans who did not fit into either side. The most prominent group in this middle ground were disabled veterans, South Slavs from either the Austro-Hungarian army or the Serbian army who had been permanently injured or disfigured during the war years. Yugoslavia’s war disabled cannot easily be categorized as either the ‘victor’ or ‘defeated’ parties in the new state: it was their disability rather than the common experience of serving in the same army that brought them together after 1918. The challenge for Yugoslavia’s disabled veterans was to find a vocabulary of shared rights and entitlements with which they could articulate their demnewman_illustrationands to the state, and also to find a common sense of the meaning of the war years and the meaning of their sacrifice. Collectively, Yugoslavia’s disabled veterans were subject to many conflicting forces: their desire to gain welfare and social provision from the state drew them together, but their experiences on opposing armies during the war pushed them apart. Disabled veterans of the Serbian army often wanted to celebrate and mark their sacrifice for liberation and unification, but their sense of festivity was tempered by their disability, and by the knowledge that the state’s culture of victory would fragment the disabled veteran movement in Yugoslavia, deepening the cleavages
between Serbian and Austro-Hungarian veterans, just as the culture of victory had deepened the cleavages in Yugoslavia more generally. On the other hand, there is evidence of institutionalized prejudices against disabled veterans of the Austro-Hungarian army, whose appeals for welfare were frequently dismissed since the veterans in question had not fought for ‘liberation and unification’, but were rather soldiers of a defeated enemy.

My paper will look at the experience of disabled veterans in the interwar kingdom of Yugoslavia, using this as a gateway to explore matters of the divisions caused by the First World War in Yugoslavia and the formation and evolution of disabled subjectivity in the state after 1918.

Dr John Paul Newman is Senior Lecturer in Twentieth-century Eur11951137_10154188364535476_4574414018874903877_nopen History at Maynooth University, Ireland. He is the author of Yugoslavia in the Shadow of War: Veterans and the Limits of State Building, 1903-1945 (CUP, 2015), and the co-editor (with Mark Cornwall) of Sacrifice and Rebirth: The Legacy of the Last Habsburg War (Berghahn, 2016), and (with Julia Eichenberg) The Great War and Veterans’ Internationalism (Palgrave Macmillan: 2013). Until September 2011, he was an ERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow working on the project ‘Paramilitary Violence after the Great War’, to which he contributed a case study of violence in the Balkans.

Recently, he has begun preparing a large research project on victorious societies and cultures of war victory in twentieth century Europe. He is also interested in the history of disability and disabled war veterans in Central Europe and the Balkans, and the comparative histories and historical trajectories of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1993.

April 12, 2017 Bushuis 2.11B


From Bucharest to Constantinople with Love and Commerce: An Artisan’s Journey from 1817

(jointly organised with Travel Cultures and European Studies)

Dr. Vintilă-Ghiţulescu will present the memoirs of Dumitrache Merişescu, an artisan from Bucharest who travelled from Bucharest to Constantinople in various guises. The paper will explore firstly thiGhitjulescus young man’s initiation into both amorous and commercial liaisons, and secondly, the manner in which he reinvents himself in the course of his journey, adopting new clothes and learning new languages. These memoirs, unpublished and hitherto unknown to
historians, demonstrate how a mobile identity is fashioned across the Balkan region, uniting people of the same religion (Orthodox Christians) who find a common cultural language even if they belong to different ethnic groups.

Constanţa Vintilă-Ghiţulescu is Principal Investigator for the ERC project Luxury, Fashion and Social Status in Early Modern South-Eastern Europe (http://luxfass.nec.ro) hosted byimage001 New Europe College, Bucharest, and Senior Researcher at the “Nicolae Iorga” Institute of History, Bucharest. She was a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, in 2015-2016. She is the author of many books, including Liebesglut: Liebe und Sexualität in der rumänischen
Gesellschaft 1750-1830
, Frank&Timme, Berlin, 2011; Im Schalwar und mit Baschlik. Kirche, Sexualität, Ehe und Scheidung in der Walachei im 18. Jarhundert, Frank&Timme, Berlin, 2013; From işlic to top hat: fashion and luxury at the gate of the Orient, Iniciativa Mercurio, Valadolid, 2011; (as editor)From Traditional Attire to Modern Dress: Modes of Identification, Modes of Recognition in the Balkans (XVIth-XXth Centuries), Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011.


May 4, 2017 Bushuis F2.08B

Practices of Togetherness – Jacek Kuroń, Affective Community and Political Opposition in the 1970s Warsaw

Nguyen Vu Thuc Linh – European University Institute, Florence.

My dissertation is entitled ‘Practices of Togetherness: Jacek Kuroń, Affective Community and Political Opposition in Post-War Poland, 1964-2004’ and argues that emotional bonds and social practices of care are central for understanding dissident cultures and communist regimes as lived realities. Building on the increasingly popular field of the history of emotions, I seek to provide a framework to understand communism – beyond the Polish context – through its negation and immanent critique enacted by the activists. These activists played a crucial role in the Solidarity movement and the transition of 1989 and became important figures in post-socialist public life in Poland and beyond (as many were also dispersed into dikorasporic milieus in Western Europe and the US). My guiding hypothesis is that the close study of one of the major activist milieus in Eastern Europe allows historians to think of political activity as involving forms of emotional attachment and care. The case study of post-war dissidence can teach us that political activism and commitment cannot be narrowly viewed through the lens of rational critique and strategic action as it is rooted in immediate bonds of friendships and loyalty. The talk will be based on the third chapter of the dissertation.

Through extensive archival research (e.g. at the Institute of National Remembrance [Secret Police Archives] and the Polish Scouting Association Archives), oral history (more than thirty interviews conducted in Europe and the US), the official, émigré and underground press and ego-documents (e.g. unpublished letters by key activists), I trace the lives and self-images of historical actors illuminating the role played by powerful loyalties among friends in mobilizing and universalizing rebellious feelings. By weaving in the private with the public, I argue, individual contexts and interlocking life stories matter deeply in trying to understand the continuities, shifts and fissures within milieus and their reception of official party politics. Paradoxically, while being politically more fragile, social milieus, thanks to intense emotional bonds, proved more enduring than state institutions under communism.nguyenvu-photo

Nguyen Vu Thuc Linh is in the final year of her PhD in the History and Civilization Department at the European University Institute in Florence. Linh is also teaching contemporary history in the Asia Program at Sciences Po Campus du Havre.


 FRIDAY May 12, 2017 Bushuis F2.11B 15:00-17:00

México in the Third World: reconnecting the Western Hemisphere to the history of the Global Cold War.

(organised together with Modern History)

Until recently, Latin America’s Cold War was largely treated as the history of the mikoyan_dazed_with_tacocontinent’s relations with the United States. The history of this relationship was predominantly analyzed from an American perspective, largely neglecting Latin American countries’ point of view, experiences and agency. We currently have scarce knowledge regarding Latin American relations with the broader Third World, the Socialist Bloc or even the Non-Aligned Movement. At the same time, we do not know much about the role that Latin American countries played in shaping debates on crucial issues of the Cold War period such as, for example, economic development. Whilst for other regions of the Third World historical accounts have embraced a global and nuanced approach, historiography on Latin America is still predominantly one-dimensional.

Analyzing Mexico’s relations with the Third and the Second World between 1958 and the 1964, this paper aims to contribute reintegrating post 1945 Latin America’s history into the broader debate on the Global Cold War. This paper will show that Mexico was able, like other Third World countries, to use bipolar competition in support of the country’s main political objective after the triumph of the 1911 Revolution: state-led economic development. This paper will argue that the Cold War in Mexico coalesced with a historical process that had deeper roots: that of socio-economic transformation of the country which began in the late 1920s. Second, this paper will show that Mexico’s leaders had a complex and global perception of the challenges the country’s development project faced. Particularly, this paper will look at the role which Mexico played within the Non-Aligned Movement and at the country’s relations with the USSR during 1960s as part of its attempt to modify those international economic structures that allegedly hampered the economic “modernization” of the country. This will allow us to appreciate that while Mexico’s relation with the United States was certainly important, Mexico’s Cold War was also more than that.

Hopefully, the study of the Mexican case can help scholars break what Tanya Harmer has defined as the “historiographical Monroe Doctrine” which, for decades, has cut-off Latin American history from the broader Third World’s historical narratives. Reconnecting Latin America to the global Cold War can also help us to achieve a more complete picture of the relations between the Cold War and the process of socio-economic changes in the so called peripheries after 1945.


Dr. Vanni Pettinà is Associate Professor of Latin American International History at the Center for Hisvanni-pettina-e1462115150806-200x199torical Studies of El Colegio de México, in México City. In 2012, he was a Kluge Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Library of Congress and, in 2013, an AECID Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Historical Studies of El Colegio de México. He is author of  Cuba y Estados Unidos, 1933-1959. Del Compromiso Nacionalista al Conflicto, several articles in scholarly journals such as International History Review, Journal of Latin American Studies, Cold War History, Historia Mexicana, Revista de Indias, Culture and History and book chapters in different edited volumes published in Spain, Latin America and the US. At the moment, his research is focused on the international history of Mexico’s developmental project between 1947 and the late 1970s and he is writing a Historia Minima of the Cold War in Latin America.