Venäjän tiedeakatemia   

Yllättävän vähän on tiedeyhteisö Suomessa pitänyt melua Venäjän tiedeakatemian meneillään olevasta “reformista”, eli nykytietojen mukaan  sen lakkauttamisesta. Se on ollut itsenäinen tutkimuksen ylin instituutio Venäjällä jo 300 vuotta, Pietari Suuren ajoista. Jopa Neuvostoliiton aikana sillä oli suhteellisen laaja oikeus itsenäiseen tieteelliseen tutkimukseen, mikä takasi muun muassa lukuisia Nobel-palkintoja venäläisille tutkijoille. 2000 luvullakin niitä on tullut neljä.

Kesäkuussa Venäjän duuma yhteisymmärryksessä Venäjä ylimmän johdon kanssa laati lain Tiedeakatemian reformista. Hiljaisen kesän jälkeen tiedekeskukset Venäjällä ovat heränneet hämmennyksen ja epätiedon syksyyn. Tiedeakatemian nykyinen toiminta jatkuu vain tammikuulle 2014 saakka. Sen alaisten lukuisten Tiedekeskusten palkkaamien 100 000 tutkijan tulevaisuus on epävarma. Valtavan akateemisen elimen alasajo vain puolen vuoden kuluessa on suuri isku vapaalle tutkimukselle myös kansainvälisen tiedeyhteisön näkökulmasta. Esimerkiksi Karjalan tiedekeskuksen Kielen, kirjallisuuden ja historian instituutti on vaikuttanut Karjalan alueen kansanperinteen keruuseen, julkaisemiseen ja tutkimukseen jo 1930-luvulta asti. Karjalan kielen kehittyminen kirjakieleksi on tapahtunut vahvasti Instituutin tutkijoiden myötävaikutuksella.

Yliopistojen ohella Venäjän tiedeakatemia on merkittävä tutkimuksen paikka. Toivoisin yliopiston ja tiedekeskuksen tutkijoiden yhteistyötä jatkossa, sillä tämä tutkimusperinne tarvitsee jatkajansa ja tiedeyhteisöjen riippumattomuus toimijansa.


Coffee Break Conversations with Petri Kahila:

“Stockholmer in Joensuu – Is not an Englisman in New York” 

By Tiina Soininen


Coffee Break Conversations with Jussi Laine:

“Cross-border cooperation is motivated by personal interests. - Who would do this, if not us?”

By Tiina Soininen

In your dissertation you studied the cross-border cooperation in Finnish Russian case. Your main argument is that civic neighborhood cross-border cooperation is a bottom-up alternative to the official policy of European neighborhood. What do you mean by this?

”With the term ‘civic’ I don’t refer only to associations but also, and maybe even more importantly, to all kind of civic activities that individuals take in relation to the border and Russia. In the Finnish context this action most often is turned into organized civic action because we tend to found third sector organizations for every event. It is the traditional way in Finland. But anyhow, the cooperation on civic level was established even before Finland joined the European Union.” Laine explains the cross-border co-operation. He walks through his thought and continues to explaining the EU framework for cross-border cooperation. “Then EU, it has very forcefully, and also elegantly, promoted its actions in the border region, but these argument cumulate from the geopolitical targets that seem quite distant to everyday problems of the people who live in border area. The empty phrases of EU don’t link up to individual needs.” Then Laine carries on to final conclusion. “So, the cross-border action in practice is based on local needs. It is people to people action. This creates a situation that is in line with EU politics, but motivated by personal interests. It is very pragmatic and rather distant from the power politics.”

But it might be argued that these individuals are just a part of power politics because EU funds these cooperative actions. If there hadn’t been EU funding available, would the neighborhood cooperation be differently constructed?

“Actually, I don’t think it would have made much difference. Many civil society organizations in this area have had only little funding from the EU. Many have taken part in EU funded contact forums etc., but a trip to St. Petersburg to see a theater play or a ballet can hardly be called cross-border cooperation.” Laine defends his argument and motions further. “For people this cooperation is a question of real neighborhood. It is not a project! Neighborhood is constant, indifferent to power politics. It needs to be maintained and nurtured. It is created by people living next to each other and these people are tied together. They feel companionship.”

What do you mean with companionship?

“In the interviews, that I made, I approached the question of individual motivation from many different angles. There weren’t one all encompassing motive for cross-border cooperation. But what stood out between the lines was that cooperation across the border, especially with Karelia, was seen as ‘our duty’ or the respondents would refer to the idea of neighborhood in terms of proximity. Often informants also challenged me and asked back: “Who would do this, if not us?”

Is it about charity, then?

“Well, maybe in the beginning it was about charity, but it has changed into more balanced co-operation where information, knowledge and other resources are exchanged both ways. On both sides of the border the individuals gain some new resources from the co-operation. Each actor has their own targets and receive something that they aspire for. It enriches peoples’ lives in many ways. They might start to understand different cultures, they meet new people, they even meet their future spouses, etc.” Laine smiles and sips the last of his coffee. “This then, of course, corresponds to many social theoretical ideas, for example familiarity. People get socially closer. Furthermore, it is then in line with power politics which stresses for importance to diminish contradictions between people.”

Jussi Laine is a researcher in the University of Eastern Finland, Karelian Institute. He defends his doctoral thesis entitled New Civic Neighborhood. Cross-border Cooperation and Civil Society Engagement at the Finnish-Russian Border  in 26.6., at 12 o’clock, AU100, Aurora, Joensuu campus. Opponent is professor Vladimir Kolossov (Russian Academy of Sciences) and custodian is professor Heikki Eskelinen, University of Eastern Finland.

Coffee break conversations’ is a series introduces research done in the Karelian Institute.


Coffee break conversations with Tiina Sotkasiira:

“Talking back is a way of adding human connection  and societal inclusiveness.”

By Tiina Soininen

Your main claim is that young people from North Caucasus, who face a minority position in Russia, are ’talking back’. What do you mean by this?

”In Russia, nationality politics and everyday discourses on ethnicity define certain positions for the young people coming from North-Caucasus. The young people agree with some of these positions but at the same time they strongly disagree with some of them. The ’talking back’ is about presenting alternative interpretations and constructions of these positions. Talking back is about how these individuals attempt to gain a dialogic relationship with the structures that national political framing and general discourse presents,” says Sotkasiira. She gives an example of religious pondering of the youth. ”For example, it is typical to draw parallels between Caucasians and terrorism – The young people are talking against this practise. They view their religion in a different light. For them, religion can be ’pure’ or ‘impure’. With the ’pure’ religious idea they refer to their internalized sense of God, while they talk about ‘impure’ Islam to  distance themselves from the ways in which religion can be used to argue for one’s own political or power objectives. Young people vision many alternative ways to understand Islam.”

Can the ‘talking back’ be universally generalized to young people in Russia or elsewhere in the world?

“The ‘talking back’ is a concept that has been used in research of several different minority groups, like women, immigrants in other parts of the world etc. It is a strategy for constructing of self in a situation where structures and discourses put pressures on individual’s life construction.”

Can the latest riots in Stockholm be interpreted as one way of ‘talking back’?

“There is not one all-inclusive explanation why young people take part in riots. Immigrants or minorities are not the only social groups that riot. For example, in Oulu in 1990 we had a similar incident in which local youngsters clashed with the police and this had nothing to do with immigration. In relation to Stockholm, some participants may be “talking back” but this happens in multiple levels. Economical, social and political situations of the young there and, also, the question of ethnic discrimination may all be a part of individual experiences which then cumulate and turn into rioting. This said, individuals often have different reasons for taking part in riots and these structural features affect individuals in various ways and with specific weights and also cause different reactions,” Sotkasiira concludes.

Do you see this ‘talking back’ concept as a positive social force in the current societies?

“When it is manifested in its extreme, it is not a positive force. Rather, many people may get hurt when violence occurs. But the life is not only black and white! You know.” Sotkasiira says and emphasizes this with a smile. “The ‘talking back’ is a way to point out the flaws in our society and each of us should be ready to listen to these experiences, when possibilities arise. It is a way for young people to search for interaction and engage in conversations with the surrounding society –it is a way of adding human connection and societal inclusiveness in everyday encounters.”

Tiina Sotkasiira is a researcher in the University of Eastern Finland, Karelian Institute. She defended her doctoral thesis entitled Caucasian Encounters. North Caucacian youth and the politics of identification in contemporary Russia 7.6.2013.

‘Coffee break conversations’ is a new series of introducing research done in the Karelian Institute.


Freedom of Speech and Civil Rights in Kazakhstan

Three guests from Kazakhstan and Russia visited the Karelian Institute on Monday 11th of March. They gave a talk at the VERA research seminar on ‘Freedom of Speech and Civil Rights in Kazakhstan’. Julia Mazurova who is a documentarist from Moscow presented her documentary ”Zhanaozen The Unknown Tragedy” about the strike of oil workers in Western Kazakhstan (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0sOb1bkSdhkS214SkYteHB1U3M/edit). A Kazakhstani journalist Igor Vinjavskij introduced the Kazakhstani background to Julia’s documentary and briefly discussed his own arrest in January 2012. He was accused of posing a challenge to the constitutional order of Kazakhstan. The seminar and the theme of civil rights in Kazakhstan were documented by Yle’s Jyrki Saarikoski for the programme A-studio: http://areena.yle.fi/tv/1824608

Tanja Lipiäinen