Anna-Liisa Heusala, university lecturer in Russian and Eurasian Studies, is the academic supervisor and Eugenia Pesci is the doctoral researcher in the Horizon 2020 ITN MARKETS Doctoral Training Network at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki.
Finally, after two years of Zoom meetings, our Markets and New Markets people could meet each other in person! The joint meeting of these two ongoing Horizon 2020 projects took place in the warmth of Istanbul´s weather in 14-21 June, in the Marmara University Campus, located on the Asian side of the city.
The week long program had been put together by the doctoral researchers of the Markets project, and it included a variety of topics which are important in the development of research (and other expert) careers; such as methodological issues, publishing strategies, branding, and gender issues. The practical training offered to the doctoral researchers included Professor Alena Ledeneva´s Informality Game, which is a great way to learn about concrete challenges that outsiders (investors, managers, experts) may encounter while working in administrative cultures where informality is prevalent. At the end of the intensive week, we had an opportunity to listen to a panel of experts coming from Turkiye, Ireland, Georgia and Czech Republic to discuss the effects of the war in Ukraine on Eurasian economic development.
The doctoral researchers´ supervisors were asked to provide five minute pitches about their ongoing work. While preparing for this pitch at home (and it did require some preparation!), I realized how fitting the two Horizon 2020 funded projects (RISE and ITN) are for me personally, as I now have a venue to transfer the experience that I have gained over the past 30 years in Russian studies to the exploration of processes and flows in the Eurasian space. Although both projects have suffered from the Covid pandemic and are now affected by the war, their topic could not be more acutely important. The essential question of why altering laws and structures is not enough to shift an administrative culture remains at the center. I am hopeful that our new direction of expanding the Aleksanteri Institute´s research focus geographically while focusing on global processes and flows transcending national borders will bear fruit in the works of Eugenia Pesci and Mirzokhid Karshiev, and others.
Text and photos by Anna-Liisa Heusala