MARKETS Consortium meeting in Helsinki

The H2020-ITN-Markets fellows and supervisors held a two day workshop in the University of Helsinki just before the Annual Aleksanteri Conference, 23.-24.10.

The event was created jointly by the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki and Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, and organized by Eugenia Pesci, Giulio Benedetti and Aleksanteri Institute intern Irene Milani.  They had worked tirelessly to put together a program which started on Sunday with a visit to the Design Museum, giving our visitors  a chance to learn about the evolution of Finnish lifestyle in one hour.  Followed by an opportunity to enjoy Finnish Sauna and take a dip in the ocean, the arrival day ended with a cozy dinner in the center of Helsinki.

Design Museum in Helsinki. Photo by A-L Heusala

The workshop included a versatile two-day program addressing  topical issues such as the evolution of Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European studies and Aleksanteri Institute´s role in Finland by director Markku Kangaspuro, and a critical outlook on the politics of bad governance in contemporary Russia by professor Vladimir Gelman, also a supervisor in the MARKETS consortium.

Vladimir Gelman. Photo by A-L Heusala

Finland´s Ambassador to Central Asia, Ilkka Räisänen gave a lively talk about Finnish and EU cooperation in Central Asia, allowing us to have a view to the world of diplomacy and practical policy implementation. Ilkka Räisänen´s talk, based on his extensive experience in the region,  inspired a good number of questions that widened our understanding of critical challenges in Central Asia, as well as in transnational collaboration itself. 

Ambassador Ilkka Räisänen. Photo by A-L Heusala

The second part of the program included researcher training sessions.  Aleksanteri Institute´s Anna Tarasenko discussed policy studies and analysis, and the challenges of producing scientific or evidence-based knowledge for policy-makers. Her lecture was followed by Finnish Institute for International Affairs´ Kristiina Silvan and Margarita Zavadskaya who held a practice-oriented afternoon workshop on career planning, including a case study of think tank employment.

Margarita Zavadskaya with organizers Eugenia Pesci and Giulio Benedetti. Photo by A-L Heusala

As is customary in the MARKETS meetings, the fellows also gave short presentations of their doctoral projects.  Fieldwork and material collection are now completed, and manuscripts are on the way.  It is possible  to see how the variety of research topics within the MARKETS doctoral training network will create a unique foundation for future studies in our field after the consortium has ended its joint work.  Although Russia’s war in Ukraine has impacted the possibility to collect data for some of our fellows, they all found creative ways to adapt to the circumstances and carry out valuable research even in such times of crisis.

Faculty of Arts, Metsätalo building and lecture hall 4 where we had our meeting. Photo by A-L Heusala

The Faculty of Arts´ building “Metsätalo” where the meeting was held, is situated right in heart of Helsinki, within a few minutes walking distance from museums, main tourist sights and shopping streets. The fellows and supervisors had an opportunity to take advantage of the compact city center in their free time. We also enjoyed dinners in the hotel Arthur and in the restaurant Kolme Kruunua where we had more traditional Finnish cuisine.

Markku Kangaspuro and Abel Polese. Photo by A-L Heusala

The two day workshop was followed by the Annual Aleksanteri Conference 2023 “Decolonizing Space in the Global East” where several panels where organized or attended by our MARKETS people.  In the panel “The political economy of informality, public opinion and political changes: evidence from Central Asia“, Michael Rochlitz, Abel Polese and Madiana Gazieva gave presentations, with Yulia Brin as the chair and Anna-Liisa Heusala as the discussant.  Anni Kangas, from the University of Tampere acted as the chair and discussant in the panel “What´s in a Job? Rethinking Labour, Work, Employment and Migration in Central Asia“,  where Eugenia Pesci, Binazir Yusupova and Giulio Benedetti discussed their doctoral projects.  Our consortium coordinator, Abel Polese held a book event where he discussed the Scopus diaries and the illogics of academic survival.  In addition, Anna-Liisa Heusala participated in the book discussion on the Foundations of Russian Law (Hart, 2023), hosted by Jeffrey Kahn from the SMU Dedman School of Law. 

Overall, we were happy to host this MARKETS event in the University of Helsinki together with our partners from Riga,  and meet all the promising early career researchers again. 

Resting after an intense day. Photo by A-L Heusala

By Anna-Liisa Heusala