More than 40 researchers, interested in media and communication studies, gathered on Thursday evening at Aleksanteri Institute’s meeting room despite dense conference program. There were not enough sitting places for everyone, so some people even stayed in the corridor.

The meeting started with short presentation by Olga Dovbysh, coordinator of Russian Media Lab Network. Dovbysh, now postdoctoral researcher at Aleksanteri Institute, talked how the idea of the Network for scholars, studying media and communication in Eurasian space, emerged. Research project “Russian Media Lab”, which was implemented at Aleksanteri Institute in 2016-2018, formed a basis for the Network initiative. Simultaneously, the research project helped to point out important challenges in scholarly discussion. In particular, Dovbysh mentioned the following gaps that should be addresses in the future research of media in Eurasian space:

  • Dominance of research, studying media from political perspective, in comparison to industrial, market and other perspectives;
  • Regional disbalance: there is a significant number of research focusing on Russia, while much less is known about the other countries in the region, for instance, Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, etc.;
  • Lack of local perspective: the dominance of research studying national rather than local media;
  • Importance of materiality of media and infrastructure studies. Scholarly discussion now focuses more on symbolic meaning of media products, while materiality of media is less studied;
  • Significance of gender and feminist perspectives in studies of media and communication in the Eurasian space.

Of course, the list is not exhausted and many other “blind spots” can be added.

Next, prof. Markku Kangaspuro, director of Aleksanteri Institute had a short welcome speech. He talked about collaboration opportunities with and within Institute, as well as the visiting fellows programme.

The idea of the RML Network is to help researchers, studying various aspects of media and communication in Eurasian space, keep in touch through research collaboration, dissemination and sharing of research results, offline and online events. Thus, the Network will contribute to the development of scholarly discussion on media development in the Eurasian space. Moreover, having its core in Helsinki, the Network will support connections between western and Russian-based scholars.

The Network initiative is at the very beginning of its development now. The future plans are to organize joint thematic panels at international conferences and annual seminars in Helsinki, share research results, open-calls and other information via Network’s blog and FB group, and provide peer-to-peer support. The Network will form and develop through participation of its members. In the nearest future we’ll conduct a survey to understand members’ expectations in order to maximize the value of being networked.

The second part of the meeting was held in informal communication.

If you are interested in the Network initiative or have comments and ideas, contact olga.dovbysh@helinki.fi

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