Decolonizing (the knowledge about) Eastern Europe?

November 27, 2023
17:00 - 19:30 CEST/CET

Location: EHU Vilnius 

Dealing with Eastern Europe often still means dealing with the post-communist, post-Soviet “Eastern Europe”, within the imagined boundaries from the Cold War period. Smaller countries like the Baltic States or Belarus are particularly often discussed only in the context of Russia: On one hand, such an approach suggests a “Russian” Eastern Europe, on the other hand, it overlooks the individual characteristics and specific problems of these smaller countries.  

The mental map of “Eastern Europe” as the formerly Russian-Soviet-occupied part of Europe also affects the organization of academic research (allocation of scholarships, development of research programs, selection of conference topics, etc.). 

In cooperation with EHU Vilnius, IDM Vienna aims to explore the extent to which “colonial” structures and mindsets still shape Eastern European Studies, especially in Western European academia. While the post-colonial approach has gained ground for other regions of the world that were formerly colonies of Western European powers, Eastern European Studies remain focused on Russia, other countries of the region seem to be interesting only in this context.  

In the panel discussion, we want to discuss the possibilities of decolonizing Eastern Europe. Additionally, we aim to present and discuss relevant experiences from academia and/or NGOs in this regard. The panel discussion aims to explore the possibility of decolonized Eastern European Studies, which should provide more space for other countries. Decolonizing Eastern European studies would consider developments after the collapse of the Soviet Union applying post-colonial approaches to the region. 

The focus of the event is on Belarus: Through the example of Belarus, we can illustrate and understand how the Western European (academic) public perceives (and forgets) Eastern Europe. In the context of the Ukraine conflict, the interest in Belarus in the Western European public has sharply decreased, as if the problems that had led to protests in 2020 had been resolved 




Moderation: Péter Techet (IDM Vienna) 


Andei Kazakevich (Institute of Political Research “Palitychnaya Sphere”) 

Amira Ousmanova (EHU Vilnius) 

Iryna Ramanava (EHU Vilnius, University of Giessen) 

Tatiana Shchyttsova (EHU Vilnius) 

Andrei Vazyanau (EHU Vilnius / Minsk Urban Plattform) 

Vasily Zharkov (EHU Vilnius)