Category Archives: Podcast

Hogueras, satirical structures made of cardboard portraying current events and personalities, of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and US President  Barack Obama are displayed ahead of the annual San Juan (Saint John) celebrations in Alicante on June 23, 2014. Fires are lit throughout Spain for Saint John where the Hogueras and objects people no longer want are burnt as individuals make wishes as they jump through the flames. AFP PHOTO/ JOSE JORDAN

Podcast: Jonathan Harris, Why do American leaders (and pundits) have such confused conceptions of the USSR and Russian Federation?

jon_harrisAmerican leaders’ definition of the relationship between domestic and foreign policy foster primitive views of the foreign policies of both the USSR and Russian Federation. Their obsession with the “promotion of democracy” produces similar conclusions about the nature of the Russian political system under Putin.

Jonathan Harris is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. His areas of expertise are Comparative politics, USSR and Russian Federation, and international politics.


epa01716659 (FILE) A file photograph showing Russian troops marching in the village of Alabino outside Moscow on 22 April 2008 during the rehearsal of the military parade which will take place on the Red Square on 09 May 2008, devoted to the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in the WWII . A plan to replace Soviet-era Russian military uniforms with ones by a leading fashion designer has been abandoned because of a lack of money, media reports on 01 May 2009. The plan to bring in the new uniforms, designed by Valentin Yudashkin, was supported by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. There is now only enough money to pay for uniforms for soldiers taking part in the forthcoming Victory Day parade.  EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

Podcast: Russia’s Armed Forces Today

michael_kofman_hr_0After a period of military reform and modernization, Russia’s armed forces today are a far more capable instrument of national power then they have been since the collapse of the Soviet Union. How do we assess Russia’s military today? What kind of wars and adversaries does it prepare to fight? What can we learn from recent combat operations in Syria and Ukraine?

Mr. Michael Kofman is a Research Scientist at CNA Corporation and a Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C. His research focuses on security issues in Russia and the former Soviet Union, specializing in defense and military analysis. Previously he served at National Defense University as a Program Manager and subject matter expert, advising senior military and government officials on issues in Russia/Eurasia and Pakistan. He has represented the Department of Defense in track one and track two efforts, through military engagement programs and strategic exchanges with Russian officials, the Chinese and Pakistani military, along with trilateral dialogues. At NDU he oversaw military-to-military engagements, training programs, and interoperability exercises for senior officers from the US and other countries.


Podcast: Lea David, A War over Genocide: Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina Facing/Faking Their Past

leaOne of the core assumptions underpinning the EU’s operations is that the implementation of the human rights principles is crucial for democratization processes and for coming to terms with the past, in particular in post-conflict settings. However, despite these efforts, nationalism, which opposes the uniform standardization of global rights, still remains the most potent ideology across the globe, in particular in conflict and post-conflict settings. In this lecture I will analyze the uses of the genocide discourses in Serbia, Croatian and Bosnia-Herzegovina to provide a critical perspective on the impact that the human rights regime has on nationalist ideologies. I will question the usefulness of the human rights agenda which is based on the assumption that the standardization of memory, i.e. a proper way of remembrance, is effective in promoting universalist human rights values in conflict and post-conflict settings. In so doing, it will address the fundamental questions asking kind of national memories are being enforced via human rights infrastructures among post-conflict states and how are those memories re-figuring and transforming the potency of nationalism.

Lea David finished her PhD at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben Gurion University, Israel. Her work examines how a transition to democracy is changing a content of a collective memory in Serbia and is producing new social categories. She explores how a contested past is managed through the clashes of the local and the global memory cultures. She has been lecturing on the memory studies, conflict in the Former Yugoslav countries, Holocaust, genocide, and human rights at various Israeli Universities and Colleges. Her postdoctoral research at the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research, Haifa University deals with Memory Politics and Human Rights regime in International Relations. As the Fulbright- Rabin postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, in the coming year she is about to broaden her research to various forms of nationalism produced through memory politics and human rights in the Former Yugoslav states as well as in Israel and Palestine.


Podcast: “Skopje 2014” and the Intersection of Authenticity, Continuity, and Antiquity in the Republic of Macedonia

REES_8Antiquization refers to the policy whereby government-sponsored nationalist discourse utilizes modern narratives of ancient descent to claim a direct link between the distant past and the present. In constructing an image of a ‘Macedonian’ past upon which the modern nation-state is derived, the ongoing VMRO-DPNE ‘Skopje 2014’ project forgoes authenticity while emphasizing antiquity. It does so by selecting certain historic figures and events at the expense of others to be represented as monumental lieux de memoire. These correspond to one of four loosely defined categories: (1) the ancient 4th century BCE Macedonian kingdom of Phillip II and empire of Alexander the Great; (2) introduction and spread of Christianity from the 4th to 9th centuries ACE; (3) 19th century literary and intellectual ‘Macedonian’ renaissance; and (4) revolutionary and military accomplishments of the late 19th early 20th centuries. Under the guise of cultural heritage and shared history, ‘Skopje 2014’ endeavors to create the appearance of a unified past within a multiethnic state by imposing a linear historic narrative connected to a mythicized golden age that is European, Christian, and Slavic. These historical, architectural, and archaeological juxtapositions reflect ongoing tension in the Balkans between national identity, ethnonationalism, and the past.

Katherine (Katie) Pompeani is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on questions of social inequality, health, and subsistence practices through the analysis of Bronze Age human skeletal remains from northern Serbia. Katie has participated in archaeological research and excavations in the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, and New York State. Her interest in Eastern Europe began as an undergraduate at Gettysburg College, where she participated in archaeological excavations at the Late Antique city of Golemo Gradiste in the Republic of Macedonia.  At the University of Pittsburgh, Katie’s research has been supported by several fellowships, including the Andrew W. Mellon Predissertation Fellowship, Foreign Language Acquisition Scholarship (FLAS), Hungarian Nationality Room Travel Grant, and a Social Sciences Dissertation Development Fellowship (SSDD). As a 2014-2015 FLAS recipient, Katie pursued language studies in Bosnian-Croatian Serbian, and took courses on nationalism and memory politics. Her research into state-sponsored policies of antiquization and memory politics in the Republic of Macedonia draws on a broader understanding of contemporary Eastern European ethnonationalism in the context of the use of material culture by political elites, specifically monuments, to appropriate or distort cultural memory.


Podcast: The Russian Intervention in Syria

Professor_Mark_Katz_0003.237113236_stdWhile Russia’s recent increased involvement in the Syrian conflict may well serve to prevent the Assad regime from falling, the obstacles that Putin faces there will not enable him either to resolve the conflict or defeat ISIS and other Syrian opposition movements. Further, Putin’s efforts to rally some support in the West for Russian intervention on the basis of common hostility toward ISIS is suffering from widespread reports that Russian forces are focusing their attacks on non-ISIS opposition forces, and not ISIS itself.

Mark Katz was born and raised in Riverside, California.  He earned a B.A. in international relations from the University of California at Riverside in 1976, an M.A. in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in 1978, and a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982.

Before starting to teach at George Mason University in 1988, he was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution (1980-81), held a temporary appointment as a Soviet affairs analyst at the U.S. Department of State (1982), was a Rockefeller Foundation international relations fellow (1982-84), and was both a Kennan Institute/Wilson Center research scholar (1985) and research associate (1985-87). He has also received a U.S. Institute of Peace fellowship (1989-90) and grant (1994-95), and several Earhart Foundation fellowship research grants.

He has been a visiting scholar at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (Riyadh, May 2001), the Hokkaido University Slavic Research Center (Sapporo, June-July 2007), the Higher School of Economics (Moscow, March 2010), and the Middle East Policy Council (Washington, DC, September 2010-January 2011).

Podcast: Catherine Wanner, War, Grief and Rage: Popular Commemorations of the Maidan

image_normalWhen over one hundred people died during a night of violence on the Maidan, Kyiv’s central square, on February 20, 2014, memorial shrines commemorating the tragic deaths sprang up immediately. By creating sacred commemorative space, the surviving protesters created a means and a place for grieving. These popular memorials and the rites of mourning performed there not only commemorate death and sacrifice, they also focus outrage. As such, the memorials cultivate deeply felt moral sentiments of loss, mourning and grieving that feed the conviction that the protests were more than a political act. They constituted a “revolution of dignity.”

Catherine Wanner is a Professor of History and Cultural Anthropology at The Pennsylvania State University. She received her doctorate in cultural anthropology from Columbia University. She is the author of Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine (1998), Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism (2007), which won four best book prizes and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, and co-editor of Religion, Morality and Community in Post-Soviet Societies (2008), editor of State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine (2012) and editor of a forthcoming collection of essays on resistance and renewal during the Maidan protests. She is currently working a book entitled, The Winter that Changed Us: Religion, Faith and Belonging in Russia and Ukraine. Her research has been supported by awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council among others.

Podcast: Serhiy Kudelia, Revolutionary Cycles and the Secessionist Conflict in Ukraine

Serhiy Kudelia

The yearlong conflict in Donbas already claimed over five thousand lives and produced nearly two million refugees. The ceasefire agreements failed to hold, while the heavy fighting produced a humanitarian calamity in the region. This talk will discuss the effects of the revolutionary rupture on the breakdown of political order in Ukraine, the motives behind the counter-revolutionary insurrection in Donbas, the narratives and resources of insurgents, the limits of Ukraine’s counterinsurgency strategy and the alternative paths to a sustainable peace.

Podcast: Taras Kuzio, Euromaidan, Crimea and War with Russia

Timofiy Mylovanov Talks Ukraine on Essential Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh economics professor Timofiy Mylovanov was interviewed on Essential Pittsburgh on the state of Ukraine. Here’s a description of the interview from WESA‘s website:

Mylovanov acknowledges that the political and judicial corruption for which Ukraine has been notorious remains an issue for the country, but he says the corruption may be a symptom rather than a cause. He says that the Ukrainian economy and political system definitely suffer from a lack of transparency, but because that lack of transparency ends up benefiting parties with vested interests, it’s difficult to overcome.

Mylovanov explains that he is part of an informal group of economists, scholars and critics that publishes articles covering Ukrainian political issues at Occasionally the work published at Vox Ukraine has been influential to Ukrainian policymakers, who have adopted some of the scholars’ recommendations.

You can hear the interview below:

Lecture: Andrew Behrendt, Colorblind Cats and Local Nationalists: Tourism and Two Kinds of Homeland in Austria and Hungary, 1930-1938

Hungarian tourism promoters in the 1930s gnashed their teeth in frustration at a sluggish domestic travel market. In their minds, Hungarians were disloyal and ungrateful tourists, ignorant of their country and therefore unwilling to spend their vacations “at home” rather than abroad. The solution, these promoters decided, was to appeal to Hungarians’ sense of patriotism and guilt them into traveling. But in neighboring Austria, another post-imperial country with its own struggles to stimulate tourism, such arguments were nowhere to be found. Austrians, it seems, did not need to be goaded into “seeing Austria first.” What explains this disparity? In part, it has to do with two different visions of “homeland,” one which defined the nation as an expression of local identity (and vice versa), and another that saw the state belonging to a single, fixed nation awaiting “discovery.” This talk, adapted from a chapter of Mr. Behrendt’s dissertation-in-progress, proposes that a comparison of these cases helps us to a better understanding of how societies adapting to the end of empire have (re-)imagined the idea of “home” as the national and regional boundaries changed around them.