"Focus Belarus" research team plans a major conference on Belarus


On 21 September IRES brought together a dozen of international scholars to plan a major conference on Belarus.

As IRES goes through the transformation from a Centre to an Institute, there is an opportunity to launch new initiatives that can help frame a new research agenda for the short to medium term. One of the areas identified as a gap that IRES could seek to fill is the current lack of a research node devoted to Belarus in Sweden. As such, plans are in the works for creating such a node, under the provisional title “Focus Belarus”, at IRES in the coming years.

As part of this process, we plan to organise a major conference on Belarus in 2018, in a similar vein to the conference on Ukraine hosted in Uppsala in 2017. In order to ensure that any application for funding for this conference would be as strong as possible, IRES mobilised its network of researchers, alumni, and colleagues hold a brainstorming session.

The workshop was held at IRES on 21 September 2017, bringing together over a dozen scholars from Sweden, Finland, Germany, Canada, and Belarus, both established professors and early career scholars from a variety of disciplines. Among those who took part were Prof. David Marples (University of Alberta), Prof. Viktor Shadursky (Belarusian State University), Dr Imke Hansen (Nordost-Institut), and Dr Ekatherina Zhukova (Lund University).

The discussions took place in a friendly and dynamic atmosphere, where key issues of the current state of affairs in Belarusian studies were discussed frankly, and not without a dose of good-natured self-criticism. As a result of the day-long-workshop, the “Focus Belarus” team at IRES now has invaluable material that can help them to formulate an application for a conference that will be both cutting-edge and forward-looking. We also are grateful to know that we have already consolidated pool of expertise and goodwill that will help make this investment in research on Belarus at IRES a success.