Thursday, 5 April 2012

Violence and its Aftermath in Soviet & Post-Soviet Context

Fourth International Social Science Summer School in Ukraine
“Violence and its Aftermath in the Soviet and Post-Soviet Context”
Zhytomyr (Ukraine), 4-10 July 2012

Program description: 
 “How naïve, how kindly and patriarchal the old prisons huddled on the
outskirts of towns now appeared – beside these camp-cities, beside the awful
crimson-black glow that hung over the gas ovens! You might well think that
the management of such a vast number of prisoners would have required an
equally vast army of guards and supervisors. In fact, whole weeks would pass
by without anyone in an SS uniform so much as appearing inside the
barrack-huts. It was the prisoners themselves who policed the camp-cities
(…) It seemed as though the German authorities could disappear altogether,
the prisoners would maintain the high-voltage current in the wires and go on
with their work.”

This is the way Vasily Grossman, a Soviet writer born in a Jewish family in
central Ukraine, defines in his major novel Life and Fate the level and
sophistication of violence reached in the XXth century. The novel dedicated
to the Second World War is a reflection on the management of violence in war
conditions and its ambiguity, but also on the violence experienced by
political prisoners in Stalinist camps and on the pervasiveness of violence
in all spheres of life.  Having lost his mother in the Berdichev ghetto
during the war, the writer dedicated his novel to her and her shadow is
present in the author’s whole work of writing and memory.

Following Grossman’s path, not only symbolically but also physically by
installing the school near his native city, the Summer School will address
the complexity and the aftermaths of violence, not only in war times, but
also in times of peace, in the Soviet and post-Soviet context.

The Fourth International Social Science Summer School in Ukraine will
provide a unique forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest
research on violence issues, involving specialists of the topic, as well as
young promising researchers.

The School is interdisciplinary. The organizers welcome proposals from the
disciplines of history, sociology, anthropology, political science,
economics, and adjacent fields. While the primary focus will be on the
socialist and post-socialist era (in the former Soviet Union, Central,
Eastern and Southern Europe), pre-Soviet history may also be examined. The
discussions and presentations will analyze different dimensions of violence:
war and non-war situations; state management of violence, as well as
individual and collective strategies; mechanisms of violence outbreak;
violent practices and post-violence situations; perpetrators and victims;
sources and methods.

Some of the issues of particular interest to the School include:

•               State monopoly of violence, implementation and resistance
(past and present)
o   Soviet repressive practices
o   Police: use of force and violent practices
o   Justice, prison, coercion
o   Terrorism and anti-terrorism
o   State management of public protest
o   Violence of/towards economic actors (mafia, raids)
•               War and post-war, conflict situations
o   Mobilization and control of violence in combat
o   Civil population during war and post-conflict
o   Ethnic conflicts, border conflicts, other forms of mass violence
o   Return to civilian life
•               Violent practices and violent behaviour
o   State and non-state violence towards property or objects
o   Social, domestic and everyday violence
o   Gendered dimension of violence
o   Violence and non-violence as a strategy for political, social and
economical actors
o   Public protest practices: strikes, demonstrations 
o   Education and socialization to violence
•               Memory and representation of violence
o   Collective memory of violence
o   Representation of violence in media and art
o   Life course and trauma
o   Veterans and veterans’ movements

The Summer School is designed to be interdisciplinary and international.
Participants are expected to present their own work and to participate in
group discussions. The School’s program consists of lectures, panel
presentations and discussions, as well field trips within the region,
followed by discussion sessions.

Zhytomyr (Central Ukraine, 130 km from Kyiv) is nowadays a middle-sized city
of 278,000 inhabitants in a mostly rural area. The official founding date is
884, though this fact and has only a legendary basis. The first records of
the town date from 1240 and are linked to Zhytomyr being sacked by the
Mongols of Batu Khan. Successively Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Soviet and
Ukrainian, the town has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
From the times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, many Poles and Jews
lived here. The Jewish roots of Vladimir Lenin are related to Zhytomyr. His
grandfather, Mr Blank, belonged to the local town dwellers. In Zhytomyr for
a long time lived Khaim Byalik – one of the founders of the modern Hebrew
language. The Zhytomyr region is also related to the biography and writings
by authors such as Honoré de Balzac, Lesya Ukrainka, and Józef Kraszewski.
The famous musicians Svyatoslav Richter and Juliusz Zarembski are also
Zhytomyr natives. 
During the Soviet years – and still nowadays - the city was more willing to
be proud of another of his children, the designer of the first Soviet space
rockets Sergey Korolev; two local museums commemorate its life and the
Soviet conquest of the space.
During the 20th century Zhytomyr has gradually lost its multicultural
nature. The predominant Jewish community was largely annihilated in the
Holocaust; the Soviet migration policy has brought there a more mixed
population. Today, Zhytomyr is a rather typical post-Soviet city, combining
in its landscape architectural traces of the old times, past conflicts
injuries, Soviet urbanization marks and post-Soviet commercial development. 

One week, Wednesday 4 – Tuesday 10 July 2012. 

The Summer School is open to PhD students (or students enrolled in a
kandidat nauk program) and young researchers (up to six years removed from
their PhD or kandidat nauk degree). Empirically grounded proposals are
particularly welcomed.

The working language of the Summer School will be English, and it is
important that prospective participants have a good knowledge of this

The selection committee will select candidates based on their responses to
this Call for Proposals. The selected candidates will be advised before the
end of May.

Program Costs
There is no program fee. Local transportation from/to Kyiv, accommodation,
meals, classes, lectures, seminars and excursions are provided by the
organizers and free of charge. The participants or their universities should
only pay the travel expenses from the participant's country to Kyiv. 

How to apply?
To be considered for the Summer School, candidates must complete an
application form (that includes a 500 word project proposal) and add a CV.
They can also send an additional written sample, such as a conference paper,
a dissertation chapter, or a publication (optional). The application must be
sent by e-mail to, by 15 April 2012.

The application form can be requested at or
downloaded on the following address:

For more information, please contact us at 

Embassy of France in Ukraine
Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa (Canada) 
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales [EHESS] (France)
Internet network “”
Research project “Understanding Violence in
Doctoral School of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Ukraine) 
French-Russian Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences in Moscow (Russia)
Zhytomyr State University (Ukraine)

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