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COMPASS Research WiPS Archive

COMPASS Work in Progress Seminars 2019 – 2020

Due to the Coronavirus the WiPS seminars have been rescheduled

Revised seminar schedule

3 July 2020 – Bringing actorness and international order: Toward a theory of order-making actors (OMA) – Huawei Zheng

On 3 July Huawei Zheng (Kent) presented the theoretical framework of his PhD research, with a paper titled ‘Bringing actorness and international order: Toward a theory of order-making actors (OMA)’. Huawei set out the premises of the research, and introduced his framework on order-making actors as a contribution to the scholarly debate on actorness and international order. In the discussion, Huawei further explained aspects of eurocentrism, regional integration, and the research design for his study. The online presentation was attended by colleagues from the School of Politics and IR and BSU.

5 June 2020 – The BRI in Azerbaijan and implications for authoritarian regime legitimacy – Eske van Gils

Another online WiPS session took place on 5th June, when Eske van Gils (Kent) presented some early thoughts on a research on the BRI projects in Azerbaijan, and the implications they may have for authoritarian regime legitimacy. Eske provided some context regarding the economic and political background in Azerbaijan; the different infrastructure projects to be developed as part of the country’s ambition to become a regional transport hub; and the political implications these projects might have. The online seminar was attended by members of the COMPASS teams from Kent and Cambridge, the School of Politics and IR, and other project affiliates from Kent.

22 May 2020 – Overcoming Geostrategic Asymmetries: Foreign policy hedging in small in-between states (the case of Belarus)’ – Yauheni Preiherman

On 22nd May the Work in Progress Seminar welcomed Yauheni Preiherman (University of Warwick, Minsk Dialogue Track II, and COMPASS BSU team). Yauheni presented his findings on the case study of Belarus, which forms part of his PhD research. The presentation addressed the debate on bandwagoning versus strategic hedging theory in IR, and unpacked how this applies to the foreign policy behaviour of Belarus. The online seminar was attended by members of the COMPASS Kent team, the School of Politics and IR, and project members and affiliates from BSU, TNU, and ADA.

15 May 2020 – ‘Local ownership in the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy’- Irina Petrova

On 15th May another online Work in Progress Seminar took place, where Dr Irina Petrova (Kent) discussed her work on the notion of local ownership in the EU’s policy towards the Eastern Partnership. In her presentation, Irina argued that the compartmentalisation of literature on local ownership is problematic, and that more links between critical approaches are needed to gain a better understanding of the concept, using an outside-in perspective. Irina set out the different criteria for understanding ‘the local’, the role of civil society, and how these concepts have been implemented by the EU in the Eastern Partnership.

13 March 2020 – ‘Visions of the “Good Life” as motivation for institutional change’ – Trine Flockhart

On 13th March there was another (virtual) WiPS presentation, by Prof Trine Flockhart (University of Southern Denmark). Prof Flockhart presented her work in progress on international institutions and transformational change, reflecting on the work of Ernst Haas and applying this critique to the context of the challenges faced by the Liberal World Order today. Prof Flockhart argued that the concept of the “good life” could be seen as the ‘missing link’ in understanding changes in world orders. The presentation provided an in-depth introduction into the conceptual framework, and in the Q&A session the audience engaged in a discussion about the more empirical implications of the argument. The presentation was attended by colleagues from the COMPASS project, the School of Politics and IR, as well as exchange students from the Belarusian State University

28 February 2020 – ‘Problematising the Global/Local Dichotomy: Women’s activism in Central Asia​’ – Polina Bishenden

Polina Bishenden (Kent) gave her second WiPS presentation on 28th February, titled ‘Problematising the global/local dichotomy: Women’s activism in Central Asia’. The presentation was a conceptual reflection on the work she has thus far conducted for her PhD and built on her previous fieldwork in Central Asia as well as discussions held at the COMPASS Training School in Cambridge (9-19 February 2020). In the presentation, Polina critically examined concepts such as norm localisation, translocalism, and the idea of the ‘good life’; while also assessing her own positioning as a researcher and problematising the dichotomous notion of a global and a local level.

7th February 2020 – ‘Shadow’ of Ibn Arabi on global climate change through Bukharan history and its community: Reflections on the margins of the workshop programme in Bukhara – Nargis Nurulla-Khodzhaeva

On 7th February Dr Nargis Nurulla-Khodzhaeva (TNU) came to Canterbury to present her paper in which she reflected on several important concepts from Central Asian philosophy and history, to explain the significance of Bukhara and to understand how we can approach challenges of sustainability in the region nowadays. Nargis’ paper, titled ‘«Shadow» of Ibn Arabi on global climate change through Bukharan history and its community: Reflections on the margins of the workshop programme in Bukhara’, started by discussing the writings of Ibn Arabi, moving through time all the way to the new EU strategy on Central Asia of 2019. Concepts that were covered were, among others, those of ‘inbetweenness’, ‘barzak’, ‘national construction’, and ‘connectedness’. The presentation was followed by a discussion and question session.

6 December 2019 – Correlation of domestic and external factors to social movements in weak states – Akmaljon Abdullayev

Akmaljon Abdullayev (UWED) presented his research at the work in progress seminar on 6th December. His research paper, titled ‘Correlation of domestic and external factors to social movements in weak states’, poses the hypothesis that domestic factors prevail in understanding the link between social movements and democratisation. With his presentation Akmaljon made a strong case for interdisciplinarity and more nuanced approaches to study social movements in Central Asia. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session in which we discussed, among others, issues of methodology, democracy promotion, and collective action theory.

18 November 2019 – Nexus of Regulation and Economic Growth in Transition Economies: An Empirical Assessment using Central Asian Economies – Adham Khudaykulov

On 18th November Adham Khudaykulov (Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge) presented his work at the COMPASS work in progress seminar in Canterbury. The paper ‘Nexus of regulation and economic growth in transition economies: an empirical assessment using Central Asian economies’, presents some of the findings of Adham’s PhD research. Adham reflected on issues of methodology, data collection, and conceptualisation; and presented the main findings for five country case studies. The presentation was attended by staff and PhD students from the Kent COMPASS team, and we were also honoured to host Aziz Mullaev, a visiting scholar at Cambridge.

25 October 2019 – Through Thick and Thin: Russia, China, and the Future of Eurasian International Society – Zachary Paikin

On 25th October Zachary Paikin (Kent) presented his paper ‘Through Thick and Thin: Russia, China, and the Future of Eurasian International Society’ at the first COMPASS WiPS of this new academic year. In the presentation, Zachary discussed one of the chapters from his PhD thesis, exploring whether or not there is a new regional International Society emerging, led by Russia and China. In the Q&A session, questions were asked about the English School approach used, issues of self-conceptualisation, and agency. Nine students and members of staff attended the seminar. ​

Work in Progress Seminars at Kent, 2018-2019 Academic Year

List of seminars

This academic year (2018-2019) we have hosted 9 COMPASS Work in Progress Seminars at the University of Kent. Between October and June, colleagues from Kent, BSIS and Leuven presented their research on wider Eurasia. Presentations ranged from conceptual contributions on governance and resilience to domestic developments in Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan and international cooperation within the framework of the EU, EEU and BRI.

Through the presentations and the in-depth discussions, the COMPASS affiliates at Kent have been able to exchange ideas and learn more about political developments in the region. We very much hope to continue the seminars in the next academic year, and to have the opportunity to invite colleagues from across the consortium to come present their work in Canterbury.

14 June 2019 – The Soviet influence in EU-Russia energy interdependence – Gabriel Lorca-Aicardi

Gabriel Lorca-Aicardi (Kent) gave a presentation on the interdependence between the EU and Russia in the field of energy, looking into the role of past ties and the influence of Soviet infrastructure in establishing current policies. Gabriel also addressed the challenges that exist for current and future energy projects and reflected on options for the EU to reduce its external energy dependency. The presented study will form the foundation for Gabriel’s Master dissertation project next academic year.

31 May 2019 – Women’s rights localisation in Kazakhstan: The role of networking – Polina Bishenden

Polina Bishenden (Kent) presented the first findings from her fieldwork in Kazakhstan, on the role of networking women’s rights localisation in Kazakhstan. The paper is part of Polina’s MA dissertation and addresses very relevant issues including donor funding, different waves of feminism and their role in the public debate, and forms of activist cooperation. In the presentation Polina also discussed the different concepts and approaches used in her research, and reflected on her research design and positioning as a researcher.

10 May 2019 – China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Counter-hegemony – Anisa Heritage and Pak K. Lee

Anisa Heritage and Pak K. Lee (Kent) presented a paper titled ‘China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Counter-hegemon’. The paper focuses on the bilateral China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), portrayed as the flagship project of the BRI, and Italy’s signing up to the BRI in March 2019 . Using the neo-Gramscian perspective, the paper reflects on how far China is able to espouse its own norms, rules and practices as part of a strategy to reshape the normative contours of global trade and investment.

12 April 2019 – The Turn Towards Resilience and Local Ownership in the EU’s External Governance in its Neighbourhood: A Sense of Deja Vu? – Irina Petrova

Irina Petrova (University of Leuven) presented a paper co-authored with Professor Laure Delcour (College of Europe) on the narratives and resilience and local ownership in the EU’s policies towards the Eastern Partnership states. Irina set out the main argument about the gap between narrative and implementation, and presented an analysis on different policy areas. In the discussion session we talked about the EU’s security policy, the new strategy towards Central Asia and the local practices resulting from the EU’s approach

22 March 2019 – Beyond Nationalism and Liberalism? Locating Aleksey Navalny within the Russian Political Field – Morvan Lallouet

Morvan Lallouet (Kent) presented his paper examining the positioning and ideological stances of the Russian liberal opposition on 22nd of March 2019. By exploring the concept of the ‘political field’ Morvan unpacked dynamics between three main political opposition candidates, rejecting the common understandings about the left-right division in Russian politics. During the Q&A session, questions were asked about regional division, the issue of attacks on human rights activists and the notion of ‘Russkiy mir’

8 February 2019 – Is the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) an Order-Making Regional Actor? An Internal-External Approach – Huawei Zheng

On 8th February Huawei Zheng (Kent) presented his work at the Work in Progress Seminar. Huawei’s PhD research examines to what extent the Eurasian Economic Union can be considered an order-making regional actor. In the presentation, Huawei introduced the conceptual framework and methodology for his PhD thesis, discussing the notions of international order and actorness. The presentation was well-received and led to a lively discussion in the seminar. Huawei will also present his work at the upcoming Student Convention at BSU, this April.

18 January 2019 – Power, Pride and Prejudice: Emotional Othering in Azerbaijan’s Presidential Discourse – Susanne Szkola

On 18th January 2019 Susanne Szkola (Kent Brussels School of International Studies) presented her work at the first COMPASS Work in Progress Seminar of the new year. The paper Susanne presented is titled “Power, Pride and Prejudice: Emotional Othering in Azerbaijan’s Presidential Discourse”. The paper focuses on the concept of ‘ontological security’, bringing together approaches from international relations, political psychology and discourse analysis. The seminar was attended by members of the COMPASS team and affiliates, PhD students and Master students at Kent. ​

7 December 2018 – Moscow, Beijing and the Future of International Society – Zach Paikin

The third COMPASS Work in Progress Seminar was held on the 7th of December. Zach Paikin presented his PhD research on ‘Moscow, Beijing and the Future of International Society’. He offered a critical assessment of the English school and Watson’s pendulum, and an analysis of the role of Russia and China in international society as well as the implications of the Russia-China relationship for the global order.

23 November 2019 – Complexity, resistance and resilience – Chris Henry

On 23rd November Dr Chris Henry presented a paper titled ‘Complexity, resistance and resilience’, built on the discussions held at the COMPASS workshop in Rome on the 9th of November. Chris specifically reflected on the works by David Chandler and Jonathan Joseph, as well as the broader conceptual discussion around the notion of resilience.

19 October 2018 – Governance and Resilience in wider Eurasia: connecting theory, geography and people – Elena Korosteleva

On 19th October 2018 Professor Elena Korosteleva launched the COMPASS WiPS by welcoming Kent project affiliates to this work-in-progress series and presenting her book project ‘Governance Resilience and Change in wider Eurasia’.