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Utgaver i tidsskriftet Nordisk Østforum

Nordisk Østforum (NØF) dekker politisk, økonomisk og kulturell utvikling i Russland, Balkan, Øst-Europa og det postsovjetiske området. Tidsskriftet inviterer forskere til å ta del i den nordiske debatten om utviklingen i et av våre viktigste nærområder.

  1. Abstract:East is East and West is West? Comparing Party System Stability in Europe 2008–2019
    This article compares trends in party system stability in Central/ Eastern Europe (CEE) and Western Europe, to see if recent studies indicating that the two regions have become more similar hold when the results of outcomes of several post-financial-crisis elections are taken into consideration. Further, it enquires into the underlying causes of electoral volatility and whether they differ between the two regions. In all, 82 parliamentary elections in 25 EU countries 2008–2019 are analyzed as regards electoral volatility (Pedersen’s Index) and support for new parties (‘volatility type A’). The results show that, when the most likely confounding variables are controlled for, a significant difference between the two regions remains, but also that there is a converging trend on both indicators. Moreover, whereas electoral volatility in the West is driven by the level of corruption together with the effective number of parties, unemployment and economic growth as well as the number of effective parties are the main factors explaining the same phenomenon in CEE. There is also evidence that volatility in CEE, unlike in Western Europe, is also driven by a path-dependent logic, where previous volatility scores explain subsequent ones. That finding may have implications for the prospects of future party system stabilization.


  2. Abstract: What happened to the ‘East’? An introduction and a postscript
    Is it still – if it has ever been – relevant to talk about the “East” as a special region? This article introduces, frames, and concludes on the Nordisk Østforum special theme series What happened to the “East”? It provides the theoretical foundation for the four empirical studies included in the special theme series. The article discusses the historical roots and general negative connotations surrounding the notion of “East” in both the “West” and the “East” as well as the recent revival of “Eastern” identities and their relations to the surge of illiberal currents on the global scene. Before outlining the findings of the four empirical studies, the article discusses the notion of region, offering a more dynamic concept than implied by the classical focus on geographical proximity. The article concludes by discussing the continued relevance of the “East” prefix in light of the findings of the four empirical studies. While there are manifest differences between “East” and “West” we need to caution ourselves against stereotypifications that disregard the variance and dynamics within and across the members of the two regions. The demarcation between the two are in no way fixed.

  3. Abstract: A tragedy of the Galician diversity: Murder and commemoration of Polish professors killed in Lviv during WWII
    In popular imagery, the former Habsburg province of Galicia and its capital city Lemberg/Lwów/Lviv have been acclaimed for their unique mixture of religions, cultures and nationalities. However, there are also darker sides of this Galician diversity, as became evident during the wars and crises of the first half of the twentieth century. It is instructive to explore how the entanglements between collective and individual choices, cultural genealogies and political aspirations looked in practice in this part of Europe, and how historical events of the twentieth century have reflected this complexity. This article explores one such event: the murder of a group of eminent Polish academics during the Nazi occupation of Lviv/Lwów. After the war, this tragic episode was commemorated quite independently in the two parts of Galicia now divided by the redrawn Polish–(Soviet)Ukrainian border. The episode remains controversial due to the contradictory interpretative frameworks and agenda-setting of various actors involved into the memorialization. The author draws on Michael Rothberg’s concept of multidirectional memory to highlight how reverberations of Galician diversity can be approached from an anthropological perspective, focusing on meaning-making and agency.

  4. Abstract: Russia’s operationalization of a sphere of interest in the South Caucasus
    A central foreign policy objective of Russia is to maintain an exclusive sphere of interest in its post-Soviet neighbourhood. This article analyses how Russia employs a combination of political and military instruments in operationalizing its perceived sphere of interest in the still conflict-ridden South Caucasus. Russia is the only external power in the region to have military bases there, and is the only one seemingly ready to undertake military action. At present, Russia appears satisfied with the status quo in the South Caucasus. The unresolved conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh are therefore unlikely to be resolved in the near future. Unresolved conflicts suit Russia’s objectives. Russian military bases in Georgia and Armenia provide Moscow with both a key lever against Tbilisi and Yerevan and a structural advantage for potential Russian military operations in the region. Russia’s military posture in the Caucasus is relevant to the potential for large-scale conflict in the Southern war theatre, including the wider Middle East, and not just local conflicts in the Caucasus.

  5. Abstract: EU Actorness in the South Caucasus: Possibilities and Limitations
    Despite significant institutional changes and refinements since its creation in 2004, the ENP (European Neighborhood Policy) remains a major tool available to the EU for providing incentives for reform and stability in non-member states through the diffusion of its norms and rules. Earlier studies, drawing on the Europeanization conceptual framework, have been mostly concerned about how and by which mechanisms compliance with EU rules takes place, rather than focusing on whether and to what extent it occurs. By contrast, this article assesses the actorness of the EU in three countries of the South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan), viewing actorness as composed of three dimensions – capability, opportunity, and presence – enabling and constraining the aspirations of the EU to be an international actor in the South Caucasus.

  6. Abstract: Trauma and Collective Memories in Georgia’s Foreign Policy
    Georgia’s foreign policy since the mid-1990s would appear to be a regional anomaly. While Georgia’s neighbors have either accommodated to Russia’s geopolitical interests or sought to navigate between Russia and the West, Georgian governments have pursued a comparatively stable pro-Western foreign policy orientation. Thus, structural arguments like geographic proximity, or Russia’s assertive foreign policy, cannot account for the variation in foreign-policy orientation among post-Soviet states. Moreover, although alternative explanations, like Georgia’s European identity and commitment to democracy, or explanations related to qualities of the Mikheil Saakashvili government, are not without merits, they cannot fully account for the continuity in Georgia’s pro-Western foreign policy over time. This article argues that the collective memory of the traumatic years 1989–1994 is a key factor for understanding Georgia’s foreign policy continuity. The collective memory and trauma related to loss of territory, together with a weak state and Russia’s negative involvement, have shaped the strategic thinking of Georgia’s foreign policy elites. This trauma explains Georgia’s shift to a pro-Western foreign policy in the mid-1990s and the continuity of this policy up until today. This argument is supported by the author’s interviews with key Georgian decision-makers responsible for foreign policy decisions.

  7. Abstract: Security and Vulnerability After Armenia’s Velvet Revolution: Elite Perceptions on Gender Equality, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution
    The Velvet Revolution in spring 2018 and the snap elections that followed in December 2018 shook Armenia. This article examines the country’s new political elite and other central social elites, and their affective and evaluative beliefs with respect to human security, drawing on an elite survey conducted in 2017 and 2019, complemented by in-depth interviews. The aim is to shed light on whether Armenia’s elite-level political culture is headed for progressive change concerning the rights of disadvantaged groups, primarily women and sexual minorities – an expectation among the young and educated in Yerevan. This study finds that, as regards reducing vulnerability and increasing the security and freedom of choice for those traditionally disadvantaged in Armenian society, the values and judgments of the new elites have remained basically traditional.

  8. Abstract in English:
    Russia of Power
    Ingerid M. Opdahl reviews Russia of Power, a report by more than 40 Finnish researchers and experts on contemporary Russia from the perspective of security.

  9. Abstract in English:
    Close and Distant. Political Executive-Media Relations in Four Countries

    Elin Strand Larsen reviews Close and Distant. Political Executive-Media Relations in Four Countries. Edited by Karl Magnus Johansson and Gunnar Nygren, the book is based on a three-year long research project and analysis of the relationship between politicians, press secretaries and journalists in four countries – Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. By conducting thorough, well-coordinated research and numerous research interviews (20–25 from each country), the research group has studied the interplay between government and media in the period 2014–2017. The anthology contains four country-specific chapters, as well as the following cross-national themes: government communication, social media, source-journalist relationships, mediatisation and political communication cultures.

  10. Abstract in English:
    Review of Vory: den ryska supermaffian
    Mi Lennhag reviews Vory: den ryska supermaffian(The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia) by Mark Galeotti (translated by Manne Svensson). The book examines organized crime in the Soviet Union and in post-Soviet Russia. Historical, political and cultural contexts help explaining the Russian mafia and the phenomenon vory. Galeotti pictures a Russian society where politics and organized crime remain closely linked.

  11. Abstract in English:
    The Red Underworld. Secret Communist Activity in Scandinavia between the World Wars
    Mette Skak reviews The Red Underworld. Secret Communist Activity in Scandinavia between the World Wars (original title Den røde underverden.Hemmelig kommunistisk virksomhed i Skandinavien mellem to verdenskrige).

  12. Abstract in English:
    The Shaman in a Rain of Stars: A Journey to the Centre of Asia

    Ingvar Svanberg reviews 'The Shaman in a Rain of Stars: A Journey to the Centre of Asia' by B. MiRee Abrahamsen. The book is a travelogue from the Russian republics of Khakassia and Tuva in Siberia. Abrahamsen introduces the readers to the history of these regions as well as the everyday life of people living there in 2018, and gives a personal description of shamanism as a religious phenomenon.


  13. Abstract in English:
    Russia and the Beginning of History
    Morgan Olofsson's Russia and the Beginning of History consists of several interviews that the former Swedish news correspondent made with people he met in the 1990s. The purpose, he says, is to see how people have fared in the timespan from the 1990s to 2018, but also, more ambitiously, to sustain a dialogue between people on topics like the gradual dissemination of authoritarian political systems. Olofsson argues that we "need to learn from history" to protect democratic values; that is, values that connect people. The structure of the book is reminiscent of Mikhail Zygar's All the Kremlin's Men (2016), short annotated chapters, with introductions. The interviews stand out as sharp and perceptive, but the structure and editing of the book leaves more to be desired. 

  14. Contemporary Russian Conservativism consists of 15 chapters by diverse hands but nevertheless has a high degree of coherence. The volume rightly highlights the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in the promotion of conservativism and “traditional values”. Many of the participants in the media debates around this issue no doubt hold sincere views while, as the editors argue, Putin and his entourage most likely adopted this new ideology for pragmatic reasons.

  15. Ingmar Oldberg reviews In the North, the East and West Meet. Festschrift for Jens Petter Nielsen, edited by Kari Aga Myklebost and Stian Bones. This book contains 26 articles in Norwegian, English and Russian, starting with a good presentation of Professor Nielsen’s life and career. In keeping with his interests, the well annotated articles cover several themes; the centenary of the Russian revolution, Norwegian-Russian relations since the Middle Ages, especially in the High North, Russian arts, and scientific cooperation. The book is beautifully illustrated.

  16. Abstract in English:
    Fragments of the Past – History's Role in Russian Contemporary Literature
    Fragmenter av fortid – Historiens rolle i russisk samtidslitteratur is a thorough analysis of the utilisation of history in post-Soviet Russian literature. The author argues that literature functions as a 'place of reflection' that can produce vital alternatives to the monolithic understanding of history promoted by the authorities, and as such, literature has regained its traditional influence in Russian society following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

  17. Abstract: Narrating Otherness in Poland and Sweden – European Heritage as a Discourse of Inclusion and Exclusion
    Jørn Holm-Hansen reviews the anthology Narrating Otherness in Poland and Sweden – European Heritage as a Discourse of Inclusion and Exclusion edited by Krzysztof Kowalski, Łucja Piekarska-Duraj & Barbara Törnquist-Plewa.

  18. Abstract:Letters from Russia. The Truth about Despotic Russia
    Søren Riishøj reviews Letters from Russia. The Truth about Despotic Russia, a translation into Danish of the French 19th-century artistocrat, Marquis de Custine’s published collection of letters with impressions from Russia.

  19. Abstract:1989 – The Year That Transformed Europe
    Thomas Lundén (Centrum för Östersjö- och Östeuropaforskning (CBEES), Södertörns högskola) reviews 1989 – Året som endret Europa (1989 – The Year That Transformed Europe) written by Per Anders Madsen.

  20. Abstract:The Sleeping Country. Siberia in Russian History, Culture and Geography
    Torben Heuer (lecturer in Russian language and culture, formerly affiliated with Aarhus University) reviews Det sovande landet. Sibirien i rysk historia, kultur och geografi(The Sleeping Country. Siberia in Russian History, Culture and Geography) written by Margareta Attius Sohlman.