University of Wisconsin–Madison

“What is the region? Making Sense of Russia, the Former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia”

When: April 20, 2017 4:00 pm

Where: 206 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive

Speakers:Yoshiko Herrera, Dimitri Kofanov, Anton Shirikov, Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

About the panel: Since the fall of communism and end the Soviet Union, the question of what to call the region or regions of countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union has vexed scholars. This question is not just a matter of labels, but of what determines the boundaries as well as content of the underlying region. Is the region merely geographic, as in east of Paris, west of Alaska, and north of Cairo—somewhere between Europe and Asia? Or should we divide the area between Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia? But where does that leave Russia? In our paper, we address these issues empirically, using model-based cluster analysis to examine how similar or different are 29 post-communist countries of Eurasia. Our analysis shows that multiple representations and divisions of the post-communist space are possible, and simplistic representations of this space, such as the East-West divide, or Eastern Europe vs former Soviet Union, are inadequate. We also find dramatic changes through time, with some countries and groups of countries moving in different directions than others.