Our research

Södertörn University conducts extensive research, focusing on the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe, at all academic schools. Many research projects are funded via the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, while others receive funding from other sources. With a focus on ciritcal area studies, CBEES, the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies, is the university’s research centre for research on the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe.

CBEES’ task is to promote research in the area and to encourage and develop it. The centre should also be a dynamic meeting place for Swedish and international research. CBEES plays a particularly important role for research thanks to the international relations and networks that have been built up over the years. CBEES’s ambition is to be a knowledge hub for the research in the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe.

Research at Södertörn University is conducted in the fields of social science, the humanities, natural science and technology. Much of the focus on the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe is characterised by its multidisciplinarity.

We also regularly publish the international journal Baltic Worlds, which gathers new research. For more information, please contact  Ninna Mörner.

Currently, there are four research profiles at CBEES:

Challenges to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe come from different sources, including European integration. Since the first eastward enlargement in 2004, we have seen failed referendums on deepening integration, eurosceptic parties gaining ground throughout the EU, the rise of intolerance in many places, and most recently, social unrest brought about by the Euro crisis and the refugee crisis. In the face of growing cultural, religious and economic diversity, the notion of a common European political community is being challenged. While the EU has faced similar opposition in the past, recent developments – including the 2015 refugee crisis and Brexit in 2017 – have been interpreted as indicators of a more deep-seated backlash against the values and norms on which the EU is based, including democracy, human rights, tolerance, and respect for minority rights. Research on populism and political parties is also central to this theme.

Another approach of relevance to the theme relates to research on public opinion. Contrary to hopes, what we have seen in Central and Eastern Europe since the EU expansions indicate that the health of democracy in the region is not necessarily assured. The communist legacy has been suggested to explain the resilience of non-liberal orientations among citizens in the region; others have identified performance-related explanations (like corruption). We thus need a better understanding of public attitudes in the region as a whole. Here, perspectives from sociology, gender studies, economics, journalism and media and communication studies also become highly relevant

”Heritagisation” is the order of the day. The cult of heritage is expanding to cover more and more of the past as well as the present, and history appears to be a legitimately inherited and manageable possession. As inventions of modernity, collective identities are always in search of a continuity and permanence for themselves while building on disrupted traditions, shattered life worlds, and fragmented time. Overwhelmed by advance in communication technologies, present-day’s precarious subjects and societies seek to establish their identity by means of things that never die. Under the name of cultural heritage, such things become objects of special significance. Their priceless value and apparent eternity is maintained by permanently changing public and professional discourses, dynamic institutions, and volatile global markets.

This ever-expanding and accelerating process requires critical cultural and comparative historical perspectives for its understanding. These prove especially productive when applied in the study of Russia and Eastern Europe. The historical experience of modernization in this area is characterized by rapid and violent regime changes. Its sense of historicity is formed by the massive destruction of life and property in war and terror. Produced by the unique artistic and intellectual experience in social revolutions, evidence from this other side of Europe speaks eloquently of modernity’s general trends globally, its destructive effects and constructive interventions in relation to the past, its materialities, experiences, and values.

Since the end of the Cold War, geographical space has played a vital role in the social and political transformations of the Baltic region and Eastern Europe. As always, space provides a passive background arena upon which political discourses are articulated and social identities are negotiated. At the same time, however, space acts as an active and dynamic factor in its own right. It is at the center of a range of critical political processes, such as redrawing state boundaries, disputes over territories, shifting international political alliances, the resurgence of neo-imperialism, fragmentation within the EU, and the securitization of energy resources. The study of geopolitics, long stigmatized because of its historical association with the Nazi regime, has become normalized and indeed is enjoying a remarkable renaissance.

All of these political developments in turn affect the construction and articulation of social and national identities, and in this perceptual process geographical space once again emerges as a vital element. Indeed, Eastern Europe provides a veritable laboratory for the re-imagining of what might be called “spaces of identity”. Geographical constructions or re-constructions such as Eurasia, Russkii Mir, Mitteleuropa, the Polish Intermarium, the Western Balkans, and many others are deployed for instrumental political purposes but can also exert a powerful appeal on the public imagination. This is especially true when they are associated with civilizational ideas based on religion, cultural history, or other factors. This research theme will consider the broad spectrum of topics relating to these issues. Both contemporary and historical questions will be considered.

With a population numbering 6-4 million people the Roma are among the largest minorities in the EU. The Roma are geographically dispersed and historically, culturally and linguistically heterogeneous. Complex hierarchies have been constructed among the Roma based on authenticity, purity and other values to distinguish between ‘us’ and ‘them’, insiders and outsiders. Practices and meanings are entangled in local and trans-local social relations, places and times.

At the same time, in the current open world, migration has resulted in diffusion with different Romani groups co-existing and being affected by globalisation, new mobilities and transnational networks. Romani is the key language in inter- and intra-group interaction of the Roma in addition to the national languages of the host countries and, in some cases, foreign languages. Meanings, distinctions, performative speech and language attributed to “race” and social and class hierarchy are produced and reproduced among Roma by dynamic processes.

This thematic focus studies historically, culturally and linguistically heterogeneous Romani groups, and the dynamics of their interaction and language practices in particular in the Nordic and Baltic regions. It embraces anthropological, ethnographic, sociolinguistic and sociological approaches and envisages collaborative research projects of varying size, contributing to higher education and participating in a multi-strand impact agenda locally, nationally and at EU level.