Translating Russian & East European cultures: Exchange and communication within a multidisciplinary and multicultural Area Studies context

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Social & Political Sciences


'Knowledge Transfer' and 'Interdisciplinarity' are at the heart of many research initiatives in the UK drawing attention to the ways in which academic knowledge shapes disciplinary boundaries and connects academia and society more generally. Such agendas are underpinned by state-led initiatives which challenge academic knowledge to acquire greater relevance and saliency for UK society.

Within this context, the current proposal aims to explore critically the multiple ways in which Russian and East European cultures are translated, constructed and narrated within the multidisciplinary and multicultural context of Russian, Central and East European Studies.

The Research Network initiative has been shaped by the multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural Area Studies context associated with the activities of the Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies (CRCEES). Area Studies, with its mix of disciplines from the Arts and Humanities as well as the Social Sciences and efforts to translate and construct cultures provides a stimulating context within which to reflect critically on the issues of disciplinary languages, knowledge exchange and creative collaborations.

The proposal consists of a series of workshops, training sessions, roundtables, and Summer School participation focussed around the development and staging of a public event which is to take place in Glasgow towards the end of the initiative. The various activities and main event will bring together academics from a range of disciplines and institutions in addition to professional artists, school children and other interested groups in order to explore the central theme of 'Translating Russian & East European cultures.'

Specific research objectives include:
1.To examine how understandings of Russian and East European cultures are communicated and translated across disciplinary, linguistic and academic-end user boundaries.
2.To consider the potential for Area Studies to facilitate innovative means of knowledge exchange given its multidisciplinary basis, training and practices both between disciplines as well as across academic-end user boundaries and cultural divides.
3.To develop and trial a range of dissemination techniques and practices drawing from expertise within both academic and non-academic contexts.
4.To encourage the involvement of end user communities (school children, general public, local/national government representatives, non-governmental organisations) at all stages of the initiative (i.e. initial preparation, staging of the main event, and post-event evaluative activities.)

The activities and outcomes of the proposal will have relevance for a broad range of end users/beneficiaries (e.g. general public, schools, state/non-state organisations) as well as for disciplines across the Arts/Humanities and Social Sciences.

Planned Impact

The initiative promises to benefit a range of end user/beneficiary groups via its inclusive Steering Group management structure and sequence of workshops/activities leading towards a Main Public Event. These include:

(i)Academics (postgraduates as well as more senior academics) interested in exploring the ways in Russian and East European cultures are translated, constructed and narrated within an interdisciplinary context. In addition, those academics interested in examining broader interdisciplinary and/or knowledge exchange agendas. The Steering Group includes non-UK academics and the workshop based in the Czech Republic will provide further opportunities for non-UK based academics to take a meaningful role in the initiative. The Workshops will facilitate discussion/debate and provide opportunities for specialist training in areas of communication, narration etc. The initiative will also generate best-practice case studies to assist similar activities elsewhere.

(ii)Professional artists interested in furthering knowledge exchange agendas and/or exploring themes related to Russia and East European cultures. Collaborating partners include the Scottish Storytelling Centre (Edinburgh) and other professional artists have confirmed their willingness to participate.

(iii)Teachers interested in engendering discussion and creative responses within the classroom with respect to Russian and East European cultures and related areas of migration, daily life experiences etc. The Workshop and Public Event will also provide school children with the opportunity to take an active role in communicating their understanding of Russian/East European cultures. This will include reflections on the experiences of East European communities in the Glasgow region building on current work by the CRCEES network. Participating schools include Govan High School & Shawlands Academy (both Glasgow).

(iv)State/non-state actors interested in furthering knowledge exchange agendas and reflecting on barriers to/potential of such exchanges. The thematic focus on Russian and East European cultures will also be of specific interest to certain groups. One of the initiative's collaborating partners is the Scotland-Russia Forum (Edinburgh). Furthermore, the Office of the Chief Researcher, Scottish Government, has agreed to take an active part in the initiative and will facilitate access to policy/end user groups throughout Scotland.

(v)General public will be given the opportunity to explore aspects of Russian and East European culture via the Main Public Event which aims to incorporate contributions from academics, professional artists and school children. The event is to take place in the Gilmorehill G12 Centre, Glasgow.

Many of the impacts associated with the initiative will occur during the 20 month funded period. Nevertheless, the proposed publications and dissemination of good practice will have their greatest impact following the completion of the initiative.

Specific impacts include:
(i)Development of academic expertise and 'know-how' related to understandings of Russian and East European cultures as well as broader themes of interdisciplinarity and knowledge exchange.
(ii)Development of expertise and 'know how' concerning Russian and East European cultures and broader themes of knowledge exchange within a range of end user communities including professional artists, schools and government.
(ii)Innovation in areas of methodology with specific reference to interdisciplinary exchange and end user engagement and related to key themes of communication and storytelling.
(iii)Development of cultural understanding amongst the general public via the Main Public Event.

The initiative's website will provide a key focal point for depositing relevant materials ('best practice', reflective pieces, podcasts etc.) and hosting discussions.


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Description The TREEC network (Translating Russian and East European Cultures) was established in 2011 and aims to explore critically the multiple ways in which Russian and East European cultures are translated, constructed and narrated within the multidisciplinary and multicultural context of Russian, Central and East European Studies. It brings together scholars from a range of universities and across the social sciences and the arts and humanities. It also involves a number of non-academic partners and collaborating organisations e.g. Scottish Storytelling Centre, Scotland-Russia Forum, Glasgow Schools in addition to a range of other cultural organisations.

Events have included:
(1)28-29 Sep 2012: Translating Russian and East European Cultures, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow
This event includes a major retrospective of Slovenian artists Marina Gržinic and Aina Šmid's video work curated by Katarzyna Kosmala, reflections on 'Approaches to community engagement through art' by Brendan Jackson, music by the Welsh-Estonian music collaboration SILD as well as a postgraduate workshop exploring 'Intersectionality in the study of Central and East Europe.'

(2)Intersectionality in the Study of Central and East Europe, BASEES Postgraduate Workshop, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (2012)

(3)Bodies in Translation (2012)
This event (held at the University of Nottingham) will explore aspects of performance and communication linked to the over-arching theme of 'translating cultures'.

(4)Russian language in the curriculum (2012)
A workshop addressing the themes of Russian language teaching & Slavonic studies within the Scottish education system and Russian & Slavonic studies and the UK education sector.

(5)Translating Storytelling, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh (2012)
Performance event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh: Can storytelling connect us if we speak different languages? Can it cross geographic frontiers and bring us closer together?

(6)Understandings of 'home' and belonging: migrant communities in Glasgow (2012)
Two follow-up events to the October ESRC Festival of Science event, organised in collaboration with students from Govan High School and Shawlands Academy.

(7)Translating Storytelling, St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow (2012)
Performance event at St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow: Can storytelling connect us if we speak different languages? Can it cross geographic frontiers and bring us closer together?

(8)CRCEES - Lesbian Lives: Stories and Memories from Russia and Poland (2012)
What was life like for lesbian and bisexual women in Soviet Russia? How have public images of homosexuality changed in post-communist Poland? Talks and discussion at Glasgow Women's Library.

(9)Book Launch 2 December 2011: Eric Dickens: Dedalus Book of Estonian Literature
Launch of 'The Dedalus Book of Estonian Literature', 5.30pm, John Smith Bookshop, Fraser Building

(10)Seminar on Estonian Literature and Literary Translation (CEES) 1 December 2011
Estonian Literature & Literary Translation, with Eric Dickens

(11)Lectures - Estonian Art (2011)
Two Lectures by young Estonian artist Marko Mäetamm

(12)ESRC Festival of Social Science event "Understandings of place, place-making and home" (2011)
The TREEC team, in collaboration with CRCEES and GRAMNet (Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network), organised the following event as part of the ESRC's Festival of Social Science. The event includes students from 5 Glasgow secondary schools.

(13)5th CRCEES Postgraduate Research Methodology Summer School (2011)
The 5th CRCEES Postgraduate Research Methodology Summer School - Politics of Language: Approaches to Nations, Communities and Cultures in Contemporary Central Europe - took place at New York University, Prague (11-20 July 2011).

(14)Symposium 'Mashing Up: Curating Practice', CCA (2011)
A Symposium featuring Ryszard Kluszczynski, "Curating Art@ Science; curating Mediations: Reflections on the working in-between" and Brendan Jackson, "Small world, isn't it?"

(15)GoMA Roundtable Event (2011)
A roundtable on knowledge exchange as participatory practice - exploring links between play and visual pedagogies and the private view of the exhibition Blueprint for a Bogey, which includes the artwork, Women@Play
Exploitation Route The TREEC initiative continues to play a role in furthering the impact agenda of the Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies (Glasgow).
Sectors Creative Economy,Education

Description The initiative involved the organisation of a wide range of cultural events including: (i)Schools events (Glasgow-based schools) in tandem with Glasgow-based artists; (ii)Postgraduate research training workshops (international); (iii)Public events - Centre for Contemporary Arts (Glasgow); Scottish Storytelling Centre (Edinburgh); (iv)Public workshops (Russia in the school curriculum) - held at the Scotland-Russia Institute. Elements of the research have also been published.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Creative Economy,Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal