This research area involves comparative explorations of European and Russian communities and public spaces as the sites where various actors meet and interact to create new social and cultural forms. In particular, we are interested in how particular economic, political, and cultural contexts, ideological orientations, cultural and professional backgrounds, and stylistic preferences of individual actors affect interactions between them, enable emergence and development of communities, and bring to life new meanings. A wide range of interdisciplinary research fields, including social, cultural, urban, organisational, and cognitive studies are brought together in the research using networks, systems, social space, and constructivist theoretical frameworks and methodologies.
Much of the research resonates with the area ‘Network Structures in Germany, Europe, and Russia and is carried out as part of joint anchor projects, such as ‘Dynamic of sociocultural network structures: Analysis of European creative collectives’. However, in 2019, CGES also started a new international anchor project: ‘Creation of knowledge on ecological hazards in Russian and European local communities’ (2019-2021, Co-PIs: Nikita Basov and Kseniia Puzyreva, CGES), supported by Russian Science Foundation. The project aims to understand how hazard-related knowledge is created in the interplay between expert and local knowledge in local flood-prone communities of Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. The findings, on the one hand, are to shed light on the fundamental mechanisms of the interplay between institutional and local knowledge in regional communities. On the other hand, the applied results involve ways to raise community engagement in the development of knowledge on flood management. The project team includes researchers based in Germany, France, the Netherlands, the UK, and Australia, as well as a number of Russian sociologists based at St. Petersburg State University, including CGES affiliated researchers and students.
As part of this research area, a CGES spin-off, ARTS4CITY studio, started in September 2015 with a corresponding project, conducted in collaboration with European National Institutes of Culture network (EUNIC) and Goethe Institute in St. Petersburg. Today, ARTS4CITY promotes multidisciplinary research related to contemporary urban culture in St. Petersburg. It pinpoints the issues in urban areas to be addressed with cultural means, studies them, and then carries out research-based and context-driven cultural interventions.
The projects bring together European and Russian artists, researchers, urbanists and urban dwellers of St. Petersburg. In 2017, in collaboration with the Fund for Real Estate of the Government of St. Petersburg, ARTS4CITY started ‘Arte Punctura’ project aimed at stimulating creative redevelopment of the ‘Red Triangle’ (RT) post-industrial zone in St. Petersburg. Dozens of CGES events are being conducted by ARTS4CITY studio, such as the non-commercial festival POLE, international workshops Genius Loci and ‘Art Revitalization of Industrial Territories’, discussions ‘Changing industrial territories. What can artists do?’ and ‘The grey belt’, and many more.
In addition, within this research area a range of CGES-affiliated researchers and other social scientists and humanities scholars are benefiting from financial, administrative, and advisory support for their research activities in Germany and Europe from the CGES. For instance, the study ‘Cultural transmission in small communities: The role of family, community and socio-political conditions in the life of Russian speakers in Spain and Australia’ by Raisa Akifyeva, NRU ‘Higher School of Economics’ and University of Western Australia examines language transmission, child-rearing practices, and the influence of the host society in ‘small’ communities of migrants in Madrid and Perth. Another study ‘Urban Aesthetics in Post-Socialist City with German Past: Practices of Assessing and Producing Aesthetic Properties of Architecture’ by Anastasia Halauniova, University of Amsterdam is focused on the role of aesthetic judgement and aesthetic changes of architecture in a city with a complex, multi-layered history of repossession – Wrocław, Poland. The project ‘Social history of Russian Berlin in the 1920s’, conducted by Konstantin Kotelnikov, Institute of History of St. Petersburg State University examines adaptation problems of Russian emigrants in Berlin in the period of 1919 – 1933 as well as delinquent behaviour of the Russian emigration in Berlin.
Within this area, individual researchers also benefit from the opportunity to organize CGES-supported events on the topics of their individual projects. A few examples are the seminars ‘Gendered (In)visibilities: Contemporary Art and Curatorial Practice in Russia and Europe’, ‘Creative labour in transition’, and the workshop ‘Artistic education between tradition and experiment’ by the former PhD Fellow of the CGES Margarita Kuleva, NRU ‘Higher School of Economics’.