The competition takes place annually and involves both Russian and European social sciences and humanities students interested in comparative Russian-European research.
The competition has been organized since 2014 by the Centre for German and European Studies in cooperation with the Council of Young Scientists, Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg University with support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Every spring, interested graduate and postgraduate students from Europe are invited to submit papers focused on topical issues of Russian studies / Russian societies, while papers by Russian students are invited on the issues cornerstone to European studies / European societies. We particularly welcome papers comparing Europe and Russia. Annually, several dozens of papers are submitted by authors from different European countries and Russia. Russia- and Europe-based authors of up to six (three on each side) selected papers are invited to the final.
The competition final takes place at the CGES in St. Petersburg every November. During the event, authors of selected papers present them to the jury comprising Russian and German social scientists and answer their questions. Following a discussion, the jury selects the winners.
Authors of the best papers receive financial support from the CGES to conduct empirical research in Europe (for Russian students) or Russia (for European students). Elaborated papers presenting results of these empirical studies are then internationally published online in the CGES Working Papers series.
Furthermore, the jury may highlight other finalist papers the authors of which get their research supported by the CGES as well.
Finalists are also invited to take part in the international workshop on paper preparation and publication in international scientific journals under the guidance of Dr. Verena Molitor, Bielefeld University. During the workshop, participants learn how to improve their writing skills, how to work with the structure and the content of an article and how to compose abstracts. Particular attention is paid to the peer-review process and to the logic of papers’ editing and revising in European journals, which is essential to know for every researcher aimed at an international career.
The first competition organized in 2014 attracted 15 research papers from Russia and Europe in various social science domains including sociology, economics, linguistics, and international relations. Five finalists from Russia, Germany, and Ukraine presented their papers to the jury.
The winner among the European scholars was Sonja Schiffers, MA student at Free University of Berlin with the paper ‘Dependency in Disguise. Evaluating Russia’s Engagement in Abkhazia since 2008 within the Framework of International Peace- and Statebuilding’. Sonja was awarded a grant for field research in Abkhazia and Tbilisi, conducted in June/July 2015 and serving as a basis for her CGES working paper on ‘The Intricacies of International Assistance to De Facto States Human Security and International Engagement in Abkhazia’.
Among the Russian finalists, the award went to Irina Antoshchuk, PhD Candidate at St. Petersburg University and European University at St. Petersburg, alumna of the Master's programme ‘Studies in European Societies’ with the paper ‘Co-authorship Patterns of Russian Computer Scientists in the United Kingdom: Tracing Connections and Identifying Diaspora Knowledge Networks’. The CGES supported the author’s internship at the University of Exeter, UK in February 2015 in order to pursue her research project on ‘Co-authorship patterns of Russian computer scientists in the UK and scientific diaspora engagement policies’.
In the years to follow, the number of submitted papers has been steadily increasing as well as the geographic coverage of the competition. Authors from Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Finland, France, Russia, Turkey, and the UK became finalists at different times. Over the years, the jury included representatives of St. Petersburg University, Bielefeld University, European University at St. Petersburg, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Higher School of Economics, and Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The winners of the competition undertook research trips to different parts of Europe, including Belarus, Belgium, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, and the UK, as well as to various places in Russia. The research resulted in a number of articles in the CGES Working Paper series.
In 2020, owing to the worldwide travel restrictions, for the first time in its history the final of the competition was held online.
More information on the previous competitions can be found via these links:
- Сompetition of 2020
- Сompetition of 2019
- Сompetition of 2018
- Сompetition of 2017
- Сompetition of 2016
- Сompetition of 2015
- Сompetition of 2014
Below we present some of the competition winners throughout the years and their impressions.
Eline Helmer, University College London, UK
Eline Helmer won the fifth competition with a paper presenting the pilot study of her PhD project supervised by Prof. Anne White and Dr Seth Graham, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) 'Tact in Translation: Negotiating trust by the Russian interpreter, at home and abroad'.
Eline was supported by the CGES to conduct empirical research in Russia in order to conduct interviews and participant observations with professional Russian interpreters working in both Western Russia and Western Europe and to analyse the different ways in which Russian interpreters manage to negotiate trust.
Supported by the CGES, I carried out fieldwork in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Pskov for my PhD project 'Tact in Translation: Negotiating trust by the Russian interpreter, at home and abroad' in the spring of 2019. I interviewed 23 interpreters and joined them during their work to carry out participant observation. This coming November, I will submit an article based on this fieldwork to the CGES Working Papers. In my article, I will describe the role of the interpreter as an 'everyday diplomat'. Besides financial assistance, the CGES provided me with guidance concerning coding software to analyse my interview transcripts. I am very grateful for the support I received and look forward to continuing to collaborate with the CGES in the future.
Eline’s research trip and further analysis resulted in the CGES Working paper on ‘Smoothening and Softening: The Interpreter as an Everyday Diplomat’.
Anna Dupak, St Petersburg University, Russia
Anna Dupak presented her paper on ‘Digital self-tracking in healthcare practices of students from Russia and Europe’ at the final of the sixth competition in 2019 and was awarded a travel grant.
In March 2020, Anna conducted a research trip to Munich in order to collect empirical data for her research devoted to the development of digital health technologies which leads to the great involvement of people in self-tracking.
Here is what Anna tells about her impressions:
In order to find informants, I’ve spent the first few days of my research trip in the libraries and canteens of Munich universities (as being a student is one of my sampling criteria). I had been asking local students about their self-tracking experience. It was quite challenging for me, especially at the beginning: Just imagine trying to talk to 8-10 complete strangers every day! Doesn’t it seem to be a bit stressful? As a result, I arranged some meetings and conducted a number of interviews with students from different parts of Germany and even from Belgium which made my sample more diverse and interesting. Luckily, many of them were willing to help me and happy to share their self-tracking experience. Some even offered showing me around the city, which was a nice bonus. All in all, I’m really happy that CGES provided me with such a great opportunity to conduct field work for my project in Germany. As soon as I finish data analysis I shall start working on publications.
Anna’s research trip yielded her CGES Working paper ‘Digital self-tracking in healthcare practices of Russian and European students’.
Lola Rouze, Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University, France
Lola was one of the finalists of the fifth competition. At the final, she presented a paper ‘Is the Modernisation of Public Administrations a Reality in European Union Member States and the Russian Federation?’ and was supported to conduct her study on modernisation of public administrations in Russia in the framework of her project ‘The modernisation of Public Administrations in the European Union and in the Russian Federation: University International Relations Offices Case’.
Lola shares her impressions of the research trip:
From the 8th of April to the 7th of May 2019, I had the luck to carry on my research in St. Petersburg. During this trip, I received the best help from the CGES team, especially to upgrade my two questionnaires. They now fully cover the four areas retained to assess the modernisation of the public administrations chosen, that are the International Relations Desks (IRDs). I also created an online version of them. They have been launched and target students and teacher-researchers who travelled in the European Union and the Russian Federation thanks to IRDs, as well as civil servants who work(ed) in an IRD. I also took advantage of my time there to do two interviews with experts in the field of Russian public administrations and transcribed them. Then, I will combine all the data and analyse the results so as to prepare a draft article before November. I would like to thank very much the CGES for this opportunity and the help given by the library I have been to every weekend!
The results of Lola’s research can be found in her CGES Working paper on ‘The modernisation of Public Administrations in the European Union and in the Russian Federation: University International Relations Offices Case’. This paper compares the modernisation levels of the Universities’ International Relations Offices in the Russian Federation and in the European Union. The analysis is based on Max Weber’s definition of modernity and uses the results of a questionnaire survey distributed among the civil servants working in Russian and European IROs, as well as their users.
Irina Antoschyuk, St. Petersburg University and European University at St. Petersburg, Russia
In 2017, Irina Antoschyuk won the competition for the second time with the paper-based on her doctoral research project ‘Russian Computer Scientists in the UK: Professional Contacts in the Migration Process’ and gained the opportunity to go on another research trip to the UK.
Irina’s project is devoted to diaspora knowledge networks formed by Russian-speaking computer scientists as migrants from countries of the former Soviet Union, who moved after 1991 and live(d) in the United Kingdom holding academic positions of teaching and research.
Irina tells about this research experience:
The trip to the UK gave me an opportunity to collect 20 interviews for my research, and also to welcome spring two months earlier than in St. Petersburg. I am studying diaspora knowledge networks of Russian-speaking computer scientists for several years now, but after forming a database of all scholars in the UK based on publications, I found that the interviews I have cover only some groups of scientists. Thanks to the CGES’ grant, I visited several universities and Cambridge Science Park, met whole teams of Russian-speaking scientists as well as bright individual innovators and technoentrepreneurs. I talked to scientists with a variety of biographical trajectories, including those who left British academia and are working in other countries, and those who gave up science and is building a career in a company. As a result, I succeeded in collecting a rich dataset, that reflects the most diverse migration experience and professional career building of Russian-speaking scientists.
Research trip provided a basis for Irina’s CGES Working paper on 'The notion of diaspora knowledge network revisited: Highly skilled migrants forming a new invisible college'.
Irina Zamishchak, Higher School of Economics, Russia
Irina was supported by the CGES as an award for winning the sixth competition with a paper ‘The Breach of University Autonomy as a ‘Critical Juncture’: Career Strategies of the Scholars from the European Humanitarian University (EHU)’. The paper was devoted to the influence of different political contexts on academic freedom and, hence, on the careers of scholars. In February 2020, Irina conducted a research trip to Minsk and Vilnius in order to gain primary data and expand her study.
Irina shares her impressions about the trip:
During my research trip, I conducted interviews with academics of Belarussian universities that had to relocate to Lithuania due to the conflict with the country’s authorities. In Vilnius, I interviewed lecturers working at EHU while in Minsk I talked to those who left university at different times. The analysis of their professional biographies and opinions on changes at the university after its move to from Belarus to Lithuania led to interesting outcomes. For example, the image of the university in the interviews appeared as fragmented and contradictive, which can be explained by the university’s existence simultaneously in two countries contexts. And of course, the journey to the two countries such as Lithuania and Belarus, which are so close geographically, but so different, is an unforgettable cultural experience.
See the results of Irina’s research in the CGES Working paper ‘Transformation of the ‘University-in-Exile’: Academic Identity of the Scholars from European Humanities University (EHU)’. This paper contributes to the studies of academic identity in Eastern Europe and calls for more attention to the analysis of political and social context in higher education studies.
Tibor Wilhelm Benedek, independent researcher, Hungary
Tibor Benedek won the competition in 2017 with a paper ‘Integrated Islam in Russia’ exploring the notion of an ‘integrated’ religion through a systemic perspective. The CGES travel grant allowed him to conduct a research trip to Moscow and Makhachkala, where Tibor surveyed 500 Muslims to test his theorization presented in the book ‘Pioneers of liberal Islam – Impressions from Moscow and St. Petersburg’ using quantitative data.
The field trip to Moscow and Makhachkala has become another stepping stone to the further study of Russian Islam. With my first book, I argued that official Islam in Russia is an integral part of Russian society. I worked with relevant scientific literature and interviewed religious studies scholars and sociologists. However, the feedback on this work in Europe was scarce. Life of Muslims in Russia appears to be an exotic and bold topic to large parts of the academia. New ideas and information consolidate gradually. To conduct research based on quantitative data collected through a survey was one of the ways for me to spike interest and attractiveness in this new topic.
I surveyed 250 Muslims in Moscow and 250 - in Makhachkala. The data collected during my trip will reveal attitudes, values, and opinions of these people. It has not been easy for me as a European researcher and a non-native speaker to survey 500 people on such a polarizing topic as religion. However, the two weeks of work have shown that it is possible. I dedicate this project to young researchers who are tired of predefined topics in the academia. This research trip to Russia became an opportunity for me to learn more about cross-cultural communication and to gather data on the largest Muslim minority in Europe.
The findings of Tibor’s research trip laid the foundation of his CGES Working paper on 'The State of Russian Islam – Politicization and Religiosity'.
Anastasia Golofast, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russia
Anastasia became the winner of the competition in 2016 with a paper ‘Exogenous shock as institutional change factor for the EU’. Her research focuses on the dynamics of the delegation of authority in the European Union in relation to the refugee ‘crisis’. Supported by CGES, Anastasia collected interview data from academics and experts in EU affairs in Brussels, worked with library databases of the European Commission, the House of European History, and the Parlamentarium (the European Parliament’s visitor centre). These data guided the author to deeper layers of the international debate on the EU’s future.
After a three-hour flight, I was already standing in the Parlamentarium of Brussels studying the documents that laid the foundations of the European integration. Afterwards, I enjoyed the masterful graphic delivery of the continent’s development in the House of European History. I spent a couple of highly productive days in the European Commission Library. On one of the charming rainy days, I interviewed a representative of the Centre for European Policy Studies. I went on an academic excursion to the University of Leuven and I examined the book collection at Librarie Europeenne - a book shop specializing in the academic literature on European integration. Brussels amazed me with its special pace of life, with its peculiar blend of antiquity and innovation, with the nobility of the European quarter and with the eclecticism of the historic centre, with the quietness and tranquility of the parks, with the richness of cultural life and with the business acumen which makes the city comparable to a European New York. My passion for European Studies grew stronger and gained a new source of inspiration due to this experience. I am infinitely grateful to CGES for the rare opportunity to visit the EU’s heart and to feel its pace and spirit.
Anastasia’s research trip resulted in her CGES Working paper on 'Managing EU’s complexity under shock'.