Networking and Conferencing on Belarus in London

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Speakers of my panel “Social and political movements”

Last Saturday I attended the 2nd conference “Belarusian Studies in the 21st century” organised by the Ostrogorski Centre, SSEES (UCL) and the Francis Skaryna Library in London.

This time the event attracted around 20 scholars and researchers from the places including the UK, Finnland, Lithuania, Germany and Japan who discussed their work and around 40 guest attendants. A special lecture on Francis Skaryna’s edition of the Bible followed the conference.

There are two major academic events on Belarus-related research. Both paradoxically take place… outside Belarus. One of them is the “International Congress of Belarusian Studies” (Kaunas) and the other one is the relatively young “Belarusian Studies in the 21st century” conference (London) .

I presented my work in progress in the panel “Social and political movements”. Actually, it was a thought-provoking that my topic on the Belarusian Protestants was assigned to this panel. Certainly, social movements framework is interesting – it suggests a shift in framing civil society from an individual participation to collective action, protest. However, in my research, I would rather lean to looking at it from the civil society perspective.

In general, conferences are very helpful – not only we can practice presenting skills, but, first of all, we can understand what is happening in the field, in this case, the field of Belarusian studies. As I noted earlier, there are not many events with an exclusive focus on Belarus. What is more, meeting new scholars, other PhD fellows is a refreshing experience and can be very inspiring.

This year I enjoyed a lot a presentation of Kristiina Silvan from the University of Helsinki. Kristiina studies pro-governmental youth organisations in Belarus and Russia. In her

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Kristiina and myself at the British Library event on the 500-th anniversary of translation of the Bible into Belarusian (two days after the conference)

presentation, she discussed the development of Belarusian youth organisation, BRSM. She interviewed young Belarusians, members of this organisation, looking, for example into their attitudes towards membership.

Kristian Roncero delivered another interesting presentation, although completely unrelated to my field. Kristian discussed suppletions in the West Polesian dialect. The whole audience seemed to be impressed by the way he presented a topic that normally would require a specialist knowledge.

Also, it was great to realize that there are quite a few of us, PhD students, who engage with Belarus-related research.

I look forward to the conference next year! #BelarusUK17

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