Ülo Sooster, Egg Split in Four (1968-70), oil and cardboard (Art Museum of Estonia)

Disentangling Eurasia

Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and their Successors

Third Tallinn Summer School in Soviet History & Culture

28 July–4 August 2023

Tallinn University School of Humanities

Tallinn, Estonia

The enrollment for the summer school is closed. Acceptance letters have been sent.

Tallinn University invites graduate students and scholars of Soviet and post-Soviet history for a week-long summer school, offering a unique opportunity to reassess and critically examine the field at a time of great upheaval in the region. Through keynotes, workshops, and a stimulating cultural program, participants will gather to question the conventional approach to Soviet multinationality and disentangle the various trajectories of the nations and groups belonging to the erstwhile Soviet realm.

The summer school will be held at Tallinn University in Estonia from 28 July–4 August 2023. It is designed for Ph.D. students in the Humanities and Social Sciences;  however, motivated MA students and non-degree scholars are also welcome to apply. The working language of the summer school is English. 

At the 2023 Tallinn Summer School, we aim to bring together leading scholars and Ph.D. students of Soviet society and culture to discuss and scrutinize the fundamentals of the field. This time of rapid developments in the region and singular events of potential world-historical significance calls for a broader look at the historical trajectories of the realm that was once imperial Russia. It is time to revisit the big questions in Soviet studies and review the future of the field. We will do so by expanding the focus beyond the confines of the short 20th century and outside the boundaries of today’s Russian Federation. The war with Ukraine has brought Russia’s relationship with its former imperial realm (as well as its own internal minorities) into sharp focus, prompting the scholarly community to examine our prior biases and prejudices. Scholars of Ukraine, the Baltics, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, among many others, have called to reappraise prior historiography’s Russo-centrism and the often-neglected implications of Soviet nationality policies. We will take a critical and nuanced look at Soviet multinationality (including its “Russia”-question) while also examining other continuities in politics and culture across the 1917, 1940, and 1989 revolutionary divides.


The summer school will feature keynote lectures by Joshua Sanborn (Lafayette College), Sofia Dyak (Center for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv), and Juliane Fürst (Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History). 

Other faculty include Zbigniew Wojnowski (Oxford University), Diana T. Kudaibergen (University of Cambridge), Victoria Smolkin (Wesleyan University), Aro Velmet (University of Southern California), Eglė Rindzevičiūtė (Kingston University), Madina Tlostanova (Linköping University), David Beecher (University of Tartu), Mischa Gabowitsch (University of Vienna), and other local and international scholars working on Soviet interethnic relations, heritage and memory studies, environmental history, urban studies, cultural studies, history of science and technology, gender studies, and other related fields. The faculty will run workshops and engage in roundtable discussions, which will include ample time for questions and exchange with students.


Organizing Committee: Epp Annus, Karsten Brüggemann, Linda Kaljundi, Andres Kurg, Uku Lember, Kristo Nurmis

Course Director: Kristo Nurmis


Regular events of the summer school will take place at Tallinn University, MARE building. Address: Uus-Sadama 5, 10120 Tallinn, Estonia.

The summer school aims to address the following questions, among many others:


Contact: kristo [dot] nurmis [at] tlu [dot] ee

Course history

The previous Tallinn Summer School, “Soviet Otherwise: Affects, margins, and imaginaries in the Late Soviet-era,” took place in 2019, gathering fifty graduate students and twenty academics from all over the world. The keynote lectures were delivered by Jonathan Flatley, Anne Gorsuch, and Serguei Oushakine. The first Tallinn Summer School on Soviet everyday life took place in 2015, hosting Catriona Kelly, Juliane Fürst, and Polly Jones.

This summer school is supported by the (European Union) European Regional Development Fund (Tallinn University's ASTRA project, TLÜ TEE, University of Tartu ASTRA project PER ASPERA, Estonian Academy of Arts ASTRA project, EKA LOOVKÄRG and Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre ASTRA project, EMTASTRA).