The research project “Making Spaces of Justice Across the East-West Divide” arises as a response to two troubling tendencies.
First, new political and social divisions are emerging in Europe. The relations between Russia and the EU have been rapidly deteriorating and are perhaps more strained than ever after the end of the Cold War. This has resulted in a serious downturn in the grassroots-level dialogue between Russian and Finnish scholars and civil society actors.
The current political tensions and the resurrection of the East-West confrontation underline, however, the pressing need to create and sustain spaces of dialogue and collaboration across the East-West divide. There is a danger that the old-age enemy imageries are activated and the discussion of political challenges shared by both Finnish and Russian societies become yet another platform for the reproduction of reified national differences and myths.
Second, the conditions of academic knowledge production have also been under profound pressures over the past decade and the role of universities has been intensively debated.
The ‘third mission’ of universities has tended to emphasize ‘policy relevance’ from the perspective of economic life and governmental planning, rather than societally engaged science in the service of civil society.
Researchers, artists and activists are often working on same burning social issues, yet there is too little dialogue and interaction between these actors and fields. Consequently, knowledge produced in these spheres remains regrettably disconnected.
We consider this lack of cross-cultural and cross-sectoral dialogue problematic. The aim of this project is to go against the grain of this situation in two ways. This project intends to
- develop collaboration across Finnish-Russian border to work together on and find solutions to a set of vexing social issues shared by both societies and in this way to counter the trends of hostility and isolation.
- develop collaboration across the borders between art and academia to produce knowledge together and initiate new forms of collaboration between these fields.