- Jevgenia Milne
- Tallinn University, Estonia (January to July 2011)
- Edinburgh UK
Institute of International and Social Studies, Tallinn University.
My research interests cover a wide range of topics related to culture and identity in international politics and wider social sciences, and are informed by post-structuralist, semiotic, and social constructivist treatments of these issues. I am particularly interested in the problems of constitution of knowledge and social reality, cultural continuity and change, articulation and maintenance of identity, as well as the role of textual and material practices in ‘ordering’ the alterity and heterogeneity of lived reality.
These interests have directed my recent enquiries into the uses of ethnography in conflict and peace research, as well as my earlier research on the nature of power and violence in contemporary violent conflicts and in peacebuilding practices designed to address them; on the changing standards of acceptable international practice, such as the shift from ‘sovereignty’ to ‘democracy’ as the basis of legitimacy and inclusion in the liberal politics of peace (and war); the shifting security agendas in the post-Cold War period, at both theoretical and policy levels; and semiotic underpinnings of International Relations concepts and phenomena, such as the ‘symbolic’ aspects of terrorism (e.g. as reflected in the generation of the terrorist ‘message’, ritual character of terrorist attacks and its relation to ideology, etc.), or processes of border-drawing and border-crossing (referring both to empirical practices and geographical perceptions, and to epistemological ‘delineation’ and ‘contraband’).
My recent doctoral research explored the relationship between culture and violent conflict, with a special reference to the interplay of local dynamics of violence and peace on the one hand, and external peacebuilding efforts, on the other. In my doctorate thesis, I critically examined the transformation potential of the dominant peacebuilding practice towards greater cultural sensitivity, and looked at the implications of applying cultural vocabulary to the analysis of conflict and peace. In identifying the ‘cultural’ aspects of conflict and peace at different levels, I engaged with a range of literatures originating in International Relations (IR), political science, sociological, anthropological and semiotic thinking about culture, seeking to connect their diverse insights with the problematic of violence and power. The resulting theoretical framework conceptualises culture in terms of generation and organisation of meaning – a process that is ultimately recursive and extends to the conceptualisations of culture itself, so that ‘culture’ cannot be approached as an analytically stable concept, since it ‘embeds’ the researcher in the intricacies of meaning-production. This framework was then applied in the analysis of the practices of liberal peacebuilding as a particular ‘culture,’ as well as to the analysis of the interplay between external, top-down and local, bottom-up impetuses for peace (and conflict) in the case of Sierra Leone.
Viktorova Milne, Jevgenia, ‘Method: Theory and Ethnography in Peace and Conflict Studies,’ pp. 74-98 in Oliver P. Richmond (ed.), Palgrave Advances in Peacebuilding: Critical Developments and Approaches, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Viktorova, Jevgenia, ‘The Promise of Ethnography? Capturing the “local” in violent conflict and peacebuilding,’ CPCS Papers in Peace and Conflict Studies, St Andrews: Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of St Andrews, April 2008, available at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/media/the%20promise%20of%20ethnography.pdf.
Viktorova, Jevgenia, ‘Conflict Transformation the Estonian Way: The Estonian-Russian Border Conflict, European Integration and Shifts in Discursive Representation of the “Other”,’ Perspectives: The Central European Review of International Affairs, 27: 44-66 (Winter 2006/2007).
Viktorova, Jevgenia, ‘Transformation or Escalation? The Estonian-Russian Border Conflict and European Integration,’ working paper No. 21, Working Paper Series in EU Border Conflicts Studies, Birmingham: Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham, 2006.
Viktorova, Jevgenia, ‘From ESDI to ESDP and Beyond: The Case of Estonia,’ pp. 66-78 in Janusz Bugajski and Blagovest Tashev (eds.), Early Warning and Policy Perspectives in the Trans-Atlantic Security Agenda: Central and East European Point of View, The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria/German Marshall Fund, Sofia, 2005.
Viktorova, Jevgenia, and Leonid Ryabikhin, ‘Weapons Transfers as a Soft Security Issue in Eastern Europe: Legal and Illicit Aspects,’ European Security, 13(1-2): 73-93, 2003, and pp. 73-94 in Anne Aldis and Graeme P. Herd (eds.) Soft Security Threats and European Security, London and New York: Routledge, 2005.
Viktorova, Jevgenia, ‘Identity and Alterity: An Apologia for Boundaries,’ pp. 141-60 in Henk van Houtum and Eiki Berg (eds.) Routing Borders between Territories, Discourses and Practices, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003.
Viktorova, Jevgenia, and Elena Nikiforova, ‘Shifting Borders within the Contested Borderland,’ pp. 65-95 in Eiki Berg (ed.) Negotiating Borders of Multiple Meanings, Tartu: Tartu University Press, 2001.
Viktorova, Jevgenia, and Pertti Joenniemi (eds.), Regional Dimensions of Security in Border Areas of Northern and Eastern Europe, Tartu: Tartu University Press, 2001.
Viktorova, Jevgenia, ‘Building a Common Security Space? – The Case of the Estonian-Russian Border Area’, Academic Centre for Baltic and Russian Studies, 2001; available at http://www.ut.ee/ABVKeskus.