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Viadrina Institute for European Studies (IFES)


The project aims to discuss and incrementally develop a new, comprehensive concept of Europeanization. Our ambition augments the research agenda of European University Viadrina and, specifically, of the Faculty of Cultural and Social Sciences, which fosters interdisciplinary discourse as the driver of scientific innovation. We intend to reframe current understandings of “Europeanization”, still dominated by teleological and linear thinking, so as to better incorporate its historic, institutional, and symbolic connotations.

Our perspective arises through the linkage of Europeanization to the concepts of modernity and modernization. While ambivalences – inherently contradictory consequences of both intentional and emergent processes – form a crucial aspect of modernization research, there has been no systematic reflection on the ambivalences of Europeanization. Our understanding of Europeanization highlights the simultaneity of ambivalences which we consider to be triggers for historically contingent processes of Europeanization since the 18th century. We argue that inasmuch as modernity is ambivalent in its core, so is Europeanization.

The collected volume "Ambivalenzen der Europäisierung. Beiträge zur Neukonzeptionalisierung der Geschichte und Gegenwart Europas" that was edited by Timm Beichelt, Clara Frysztacka, Claudia Weber and Susann Worschech, was published in 2020 by Franz Steiner Verlag.

Researchers: Timm Beichelt, Clara Frysztacka, Claudia Weber, Susann Worschech

The ‘Peripheries group’ at IFES investigates dynamics and examples of periphery-building in the European context. Peripheries are understood as one end in a spatially connoted social constellation that is characterized by exchange, dependency and difference (Koch 2011). The group members look at the emergence of such constellations in Central Eastern and Southern Europe applying different disciplinary perspectives and traditions of thought. They take a particular interest in the construction and subversion of peripheral subjects and seek to extend this perspective, usually applied to the postcolonial global South, to the intra-European context. Currently, the following researchers form part of the group: 

Dr. des. Clara Frysztacka who studies 19th century Poland as a semi-periphery and looks at colonial phantasies at that time.

• Dr. Anja Hennig who examines the contestation of the normative centre of liberal values by illiberal political actors, drawing on the example of gender equality.

• Dr. Amelie Kutter who investigates the construction of new asymmetries in the European Union since the financial crisis in her Marie-Curie project Reconfigurations of centre and periphery in the European Union.

• Dr. Paweł Lewicki who focusses on the distinction among Eurocrats coming from new and old EU member states.

• Jennifer Ramme who looks into feminist counter discourses in contemporary Poland and the self-peripherialisation implied in narratives about Polish feminism.

• Dr. Jutta Wimmler who, in her project The Globalized Periphery: Atlantic Commerce, Socioeconomic and Cultural Change in Central Europe (1680-1850), challenges the supposed peripheral role of Central Europe in early modern Atlantic trade and looks into how this role has been reproduced in historiography.

Events organised by members of the group were the international workshop European peripheries: transdisciplinary perspectives on Nov 30th - Dec 2nd, 2017, which is hosted by Amelie Kutter’s project Reconfigurations of centre and periphery in the European Union, and the conference Globalized Peripheries. New approaches to the Atlantic world, 1680-1850 on July 5th-7th, 2017, which concluded the project The Globalized Periphery: Atlantic Commerce, Socioeconomic and Cultural Change in Central Europe (1680-1850) directed by Prof Klaus Weber and Dr Jutta Wimmler.

Speaker/contact: Dr. Amelie Kutter, kutter[at]

Ukraine remains a main focus of the IFES research and activities.

The narratives that confront ‘Russia vs. the West’ have been an important topos of European intellectual history. While this juxtaposition was largely based on assumed civilizational differences in the ninetieth century, the rupture today seems to manifest itself mainly in political-institutional spheres, where democracy and autocracy confront with each other. At the same time, in the context of increasing transmigration and globalisation there are extensive economic and social entanglements which lead to rather ‘soft’ borders between the two regions. Border regions become zones of transition and thereby spaces where conflicts and opposed interests may become more virulent than elsewhere. An important example, albeit by far not the only one, constitutes Ukraine since its independence.

The summer school Viadrinicum, a third-party project for conflict mediation at borders as well as a number of other activities, offer platforms for the observation and analysis of these developments. Furthermore, students of the Viadrina University and members of the IFES undertake regular excursions to Ukraine since 2014, which are accompanied by the blog Viadrina goes Ukraine and have a specific thematic focus every time.

Under the overall title “Social Disappearances in Europe” a series of activities coordinated by Dr. Estela Schindel have taken place since 2017. This research focus aims at shedding light on forms of social disappearance that are currently emerging in Europe. The point of the departure is the existence of pockets of social devastation that proliferate parallel and often under the surface of European wealth. These new exclusionary dynamics are often underrepresented in official or academic records and thus pose a challenge both for researchers and policy makers. Cases like undocumented, invisibilized, clandestine, or trafficked populations are difficult to map and demand new conceptual tools to be fully grasped. We aim to explore whether this can be served by the category of social disappearance. This research focus shall contribute to the literature in the interdisciplinary field of European studies, bridging Southern and Eastern European perspectives. 

A first assessment of the uses of the category took place with the explorative Workshop “Social Disappearance: Explorations Around a Travelling Concept from Latin America to Eastern Europe” that took place at the Forum Transregional Studies on February 7 & 8 2019. The inquiry will continue in the frame of the panel “Social Disappearance in Europe.  Exploring the uses of a trans-nationalized category beyond citizenship and sovereignty” to be held by Gabriel Gatti and Estela Schindel at the next Conference of the Council of European Studies in Madrid (20-22 June 2019), as well as through a series of publications.

The volume "Social Disappearance. Explorations Between Latin America and Eastern Europe" (Forum Transregionale Studien), edited by Estela Schindel and Gabriel Gatti, was published in 2020. The articles collected are based on the explorative workshop that took place in February 2019. The volume is available as an open access publication at, the publication platform of the Max Weber Foundation.

Researchers: Estela Schindel, Paweł Lewicki.

Cooperation partner: Project Disappearances. A transnational perspective study of a category to manage, inhabit and analyze social catastrophe and loss, University of the Basque Country (supported by the Spanish Ministry for Culture and Education MINECO, CSO 2015-66318-P), PI: Gabriel Gatti.  Forum Transregional Studies.