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Politics and Development: Central and Eastern Europe




Admissions requirements

Institutions of Governance & Development.


“I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but Russia is not a unique country. It’s interesting that some countries have been able to successfully implement an authoritarian project while others have not… I try to compare the Russian experience with the experience of other countries, whether post-Soviet or not, to understand the general patterns as well as the specifics of particular countries… However, one problem is whether it is even possible to conduct this kind of research in an authoritarian state”, Vladimir Gelman, Professor at Helsinki University and European Institute in Saint-Petersburg, March 2008,

The quote that you have just read is about Russia, yet it has a much wider remit: one needs a cross-regional comparison of how issues like violence, media freedom, power are dealt with in order to comprehensively understand contemporary societies. The course combines insights from comparative politics, sociology, anthropology and area studies to show that the notion of ‘development’ is not only applied to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America but also to those in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Taking a broad geographical scope (CEE and post-Soviet countries) the course explores what exactly ‘development’ meant for the region in the aftermath of the Cold War. Has transition towards democracy and capitalism secured prosperity and rule of law? Are there structural conditions of the region’s underdevelopment in comparison to Western Europe? The key goal of the course is to show how specific issues (violence, identity, patron-client relationship) or actors (state, civil society, oligarchs) have shaped the evolution of the region. Students will consider what ‘development’ means in the East European/post-Soviet context as well as draw comparisons with post-colonial environments (Africa, Latin America, South-East Asia). By bringing insights from a variety of sub-disciplines students will acquire a more nuanced and critical understanding of what ‘development’ actually entails.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate key issues and contradictions associated with development in Central and Eastern Europe / post-Soviet region.

  • Analyze how domestic factors and external influences shape the evolution of Central and Eastern Europe / post-Soviet region.

  • Construct analytical arguments about various facets of development in Central and Eastern Europe /post-Soviet region in different written and oral formats.

  • Be aware of and appreciate the individual human dimension of developmental challenges in Central and eastern Europe/post-Soviet region


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course will be taught through two-hour interactive sessions. They will generally include a short introduction by the instructor after which students will present, debate and critically reflect on the relevant theme and readings. Sessions will focus on concepts, issues and actors as described in detail in the weekly overview below. Students are asked to prepare their own study analyses (as a group or individually) to guide discussions in class


Class participation, 15%
Assignment (Dosier), 15%
Short essays 40% (2 x 20%)
Research essay, 30%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Literature will be provided via Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Alexander Strelkov (


Readings for session 1 have to be done in advance, before the first class.