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Politics and Development: Central and Eastern Europe




Admissions requirements

Institutions of Governance and 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 the 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


  • Connect key topics within development research to the specific context of Central and Eastern Europe (broadly defined)

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


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

  • Evaluate contradictions associated with development 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. Students are asked to prepare their own study analyses (as a group or individually) to guide discussions in class


Class participation, 15%, all weeks
Individual presentations, 15%, all weeks
Short essays, 40% (2 x 20% each), weeks 3 and 6
Research essay (take home examination), 30%, week 8


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

In cases when compulsory literature is not available in the library, it will be provided by the course instructor

The list below does not include compulsory course readings but indicates materials that can be of use to those who participate in the course:

  • MAXCAP ( / - research project on the impact of EU enlargement

  • EUSTRAT( - research project on EU policies in the post-Soviet region

  • - one of the major conferences of interest to those studying Eastern Europe and Eurasia, broadly speaking

  • - analytical sources and policy papers on a range of Central and East European countries (in German and English)

  • O Beachain D., Sheridan V., Stan S. (2012). Life in post-communist Europe after membership: happy ever after? Abingdon: Routledge

  • Hale H. (2015). Patronal politics: Eurasian regime dynamics in comparative perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

  • Fagan A., Kopecky P. (eds). (2018).Routledge Handbook of East European Politics. L.: Routledge

  • Wolchik S., Letwich Curry J. (eds) (2015). Central and East European Politics. From communism to democracy. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield (third edition)

  • Dallago B., Rosefielde S. (2016). Transformation and crisis in Central and Eastern Europe: challenges and prospects. L.: Routledge


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


Dr.Alexander Strelkov


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