Ellison Center Lecture Series

REECAS Lecture Series 2021-2022

Scheming and Subversion: Conspiracy in Post-Soviet Space

The Ellison Center’s 2021-2022 Lecture Series

This series presents new research on the role that conspiracy theories, propaganda, and disinformation play in Russia and other post-Soviet states. Nina Jankowicz speaks on her book about the Kremlin’s efforts to undermine democracy abroad through influence operations. Scott Radnitz introduces his new book on why politicians in the post-Soviet region use conspiracy theories. Finally, Eliot Borenstein talks about his work on paranoia in fiction and pop culture in contemporary Russia in an in-person talk on the UW campus. These scholars approach their topics from different angles and deliver important new insights about a persistent phenomenon in the region.

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How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict

Nina Jankowicz, Kennan Institute and Wilson Center Global Fellow

November 8, 2021 at 4:30 pm Pacific Time

Online via Zoom

Nina Jankowicz is an internationally-recognized expert on disinformation and democratization. Her debut book, How to Lose the Information War (Bloomsbury/IBTauris), was named a New  Statesman 2020 book of the year; The New Yorker called it “a persuasive new book on disinformation as a geopolitical strategy.” Her next book, How to Be A Woman Online, an examination of online abuse and disinformation and tips for fighting back, will be published by Bloomsbury in Spring 2022.

Jankowicz’s expertise spans the public, private, and academic sectors. She has advised governments, international organizations, and tech companies; testified before the United States Congress, UK Parliament, and European Parliament; and led accessible, actionable research about the effects of disinformation on women, minorities, democratic activists, and freedom of expression around the world.

Jankowicz has extensive media experience, with writing published in many major American newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. She is a regular guest on major radio and television programs such as the PBS Newshour, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and Amanpour, the BBC World Service, and NPR’s All Things Considered.

Since 2017, Jankowicz has held fellowships at the Wilson Center, where she has been affiliated with the Kennan Institute and the Science and Technology Innovation Program. In 2016-17, she advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on disinformation and strategic communications under the auspices of a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship. Prior to her Fulbright grant, she managed democracy assistance programs to Russia and Belarus at the National Democratic Institute.

Jankowicz holds a Master’s degree from the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is a proud alumna of Bryn Mawr College, where she studied Political Science and Russian and graduated magna cum laude. She is fluent in Russian, and speaks proficient Ukrainian and Polish, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Eurasia Foundation.

Curriculum Guide

This event took place on Nov. 8 — keep scrolling for the next installment in the series!

Revealing Schemes: The Politics of Conspiracy in Russia and the Post-Soviet Region

Scott Radnitz, Associate Professor and Director of the Ellison Center, University of Washington

Moderated by Jacqueline Miller, World Affairs Council of Seattle President and CEO, with Discussant Paul Stronski from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

January 13, 2022 at 4:30 PM Pacific Time

Online via Zoom

Scott Radnitz is the Herbert J. Ellison Associate Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.  His research deals primarily with the post-Soviet region and topics such as protests, authoritarianism, informal networks, and identity. His work employs surveys, focus groups, and experimental methodologies.

His forthcoming book is Enemies Within: The Global Politics of Fifth Columns, edited with Harris Mylonas (GWU), and is under contract with Oxford University Press.

His most recent book Revealing Schemes: The Politics of Conspiracy in Russia and the Post-Soviet Region came out with Oxford University Press in 2021. It investigates why politicians in the region promote conspiratorial claims and what effects that has.

His first book, Weapons of the Wealthy: Predatory Regimes and Elite-Led Protests in Central Asia, was published by Cornell University Press in 2010. Articles have appeared in journals including Comparative PoliticsComparative Political StudiesBritish Journal of Political Science, Journal of DemocracyPolitical  Geography, Political Communication, and Post-Soviet Affairs. Policy commentary has appeared in Foreign PolicyThe National InterestThe Guardian, Slate, and the Monkey Cage/Washington Post blog.

He is an associate editor of Communist and Post-Communist Studies, a faculty member at UW’s Center for an Informed Public, and a member of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security (PONARS) in Eurasia.

He teaches the following courses: States, Markets, and Societies; Contemporary Central Asian Politics; Post-Soviet Security; Interdisciplinary Survey of Eurasia; Failed States; Research Design and Methods; and Social Movements and Revolutions.

This event took place on Jan. 13 — keep scrolling for the next installment in the series!

‘Everybody Hates Russia:’ On the Uses of Conspiracy Theory Under Putin

Eliot Borenstein, Professor of Russian & Slavic Studies and Senior Academic Convenor for the Global Network at New York University

April 7, 2022 at 6:00 pm in Kane Hall Room 225 (Walker Ames Room) at the University of Washington

Dr. Borenstein is the 2022 REECAS Northwest Conference keynote speaker and the Herbert J. Ellison Memorial Lecturer.

This talk will take place in-person only. It is not a webinar, hybrid event, or online event.

This talk is open to the general public as well as conference attendees.

Eliot Borenstein is Professor of Russian & Slavic Studies and Senior Academic Convenor for the Global Network at New York University. He is the author of Men without Women: Masculinity and  Revolution in Russian Fiction, 1917-1929 2001 (AATSEEL book prize), Overkill: Sex and Violence in Contemporary Russian Popular Culture (2008 AWSS book prize), Plots against Russia: Conspiracy and Fantasy after Socialism (2020 Wayne S. Vucinich brook prize and 2020 AATSEEL book prize), and Pussy Riot: Speaking Punk to Power (Bloomsbury, 2020).  He has three books forthcoming: Marvel Comics in the 1970s: The World Inside Your Head (Cornell, 2022),  Meanwhile, in Russia…: Russian Internet Memes and Viral Video (Bloomsbury, 2022), and Soviet-Self-Hatred: The Secret Identities of Postsocialism (Cornell, 2023). He is now writing HBO’s The Leftovers: Mourning and Melancholy on Premium Cable and Unstuck in Time: On the Post-Soviet Uncanny.


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