During the first two weeks of June, History at the University of Gloucestershire played host to Dr Pia Koivunen, a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Advanced Social Research, University of Tampere, Finland. Dr Koivunen has published widely on different aspects of the Soviet-sponsored World Youth Festivals, one of which was held in Moscow in 1957. She has contributed two chapters on this topic in different books edited by Melanie Ilic. Her next project is an investigation of Russia’s use of ‘soft power’ in global mega events, such as World Fairs, Expos and the Olympic Games. This project will start by examining the late Tsarist period and will extend through the Soviet period into post-Soviet Russia.
During her visit to UG, Melanie and Pia made a short ‘in conversation’ video, which can be seen here. Pia also had the opportunity to chat informally with staff and students and to attend Staff Awards 2016. Here is her report:
I have just completed a two-week period as a Visiting Researcher in History at the University of Gloucestershire. The main aim of my visit was to discuss my current book project and future research plans with Professor Melanie Ilic. The book in process explores the oral histories of young Finns who travelled to Eastern Europe during the years of the early Cold War. Conversations with and numerous pieces of fruitful advice given by Professor Ilic, one of the leading experts in the field of oral history in the Soviet context, considerably helped me to shape and improve my project. We also discussed potential future research collaboration in terms of our shared interests in cultural exchange and transnational networks in relation to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Although this was only a very short visit, it turned out to be a fruitful experience in many ways. First, it gave me a chance to focus solely on discussing and writing one single project at a time, free from other day-to-day commitments. Second, it was refreshing and useful to work outside of my own usual research environment. Working in a new place not only means meeting new people and widening your network, it can also enable you to think differently and to break away from daily routines. The University of Gloucestershire provided an excellent research base and environment for a visiting scholar with its friendly staff, welcoming atmosphere and a beautiful campus at FCH.