Episode 63 – Russian Academia and Urban Activism in Times of War: Insights from St. Petersburg

Meet urban scholar Oleg Pachenkov who left Russia few weeks after the invasion of Ukraine. Markus speaks with him about his personal and professional trajectory as a critical scholar bringing him to Berlin. The conversation covers the breakdown of the public sphere in Russia within weeks after the start of the war in Ukraine and Oleg’s personal confrontation with a repressive system ready to crack down on critical voices. Self-censorship, Aesopian language and the retreat to the private sphere are aspects that now characterize dynamics of discussion in the attempt to cope with the authoritarian reality in the country. Olegs talk to us about the institutionalization of Urban Studies and the discrepancy between those parts who have arranged themselves within the regime, and those that didn’t, between those actors who have stayed in the country and those who have fled. We hear Oleg reflect on these divisions and what needs to be learned for the future – for scholars both in Russia as well as beyond.

Episode transcript

Our guest:

Oleg Pachenkov, Dr.

Oleg is a sociologist specialized in urban studies. He received his Doctor degree (Candidate of Science in sociology) at sociology department of St.-Petersburg State University in 2009. Since 2023 he is working as Research fellow at Humboldt University of Berlin in a research group “Urban Futures at Risk” supported by Einstein Foundation and based at Georg Simmel Zentrum for Metropolitan Studies. He is working mainly in the fields of urban studies and interdisciplinary art / social science projects as well as consulting on participatory urban development and participatory budgeting, and organises informal education & training programs for urban activists. 

Previously, he worked for more than two decades as a leading researcher and a project coordinator ate the Center for Independent Social Reserach (CISR) in St.-Petersburg Russia. Starting in 2016 Dr. Pachenkov has also been working as an expert in the projects of CISR e.V. Berlin. From 2012 until 2022, he also led the Center for Applied Research (CeAR) at European University at St.-Petersburg (EUSP), worked as a Project leader and consultant at the Center “UP” for Urbanism and Participation at EUSP (2020-2022).

In 2006, Dr. Pachenkov received prestigious German Chancellor scholarship by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (BUKA) and did a research based at Humbioldt University of Berlin. In 2010 Oleg Pachenkov co-established an interdisciplinary expert & activist platform Open Urban Lab (OUL). Since 2012 he is a chief editor of the series of books titled Studia Urbanica at the NLO Publishing House in Russia. In 2021 he established an interdisciplinary educational program CO-URBANISM based at EUSP.



, ,