“We are working in a reality where finding an approach is extremely difficult. It is not clear whether it’s appropriate to use quantitative or qualitative methods, or maybe even a mix,” explained Tatsiana Chulitskaya, a lecturer of political science at EHU, in outlining the problems facing the field of Belarusian studies.
The roundtable, organized as part of the yearlong Colloquium Vilnense, took place at EHU on May 26. Its aim was to create a forum for discussing new themes and approaches necessary to revitalize Belarusian studies at EHU.
Questions regarding methodology and objects of study were central, as western models are not always applicable for the Belarusian reality that requires developing a special approach.
One of the suggestions that emerged during the roundtable regarded the necessity of interdisciplinary Belarusian studies. Lecturer and EHU Center for Gender Studies board member Olga Sasunkevich proposed “the creation of an interdisciplinary, university-wide class in Belarusian studies that would not be reduced to simply Belarusian history.” Organizing an interdisciplinary group that would include representatives of different departments discussing one problem or using diverse theories for describing a problem from different perspectives would help implement this approach.
During the discussion, participants also brought up the anomalousness of the Belarusian situation. On the one hand, Belarusian studies should develop in the framework of a regional context, because the Belarusian experience is quite similar to the experience of neighbor countries. On the other hand, participants gestured toward the uniqueness and peculiarity of the processes that take place in Belarus. These peculiarities should be taken into consideration as well.
The colloquium “Contextualizing Belarus” was held at EHU as part of the yearlong Colloquium Vilnense. It was organized jointly by Felix Ackermann and Olga Sasunkevich in cooperation with EHU departments and research centers as well as the Vilnius University Faculty of History.
Photo Credit: Viktoryia Zuyonak