Did you know? 

As our academic year draws to a close, FRINGE would like to share with you highlights from our projects, publication and events. You will find it all here: from our symposium on shame at Chelsea College of Arts (UAL) and the publication of the first book in the FRINGE series (a two-volume ethnography of informal practices) to highlights from our annual workshop, discussing  how 'Russianness' is understood both inside and outside Russia. 

As well as looking back, we will be looking forward towards projects and activities in 2018/2019, where our themes will include truth, performativity, and neutrality. We also continue to explore the potentials of a critical 'Area Studies without Borders', and are pleased to be cooperating with the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies in its major conference on 'Area Studies in Flux' (see below for further details). More whimsically, there is the release of 'no-wave' punk album Roadkill, a teen album starring our very own FRINGE director, Peter Zusi, an upcoming interview with SSEES's new Critical Area Studies lecturer, FRINGEr Michał Murawski, and an invitation to join us in FRINGE work-in-progress groups. 

As ever we would love to hear your thoughts, so get in touch, let us know what you think and whether you are engaged in any FRINGEy activities.  


Events 2017/2018

Crossing the Great Divide

We held four FRINGE events this year, beginning with Crossing the Great Divide? Reassessing East-West Relations During the Cold War and After. This event placed the authors of two recently published books into conversation with one another. The first, 'The Power of Systems' (2016) explored collaboration between the US and Soviet governments during the Cold War via the think tank IIASA. The second  'Russia–EU Relations and the Common Neighborhood' (2018) examines contemporary Russia–EU relations and the sources of their deterioration. The author of both books, Dr. Egle Rindzeviciute and Prof. Irina Busygina, respectively, were joined in discussion by Dr. Jonathan Oldfield and Dr. Poornima Paidipaty to reflect on the hidden variables  through which East-West relations swing towards cooperation or conflict. 

Shame on You

Our second event, Shame on You: Theorising shame, pride and community in contemporary culturewas a collaborative day-long symposium organized with and held at Chelsea College of Art (UAL) The symposium brought together performance artists, psychoanalycists, academics and novelists to discuss shame, sexuality and identity. Talks focused on the experiences of socially marginalised groups, and covered shame/pride movements within LGBTQ communities, shaming of female bodies and the #MeToo movement, and what role class, state and power play when theoretically mapping the internal dynamics of shame. The Symposium was accompanied in an adjoining room by a sound installation of the Shame Chorus by artist and activist Jordan McKenzie. 

Global Encyclopaedia of Informality

Our third event was the international book launch for The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality, the first publication under the FRINGE Series. Coming in two volumes and published by UCL Press (free download available here), this book represents a groundbreaking combination of sociological, anthropological, and  ethnographic analysis. Editor and FRINGE founder, Prof. Alena Ledeneva, worked to source and organise over 200 entries on informal practices across the globe. Our favourite entries include: 

Alga aploksnē (Latvia): an undeclared part of a regular wage
Dash (Nigeria): a gift or a bribe, with the ambiguity being a part of the words function
Benami (India): a transaction, or property made or held under a fictitious name, or that of a third party who holds as ostensible owner for the real owner
Vetterliwirtschaft (Switzerland) is a widespread expression denoting mutual favours or preferential treatment in German-speaking communities in Switzerland

The launch of The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality at UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) kicked off a series of launches of the book across the globe, including launches in Basel, Switzerland, Bloomington, Indiana and University of Belgrade, Serbia (to name a few). Look out for more dates in the global launch. 

Redefining Russian Diaspora 1918-2018

Our final event this year was Redefining Russian Diaspora: National and Transnational Contexts.  This FRINGE annual conference reflected on the contentious notion of 'Russianness.' Starting with the premise that there is no single ‘fundamental’ Russian cultural formation, workshop participants examined the strategies of discursive constructions of Russianness and the Russian identity as enacted through cultural production in the geographically, chronologically and culturally distinct locations (across Russia and diaspora). 

View Programme 


Proposals to the FRINGE series can be sent to FRINGE Director Dr. Peter Zusi, and will be reviewed by the FRINGE Editorial Board. 

Books within the FRINGE series are published by UCL press, and each is made available for free download via the UCL Press website. FRINGE publications are ones that break traditional academic categories: cross-disciplinary, cross-area, cross-cultural topics, we publish on topics that are by their nature complex, elusive or hard to define. There are three publications available for download within the FRINGE series currently, and many more in the pipeline, details below. 

Publications out now

Global Encyclopaedia of Informality Vol. 1

Alena Ledeneva invites you on a voyage of discovery, to explore society’s open secrets, unwritten rules and know-how practices. Broadly defined as ‘ways of getting things done’, these invisible yet powerful informal practices tend to escape articulation in official discourse. Read More

Free download of GEI Vol. 1 available here

Global Encyclopaedia of Informality Vol 2

Expertly practised by insiders but often hidden from outsiders, informal practices are, as this book shows, deeply rooted all over the world, yet underestimated in policy. Entries from the five continents presented in this volume are samples of the truly global and ever-growing collection, made possible by a remarkable collaboration of over 200 scholars across disciplines and area studies.

Free download of GEP Vol. 2 available here 

Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia

What happens to legacies that do not find any continuation? In Estonia, a new generation that does not remember the socialist era and is open to global influences has grown up. As a result, the impact of the Soviet memory in people’s conventional values is losing its effective power, allowing for new opportunities for recuperation. Francisco Martinez brings together a number of sites of interest to explore the vanquishing of the Soviet legacy in Estonia.

Free Download of Remains of the Soviet Past In Estonia 

Upcoming publications 2018/2019

Further titles are currently being reviewed. Submit a proposal

The (City) Centre Cannot Hold?

This volume will explore the aesthetics, politics, economics and affects of urban centrality and monumentality, from their 20th century golden age to their contemporary inheritances, afterlives, ruins and appropriations.
Jonathan Bach and Michal Murawski (Editors)

Socialism, Capitalism, and the Alternatives

There is increasing consensus about the problematic features of capitalism, but there is far less clarity about possible solutions. Articulating coherent alternatives to the entrenched conceptual categories of socialism and capitalism remains stubbornly difficult. This volume will explore how an analysis of political trajectories of post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe and Russia may contribute to confronting this challenge to the global imagination.
Peter J.S. Duncan and Elisabeth Schimpfossl (Editors) 

Comparative Approaches To Informal Housing Around The Globe

This volume will study ambivalence (for instance, illegal housing as undermining and stabilising shortage economies at the same time); address complexity (five configurations of squatting, processes of criminalization and legalisation); and promote interdisciplinary by working with sociologists, historians, political scientists, anthropologists, jurists. 
Udo Grashoff (Editor)

Latest News


In true FRINGEy spirt, FRINGE Director, Dr. Peter Zusi's teenage 'no-wave' punk band - Capital Punishment-  has been picked up by the record label Captured Tracks for release. Interest in the album lay partly in the  fact that Hollywood actor, Ben Stiller was the then drummer. In an interview for the online magazine Noisy (Vice) Peter Zusi writes, "We never played any gigs. Kriss Roebling [lead guitarist] had rented a studio for us to record ourselves in, so we went in and recorded some crazy shit."

Michał Murawski returns to SSEES as Lecturer in Critical Area Studies

FRINGEr Michal Murawski (depicted here as Jesus of Nazerus) will return to SSEES after a brief interlude at Queen Mary's. Michal will teach Critical Area studies, an initiative at the heart of FRINGE and the UCL Institute of Advance Studies. To find out more about what critical area studies is becoming, and why it is receiving so much attention now, we put a few questions to Michal. The interview will be available for download from the FRINGE website soon. 

What is Michal currently working on? Alongside Daria Kravchuk, Michal will be co-curating: A Portal Not Only to Hell, But Also to Paradise: Park Zaryadye, The Sacred Centre of 21st Century Moscow 

Where: Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow.
When: 25th July - 12th August 2018.

Zaryadye Park is a multi-billion rouble Kremlin-abutting prestige project, designed by the architects of Manhattan’s High Line on the ruins of the gargantuan Brezhnev-era Hotel Rossiya. It was opened with great fanfare by Vladimir Putin in September 2017. “A Portal…" is a research-based exhibition, comprised of 15 contemporary Russian artists’ reflections, interrogations and provocations on the theme of Zaryadye Park, and its relationship to the aesthetic, political and economic new order of late-Putinist Moscow. The exhibition emerges from “Zaryadyology", a collaborative research project, carried out by anthropologist of architecture Michal Murawski together with students and staff at the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism in Moscow. The artists selected to take part in the project have chosen the focus and titles of their works themselves, but they were asked to respond to the work-in-progress results of the Zaryadyological research process: to incorporate their interpretations of the ethnographic material presented into the conceptual and tangible substance of the Zaryadyological hells and heavens, which they have created

Save the date

Upcoming events 2018/2019

Area Studies in Flux
28-29 Sept 2018, 9:00-19:30, UCL, IAS 
This conference and workshop is convened by the IAS and SSEES in collaboration with PKU, Beijing, and is designed to go beyond Euro/US-centrism to explore ‘area’ from diverse vantage points and emplaced disciplinary traditions. 
Register for the conference 
Register for the workshop 
Protest, Performativity, Post-Truth
14 November 2018, time and location, tbc
Political protest has traditionally aimed at persuading of the truth of its message—but what happens when performativity itself has displaced any notion of truth? This symposium will address this question through consideration of the history of protest as performance.
Other planned events
* On Neutrality (2019 Annual International Conference) 
* FRINGE Series Book launch: The (City) Centre Cannot Hold? 

FRINGE community

Work-in-Progress Discussion Group 
Starting in October 2018 we will begin regular work-in-progress discussion groups to present in a relaxed and informal atmosphere current work by colleagues or of shared interest. All FRINGErs and Friends of Fringe are welcome! Meetings will be hosted at the IAS by FRINGE Director, Peter Zusi. Sign up to participate here
Pitch an idea
We offer small bursaries towards events that are of FRINGEy interest (£200-1000). If you have an idea that you think fits perfectly within the FRINGE remit, and you would like help to fund and publicise it, let us know.
Student Volunteers
We are always looking for volunteers to help with our events, publicity, marketing and social media. Voluntary roles range from ad hoc roles (helping once with a particular event) to more long-term roles (e.g., 1hr a week). Let us know if you can help.
Student FRINGE 
To the student contingent of the FRINGE team: we are offering more resources for students (from BA to PhD) to put on FRINGE style events and to create  work-in-progress groups. Join Student FRINGE to keep up-to-date with student led events and opportunities! 

FRINGE partners

UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies

FRINGE work closely with the Institute of Advanced Studies at UCL, and are delighted to announce that Tamar Garb (director of the IAS and professor of Art History) has agreed to join our Editorial Board. Learn more about UCL's Institute of Advanced studies 

UCL's School of Slavic and East European Studies 

Founded at UCL's School of Slavonic and East European Studies, we continue to engage in a range of joint projects, including the appointment of a Lecturer in Critical Areal Studies. Learn more about SSEES wider projects. 

Our favourite snaps 

Global Encyclopaedia of Informality (Basel Launch)

Shame on You

Redefining Russian Diaspora 1918-2018

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