Dr Nelly Bekus

Associate Research Fellow


01392 726449

I am currently an Associate Research Fellow working on the project “1989 after 1989: The Fall of State-Socialism in a Global Perspective.” This collaborative research project, lead by Professor James Mark, is funded by the Leverhulme Trust through a Research Leadership Award.

My research interests lay in the after-life of the socialist legacy in post-Soviet capital cities, Minsk and Astana.  

I am interested in studying the capital cities' symbolic landscapes as an imaginary environment of political elites in the context of broader theoretical debates about the global role of strong states in shaping urban space during periods of modernization in Middle East, China, Latin America. This project explores the fate of second world urbanity in new political and social settings and makes important interventions into debates over changing patterns of urban development after the fall of state socialism.

I recently co-organized with Julie Buckler (Harvard University) the seminar "Contested Memory Sites in Post-Socialist Capitals" within the framework of the ACLA Annual Meeting (New York University). 

Research interests

My research interests include the state-and nation-building under socialism and post-socialism, the religious and the ethno-linguistic landscape in post-Soviet nations and the role of cityscapes in the construction of post-socialist identity.  My current research project explores the ways in which the systemic transformation of former Soviet Republics has been reflected in the urban development of their capital cities and how socialist urban habitus has been adapted to changed political and social settings since the fall of socialism. It aims to connect macro- and micro-processes, examining how aspects of post-socialist transformation globally impact upon the urban landscape, how post-Soviet national elites rework socialist legacies in the production of nationalized urban spaces, and how these shifts influence the practices and lived experience of city-dwellers. The project is planned as a cross-disciplinary study, combining sociological and anthropological approaches to the study of changing and/or lasting socialist patterns of relations between state and space. Whilst aiming to develop broader approaches to the post-socialist city, my own focus will be on the cases of Minsk (Belarus) and Astana (Kazakhstan).


I completed my PhD in Sociology at the Graduate School for Social Research, at the Polish Academy of Sciences and I worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Warsaw (2008-2012). I have received several research fellowships at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna (2003), the Remarque Institute, NYU (2007), and, most recently, a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University (2012-13).

I joined the History Department at the University of Exeter in January 2014.