Anna Varfolomeeva's reflections on the Doctoral Program (2019)

March 3, 2017

I graduated from the Department of Nationalism Studies at CEU in 2012, and after that worked as a visiting researcher at Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies in Sweden with a project on state policies towards indigenous peoples in Sweden and Russia. While in Sweden, I witnessed Sami protests against the iron ore mine in the north of the country, and this experience sparked my interest in indigenous relations with mining industry.  In 2014, I returned to CEU and entered the PhD program at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy; my PhD project was devoted to articulations of indigenous identity in relation to mining in two Russian regions – Karelia and Buryatia (the case studies of Vepses and Soyots).

 I still remember the first months of PhD life very vividly, and it is hard to believe that two years have passed since then. During these two years, I conducted fieldwork in two regions situated far away from each other – the Republic of Karelia in the North-West of Russia and the Republic of Buryatia in South-Central Siberia, near Mongolia. These two years also brought with them a whole range of academic pleasures such as a visit to world’s largest diamond mine (situated in Mirnyi, Yakutia) with UArctic PhD course on Extractive Industries or a recent trip to Alpine glaciers with Vienna Arctic Summer School. Another great experience was my participation in teaching development project “Strengthening Teaching Effectiveness through Student Evaluation Innovation” led by Dr. Tamara Steger with the help of Center for Teaching and Learning.

One of the benefits of PhD program at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy for me is its multidisciplinary approach: while my research lies within environmental anthropology, it is definitely enriched by the perspectives of other research areas. It is also possible to take courses from other departments, as well as attend various seminars, conferences, lectures held at CEU; here you are never limited by one discipline. The department also offers various ways of cooperation between students and faculty including ACT JUST research group on environmental justice, Environmental Systems Laboratory, Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative. In addition, I am very grateful to CEU Career Services Center which offers Professional Skills Development program for PhD students, as well as to Center for Teaching and Learning: both these units help us to be more prepared to possible challenges and struggles of academic career.