The Res Publica Project at the European University at Saint Petersburg

Dr. Oleg Kharkhordin Dr. Oleg Kharkhordin,
the project head

The European University at Saint Petersburg was founded in 1994. According to the rating published by the London School of Economics, the EUSP is the only Russian institution of higher learning amongst the top hundred centers for political science in Europe.

The goal of the project is the study and popularization of classical republican theory in Russia. Republicanism is viewed as a viable alternative to liberalism and closely bound up with the theory and practice of local self-government. Classical republic theory identifies the state and its citizens, who do not “transfer” but merely “delegate” their authority to rulers. This theory makes broad use of the history of the medieval city-states of Novgorod and Venice.

Project leader: Oleg Kharkhordin—Rector of the European University at St. Petersburg, Professor, Department of Political Science and Sociology, PhD (University of California, Berkeley).

The research center “Res Publica” was organized in the framework of the project. The center's researchers work on their own research and translations and also organize conferences, seminars, and round tables on the theme of republicanism.

Regular Seminar

Since 2006, the center has conducted a regular seminar in which the latest works in the political theory of republicanism, the history of Russian republicsNovgorod and Pskovand a comparative analysis of their experience with that of foreign city-states, and the theory and practice of self-government are discussed.

During this time, political scientists, sociologists, and historians from Russia, western Europe, and the USA have participated the center’s seminars, including Quentin Skinner (Cambridge University), Bernard Manin (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales), Robert Putnam (Harvard University), Mikhail Ilyin (Moscow State Institute of International Relations), Evgeni Roschin (Juväskylä University), Pierre Rosanvallon (College de France), Vladimir Efimov (University of Geneva), Harry Collins (Cardiff University), and Boris Maslov (University of California, Berkeley).

In a cycle of seminars in 2008–2010, center researchers Viktor Kaplun, Boris Gladarev, Dmitry Kalugin, and Kapitolina Fedorova discussed their collaborative monograph Why Does Russia Have So Much in Common and So Little That Is Public?
Seminar schedule


  • 2008
    A conference—round table on the history of concepts—was held at the European University at St. Petersburg. Conceptual historians from St. Petersburg and Moscow such as Nikolay Koposov, Aleksandr Semyonov (Smolny Institute), Mikhail Khrom (EUSP), Boris Stepanov, and Yuly Asoyan (RSUH) and other scholars participated.
  • 2009
    The center conducted the international conference “Republicanism in theory and practice: 500 years after Agnadello” in connection with the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Agnadello, when Venice, the dominant Italian republic at the time, lost the War of the League of Cambrai.
  • Some historians have argued that after this battle and subsequent events, the Venetian republican experience became known to the whole of Europe, laying the foundations for the continent-wide republican tradition that influenced political thought in Europe for centuries to come.
    Philip Pettit (Princeton University), Edward Muir (Northwestern University), Paul McLean (Rutgers University), Dmitry Kozlov (Irkutsk State University), Oleg Kharkhordin, Mikhail Khrom, Mikhail Sokolov (EUSP), and Sergey Troyanovsky (St. Petersburg Institute of History, RAS) were among the participants.
  • April 2010
    A republican panel entitled “E Pluribus Unum: Res Publica and Community” was held in the framework of the conference “Politics of the One,” jointly organized by the Smolny Institute and the EUSP. In the panel, Oleg Kharkhordin gave the report “How does one constitute the one? Theology of the icon, theory of non-representative art and of non-representative politics”; Viktor Kaplun, “The problem of the public sphere”; and Yves Sintomer (Université Paris 8), “Drawing lots in politics: Unity and totality.”
  • September 2010
    In the framework of the international conference “Novgorodica–2010” the center conducted a round table “Discussions on the Novgorod ’Veche’: An interdisciplinary dialogue.”
    Tatyana Vilkul, Alexei Gippius, Pavel Lukin, Ekaterina Skvairs, Ludwig Steindorff, Eve Levin, Sergey Troyanovsky and other researchers of Novgorod and Pskov, and also famous historians Edward Keenan (Harvard University), Simon Franklin (Cambridge University), Jonas Granberg (Heteborg), and Viktor Zhivov (University of California, Berkeley) participated in the round table.

Details of conferences conducted at the center and with its participation

Summer schools

  • 2006
    Sixteen young teachers and graduate students from St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Tomsk, and Armenia participated in the school.
    They not only discussed republican classics (the works of Cicero, the history of Novgorod up to 1471) but also presented their own researches on the theory and practice of self-government.
  • 2007
    During the summer school, participants tried to think out how the historical experience of republican life in Novgorod and Pskov is related to modern political theory and theory of practice in the example of the classic works of Zerubavel, Hohohan, Pettit, and Aleshkovsky and also in the example of studies by Sophia Chuikina on common things in a modern city, Dilor Ahmedzhanova on HOAs, and Sergey Troyanovsky on the meaning of the Great Bridge for the republican life of medieval Novgorod.
  • 2008
    During the summer school, the participants discussed both the newest investigations of the center’s researchers devoted to republican themes (differentiating “common” and “public”) and a new branch of study, the sociology/anthropology of the rule of law, interest in which grew after the events in the European University in February and March 2008 (suspension of its activities).

Details of the center’s summer schools


  • 2008
    A translation of Bernard Manin’s The Prinicples of Representative Government was published.
  • 2009
    A collection of articles What Is the Republican Tradition based on results of the 2007 summer school and a special issue of the journal Sacred Stock was published.
    A collection of translations of classic texts by German conceptual historians, Res Publica: History of the Concept, was published.
    In 2011 publication is planned
    of a collaborative book with the working title Society in Russia: History and Contemporaneity of the Term and Phenomenon
    and a Russian translation of the fundamental medieval work on the political history of Venice, Casparis Contarini’s De magistratibus et republicâ Venetorum (translated by Mark Yusim, Institute of General History, RAS).

Details of the center’s publications (some are available in electronic form)

The center’s researchers not only engage in scientific activities but also present reports to a wider audience.

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Dmitry Zimin
Dynasty Foundation

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