The Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) is an independent, international, publicly funded research institute. It focuses on foundational and socially relevant academic research on Eastern Europe and shares the results with policymakers, the media, and the broader public.
Eastern Europe is in a state of flux. The importance of dedicated regional research undertaken in long-term projects for providing the necessary profound knowledge is clearer today than ever before. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine underscores the value of our nuanced view of a region that defies common assumptions and ascriptions. A comprehensive and multi- or interdisciplinary approach is needed to capture and convey the diversity and dynamics of the region, including its entanglements.
Russia’s war on Ukraine is a watershed that presents major challenges not only to political actors worldwide but also to researchers. Data collection has become difficult or impossible in some cases, and cooperations have been terminated, adapted or newly established. As yet, we can only guess at the dimensions of the consequences of the war. Only high-quality regional research across a wide range of academic disciplines can rise to these challenges and provide crucial impetus for research, politics and public discourse.
As an independent institute, ZOiS sets its own research agenda. The topics chosen for its initial research priorities and projects reflected its aim of exploring and awakening interest in various aspects of Eastern Europe, with topical relevance and background analysis carrying equal weight here. However, we also think it is important to show that Eastern Europe is not confined to the eastern part of our continent but is present in diverse forms in this country too. With that in mind, one of the projects investigates the realities of Eastern European migrants in Germany.
The development of our five research clusters at ZOiS is well under way. Our researchers' individual projects fall within five main topic areas: Societies between Stability and Change; Conflict Dynamics and Border Regions; Migration and Diversity; Youth and Generational Change; and Political Economy and Integration. 'East Europe' is defined in broad terms and encompasses the post-Soviet space as well as Eastern and Central Europe. Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, the South Caucasus and Central Asia are currently the main focal points of our research, where we have strong regional expertise.
Detailed analysis of the complex developments taking place in Eastern Europe is only possible with a multi-perspective approach. ZOiS researchers therefore come from a range of disciplines, including political science, sociology, social anthropology, economic and social geography, political economy, theology and cultural studies.
Detailed in-country studies are a key element of the basic research conducted at ZOiS. We combine qualitative and quantitative methods, use interviews, surveys and textual analysis, and adopt innovative methods in our fieldwork, for example by engaging with artistic research.
However, ZOiS’s work does not begin and end with research. Our aim is to contribute to and inform public debate and current discourses and offer new perspectives on – and from – Eastern Europe. ZOiS researchers regularly share their findings with policymakers, the media and an interested public, using a variety of events and publication formats for this purpose. Research on Eastern Europe relies on new perspectives and a willingness to engage with unconventional topics. Supporting young academics is also a priority for ZOiS here.
For ZOiS, Eastern Europe is more than just a subject of research. We actively engage with the research being produced in the region itself and collaborate with Eastern European and international scholars on publications and events, for example.
And lastly, ZOiS sees itself as a place for networking and exchange for universities, research institutes, think tanks, foundations and other organisations with a connection to Eastern Europe.
ZOiS gGmbH and Foundation
ZOiS was established by a decision of the German parliament, and is financed by the German Foreign Ministry. The Centre’s academic independence is guaranteed by its organisational structure, which is that of a non-profit enterprise under German law (gGmbH). A Foundation functions as the shareholder of the gGmbH. The Board of the Foundation is made up of representatives of academia, parliament and ministries. An international Academic Advisory Board strengthens our research profile.