The Challenge of Populist Memory Politics for Europe (MEMOCRACY)

This project investigates the memory laws of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Germany, assessing their compatibility with the democratic standards of the European Union and the Council of Europe. Our aim is to contribute to the debate on democratic memory governance in the transnational European space.

Photo: Private archive of Maria Mälksoo
Photo: Private archive of Maria Mälksoo.

This interdisciplinary project explores CEE memory laws and wars from the perspective of militant democracy and mnemonic constitutionalism. The research consortium will conduct in-depth case studies of the memory laws and policies of Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, and Russia.





Maria Mälksoo’s keynote ’Translation Troubles: Russia’s War on Ukraine and the Lessons of World War II in International Memory Politics’ at the Post/Socialist Memory Cultures in Transition Conference, Tallinn University, Estonia, 20-23 Sept 2023.

Maria Mälksoo and Dovilė Sagatienė participate in the EISA PEC2023, University of Potsdam, Germany, 5-9 Sept 2023.

Maria Mälksoo participates at the Körber History Forum Retreat, Castle Lübbenau, Spreewald, Germany, 5-6 June 2023.

Dovilė Sagatienė presents a paper ‘The Failure of Lithuanian Partisan War (1945-1953) against the USSR as the Nation-Building Factor after 1990’ at the ‘Nationalism, War and Defeat’ conference, University of Copenhagen, 25 May 2023.

Dovilė Sagatienė presents a paper ‘Baltic Regional Memory Wars on the Eve of Russian War in Ukraine’ at the ASN2023 World Convention, Columbia University, New York City, USA, 19 May 2023.

Maria Mälksoo gives an invited talk ’The Postcolonial Moment in Russia’s War against Ukraine’ at the Lund University Peace and International Politics Research Group seminar, 16 May 2023.

Maria Mälksoo gives the first European Foreign Affairs Review Inaugural Lecture ’The EU in the Academy of War’ at the EU in International Affairs (EUIA) 2023 conference in Brussels, 4 May 2023.

Maria Mälksoo participates at the ISA Annual Convention 2023, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, 15-18 March 2023.

Maria Mälksoo gives an invited lecture on memory politics at Brussels School of International Studies, University of Kent, 13 March 2023.

Maria Mälksoo gives an invited talk ’Russia’s War against Ukraine through a Post-Colonial Looking Glass’ at Tallinn University IR Research Seminar, Tallinn, Estonia, 15 Feb 2023.

Maria Mälksoo interviewed on memory politics in the Estonian TV cultural programme Plekktrumm (13 February 2023): 

Maria Mälksoo gives an invited lecture ’War in Ukraine: a postcolonial perspective’ for the PhD seminar on International Relations and Postcolonialism at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Dept of Social Sciences, Pisa and Florence (remotely), 31 Jan 2023.


Maria Mälksoo’s speaking at the webinar dedicated to William Partlett’s book The Post-Soviet as Post-Colonial, 13 December 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s presentation “Denial and Distortion of Historical Crimes in the Baltic Context“ at the MEMOCRACY Warsaw Workshop, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland, 8-9 December 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s invited lecture “The Ouroboros of Secure Memory“ at the CEU Invisible University for Ukraine, 21 November 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s invited contribution “The Baltics and Germany: German historical and geopolitical perspectives on the Baltic Sea area“ to the Körber History Forum and the Baltic Geopolitics Programme Berlin Roundtable, Berlin, Germany, 14 November 2022.

Maria Mälksoo, “Deterrence by Other Means: The International Politics of Domestic Memory Laws“, NORMEMO Autumn 2022 Guest Lecture at the University of Tromsø, Norway, 10 November 2022.

Maria Mälksoo speaking at the roundtable 'The Future of (Using) the Past in International Relations' at the 12th Genealogies of Memory Conference, Warsaw, Poland, 28 October 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s paper “Vicarious Sovereignty: Becoming European the Estonian Way” presented at the IMAGINE project conference ‘Constitutional Imaginaries of Europe’, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 6 October 2022.

Maria Mälksoo keynote talk “The Looking Glass War: Memory and Identity Politics in Russia’s War on Ukraine”, 33rd meeting of the German Peace Psychology Forum, University of Marburg, Germany, 23-24 September 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s paper “Deterrence by Other Means: The International Politics of Domestic Memory Laws” presented at the European International Studies Association’s 15th Pan-European Conference on International Relations (EISA PEC2022), Panteion University, Athens, Greece, 1-4 September 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s interview to the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Russian Language service (Radio Svoboda), 18 August 2022.

Maria Mälksoo serves as an external examiner at Andrii Nekoliak’s PhD defence “‘Memory laws’ and the patterns of collective memory regulation in Poland and Ukraine in 1989-2020: A comparative analysis,” University of Tartu, Estonia, 18 August 2022.

Maria Mälksoo's paper 'Writing Deterrence Differently' in Workshop ZB: 'Writing International Politics: From style and methods to power and poetics', 9th European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS 2022), University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece, 6-9 July 2022.

Maria Mälksoo receives the British International Studies Association 2022 prize for the best article published in the Review of International Studies, 5 July 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s paper “Memory Laws as Deterrence Devices in State Ontological Security-Seeking” in the MEMOCRACY panel “Dismantling Memory Fences: Conceptual Bases, Purposes and Functioning of Memory Laws” at the CEEISA 2022 Convention in Bratislava, Slovakia,22-24June 2022.

Maria Mälksoo convenes two roundtables atthe CEEISA 2022 Convention in Bratislava, Slovakia, 22-24 June 2022:

  • “The Dream is Over? Roundtable on the 1989 class of democracy”
  • “Roundtable on the Future of European Memory”

Maria Mälksoo speaking at the MEMOCRACY roundtable “Ruling on the Basis of Memory in Central and Eastern Europe”, 9th Annual Conference of the Historical Dialogues, Justice & Memory Network “Beyond Nuremberg: The Global Search for Accountability” in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 9 June 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s interview to the Czech cultural weekly Salon Pravá, 9 June 2022.

Maria Mälksoo, invited lecture “Who’s Afraid of Memory Laws? Theorising Deterrence in Memory Politics”, in the Institute of International Relations Prague, Advances in International Studies series of academic talks, Prague, Czech Republic, 26 May 2022.

Maria Mälksoo, invited presentation “Theorising Mnemopolitical Deterrence” at the international symposium Critical Theories of History and Memory, University of Maastricht, Netherlands, 19-20May 2022.

Maria Mälksoo speaking at the CEU Department of International Relations Roundtable Discussion “Memory politics and Russia’s war in Ukraine”, 20 April 2022.

Maria Mälksoo at the Panel Debate “When the Past is Abused to Ruin the Future – Putin’s Historic Distortion of History”, MEMOCRACY Project’s 1st ;Public Event at the University of Cologne, Germany, 8 April 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s paper “The Logic of Ritual Action in International Security and Memory Politics” at the International Studies Association (ISA) 2022 Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 2 April 2022.

Maria Mälksoo at the roundtable “Quo Vadis Historical IR? On the Place and Future of Historical Inquiry in International Relations”, at the International Studies Association (ISA) 2022 Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 31 March 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s talk “Who Wants to be a Buffer Zone? Russia’s War against Ukraine and the East European Agency” at the University of Alberta, Kule Institute for Advanced Study Webinar “Russia’s War Against Ukraine and the World”, 17 March 2022.

Maria Mälksoo’s invited paper “Memory Laws as Deterrence Devices in State Ontological Security-Seeking” at the Workshop on the Politics of Memory, University of Oxford, Lady Margaret Hall, 10 March 2022.

Maria Mälksoo interviewed for the Baltic Ways Podcast, Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, 16 February 2022.


Maria Mälksoo at the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) webinar Memory Wars: Contesting History Thirty Years after the Soviet Collapse, September 30, 2021.








MEMOCRACY Tallinn Workshop, Vabamu, Estonia, 15-16 June 2023.

Warsaw, Polish Academy of Sciences, 8-9 December 2022.

University of Cologne, 8 April 2022.















1. Politics of memory: a conceptual introduction. Mälksoo, Maria, 18 Apr 2023, Handbook on the Politics of Memory. Mälksoo, M. (ed.). Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, p. 1-16.

2. Sagatienė, Dovilė (2022) The Transformation of Lithuanian Memories of Soviet Crimes to Genocide Recognition, The International Journal of Transitional Justice,

3. Mälksoo, Maria (2022) The Postcolonial Moment in Russia’s War Against Ukraine, Journal of Genocide Research (part of Forum: Russia’s War on Ukraine).

4. Mälksoo, Maria, ed. (2023) Handbook on the Politics of Memory. Edward Elgar. 407pp.

5. Mälksoo, Maria (2021) Militant memocracy in International Relations: Mnemonical status anxiety and memory laws in Eastern Europe, Review of International Studies 47(4): 489-507.

6. Mälksoo, Maria (2021) Who’s afraid of memory laws? Introducing ‘militant memocracy’ in International Relations, British International Studies Association, 13 April 2021.

7. Belavusau, Uladzislau, Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias and Maria Mälksoo (2021) Memory Laws and Memory Wars in Poland, Russia and Ukraine, in Jahrbuch des Öffentlichen Rechts. Lepsius, O., Nußberger, A., Schönberger, C., Waldhoff, C. & Walter, C. (eds.). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, vol. 69, pp. 95-116.









1. Mälksoo, Maria (2018) A Baltic Struggle for a “European Memory”: The Militant Mnemopolitics of The Soviet Story, Journal of Genocide Research 20(4): 530-544. Reprinted in The Holocaust/Genocide Template in Eastern Europe (ed. by Ljiljana Radonić), London: Routledge, pp. 48-62.

2. Mälksoo, Maria (2019) The normative threat of subtle subversion: The return of ‘Eastern Europe’ as an ontological insecurity trope, Cambridge Review of International Affairs 32(3): 365-383.

3. Mälksoo, Maria (2018) The Transitional Justice and Foreign Policy Nexus: The Inefficient Causation of State Ontological Security-Seeking, International Studies Review 21(3): 373-397.

4. Mälksoo, Maria (2018) Decommunization in Times of War: Ukraine’s Militant Democracy Problem, Verfassungsblog, 9 January 2018.

5. Mälksoo, Maria (2018) Liminality and the politics of the transitional, Handbook of Political Anthropology (eds. Harald Wydra and Bjørn Thomassen). Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 145-159.

6. Mälksoo, Maria (2017) Kononov v. Latvia as an Ontological Security Struggle over Remembering the Second World War, Law and Memory: Towards Legal Governance of History (eds. Uladzislau Belavusau and Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 91-108.

7. Mälksoo, Maria (2015) In Search of a Modern Mnemonic Narrative of Communism: Russia's Mnemopolitical Mimesis during the Medvedev Presidency, Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society 1 (2): 317-339.

8. Mälksoo, Maria (2015) Mäluseadused ja julgeolek, Vikerkaar 10-11: 120-128.

9. Mälksoo, Maria (2015) ‘Memory must be defended’: Beyond the politics of mnemonical security, Security Dialogue 46(3): 221-237.

10. Mälksoo, Maria (2014), Criminalizing communism: Transnational mnemopolitics in Europe, International Political Sociology 8(1): 82-99.

11. Mälksoo, Maria (2013) Nesting Orientalisms at War: World War II and the 'Memory War' in Eastern Europe, in Orientalism and War (eds. Tarak Barkawi and Keith Stanski). New York: Columbia University Press & London: Hurst, pp. 177-195.

12. Etkind, Alexander, Rory Finnin, Uilleam Blacker, Julie Fedor, Simon Lewis, Maria Mälksoo, Matilda Mroz (2012) Remembering Katyn. Cambridge: Polity Press.

13. Mälksoo, Maria (2010) The Politics of Becoming European: A Study of Polish and Baltic post-Cold War Security Imaginaries. London and New York: Routledge.

14. Mälksoo, Maria (2009) The memory politics of becoming European: the east European subalterns and the collective memory of Europe, European Journal of International Relations 15(4): 653-680.

15. Mälksoo, Maria (2007) The First Lady of the Baltic ‘Memory Offensive’, Diplomaatia 47: 2-3.



coming soon.






Name Title Phone E-mail
Sagatiene, Dovilé Postdoc +4535330344 E-mail

External researchers

Prof. Dr. Angelika Nußberger, M. A.
Universität Köln
Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Institut für osteuropäisches Recht u. Rechtsvergl.

Dr. Aleksandra Gliszczynska-Grabias
Polish Academy of Sciences
Institute of Law Studies
Poznan Human Rights Center

Dr. Uladzislau Belavusau
University of Amsterdam (UvA)
Center for International and European Law
T.M.C. Asser Instituut
The Hague

Funded by:

Volkswagen Stiftung Logo

The Challenge of Populist Memory Politics for Europe (MEMOCRACY) has received a three year funding from Volkswagen Stiftung

Project: The Challenge of Populist Memory Politics for Europe: Towards Effective Responses to Militant Legislation on the Past (MEMOCRACY)
Period: 2021-2024


Senior Researcher Maria Mälksoo
Centre for Military Studies
Department of Political Science
University of Copenhagen
Phone: +45 35 33 11 57