Emptiness

Maria Gunko

Maria will be starting her DPhil in Migration Studies at the University of Oxford in October 2021. She holds a Hill Foundation Scholarship and her doctoral research and fieldwork will be part of this ERC-funded EMPTINESS project.

Maria obtained an MSc in Human Geography from the Moscow Lomonosov State University in 2012 and a Russian postgraduate degree, Candidate of Sciences in Human Geography, from the Institute of Geography Russian Academy of Sciences in 2015. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig (Germany) in 2015, working on the ira.urban project Urban Reconfigurations in Post-Soviet Space funded by the Leibniz Association. Furthermore, her Visiting Fellowship at the Institute of Geography Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (France) in 2019 was supported by the “Bourses Metchnikov” Embassy of France in Moscow’s short-term academic mobility grant.

Maria’s research interests include urban geography and planning studies with a focus on Eastern Europe. Her recent work is devoted to the analysis of governance, planning, and place-making in Russian small- and medium-sized shrinking cities. The results of these studies were published in three journal articles and lay the foundation for an edited volume Shrinking Cities in Postsocialist Countries (eds. Wu, C-T, Gunko, M, Stryjakiewicz, T, and Zhou, K) to be published by Routledge in 2021-22.

Within the EMPTINESS project, Maria will be exploring power and authority in an emptying town – the strategies, tactics, and rationalities of how such places are governed both through formal institutions and political bodies, as well as through informal arrangements. Her fieldwork will focus on a small town in Central Russia which has undergone remarkable depopulation and de-densification of human activity since the collapse of state socialism.

Collaborate with us

If you would like to find out more about the project or contribute a blog on a resonant aspect of your own research to the Field Reports section of our website, please get in touch by writing to emptiness@anthro.ox.ac.uk.