Few individual or collective actions can occur in total autonomy from institutions. Conversely, institutions, far from presenting themselves to people as clearly defined, definitive objects, are more often magmas of individual and collective actions, which may be conscious and agreed or unintended and conflicting. Team members have made this shared vision the basis of the research programmes. They come from various social science disciplines and are concerned to re-examine social dynamics over a period of four centuries and a region extending from Central and Eastern Europe to Central Asia, including Russia. They have in common a methodological position whose strengths are a bottom-up approach integrating the contributions of case-studies and micro-history and the joint use of a toolkit taken from history, sociology, anthropology and geography. They combine a form of history that is situated and concerned with subjectivities with a macro-social analysis of the regimes and institutional and legal forms adopted by the various states that have successively occupied this geographical area.

This approach involves diversifying investigation techniques (close reading of archives, building databases, interviews and participant observation) and sources (notarial deeds, legal and administrative archives, private and political correspondence, property management archives, surveys, visual sources, etc.). This theme deals with of the strategies, negotiations and capacities for action of groups and individuals, mediated by administrative, legal and normative structures. The aim is to test the hypothesis that the processes traditionally associated with resistance, opposition, autonomy and subversion are actually phenomena of accommodation to, appropriation and incorporation of institutional mentalities.

Team members examine the influence and repercussions of these phenomena on the norms themselves, their interdependence and interpenetration. Given the institutional constraints, often repressive, they analyse the notion of tolerance via practices that reveal normative divergences and the diversity of permissive attitudes: tolerance as a pragmatic surveillance tool, as unprofessionalism because of impotence, as complicity due to corruption, or as a value and practice of accepting otherness. The time span of this theme makes it possible to follow the transmission of social practices in formal, informal and ritual registers.

Legal and economic institutions and practices

The study of legal and economic institutions and practices includes investigation of illegal economic activities, whether property development when land sales were forbidden in the 17th-18th centuries (Anna Joukovskaia), theft of socialist property under Stalin (Juliette Cadiot), or private farming and unregulated trading in Central Asia in the 1960s-1980s (Isabelle Ohayon), and a long-term history of property regimes and forms of land use in Eastern Europe in the 20th century (Marie-Claude Maurel).

Family and sexual practices, gender and moral order

Research into family and sexual practices, gender and representations of moral order comprises surveys of divorce and remarriage in Orthodox Christian society in the 18th century (Anna Joukovskaia); educational careers and strategies in a Russian noble house, the Golitsyns, in the 18th century (Wladimir Berelowitch); the repercussions of the transformation of the socialist family for parenting practices (Peter Hallama); homosexual subjectivities in the late Soviet period on the borderline of other identities, Soviet or national (Arthur Clech); and the recomposition of family ties and gender roles in Georgia after status loss following the collapse of the USSR, via women’s migration trajectories (Maroussia Ferry).


FONCIMED network, Thessaloniki (Marie-Claude Maurel)
Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam (Peter Hallama)
German Historical Institute Moscow, (Wladimir Berelowitch)
Université Paris-Créteil (Arthur Clech)
EHNE centre of research excellence (Peter Hallama)
FMSH (Peter Hallama)
Higher School of Economics, Moscow
Centre d’études franco-russe (CEFR), Moscow
Maison de l’Archéologie et de l’ethnologie, Université de Paris-X Nanterre