Introducing: Matthew Frear
In September 2013 I moved to Leiden from the UK to take up the position of Assistant Professor covering politics and international relations on the BA Russian Studies and International Studies programmes and the MA Russian and Eurasian Studies.
Before that I was based in Birmingham where I taught for two years on the politics and international relations of Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe at both the University of Birmingham and Aston University. I successfully defended my PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2011, having carried out my doctoral research on the contemporary political landscape in Belarus in the Centre for Russian and East European Studies. During my research I travelled widely in Belarus, conducted a number of interviews there including several former presidential candidates, and also completed a language course in Belarusian at Minsk State Linguistic University. I am now under contract to convert my PhD into a book to be published by Routledge in 2014.
I have lived, worked or studied in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus for a total of about five years. My travels over the past two decades since I first started learning the Russian language as an undergraduate student at the University of Bradford have taken me from Kamyanets-Podilsky to Ulan-Ude and include 10 of the 15 former republics of the USSR! My experiences in the region include working for the British Council in Moscow and Kyiv, managing projects and promoting British education, as well as being a short-term election observer for the OSCE/ODIHR in Belarus and Ukraine. I have been invited to share my expertise with the policy community, and have regularly provided briefings on Belarus for analysts and diplomats at the UK’s Foreign Office.
I am interested in continuing my research on modern non-democratic regimes, building on my knowledge of Belarus to identify similarities and differences with consolidated authoritarian systems elsewhere in the region and the world. A further area of interest is the competing external influences of European and Eurasian integration projects in the so-called shared neighbourhood and the foreign policy responses to this of countries such as Ukraine and Belarus.
I am looking forward to discovering the Netherlands as my new home, as well as exploring the new opportunities which teaching in Leiden and The Hague will provide!