March 8, 2024 Panel
Vox-Pop Amsterdam

Eastsplainers #10: Academia

Get ready for the March programme of Eastsplainers! In this final edition of Eastsplainers we devote our attention to academia and the knowledge production in Central and Eastern Europe, and in Ukraine in particular.


For this session, we welcome Olga Burlyuk and Oleksandra Ivashchenko. Oleksandra Ivashchenko, a senior medical physicist, is a board member of Science for Ukraine, a non-governmental organization dedicated to supporting the Ukrainian academic community amidst Russia’s ongoing war. The NGO is run by volunteer researchers and students from academic institutions all around the world. Olga Burlyuk, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam, focuses on civil society in Ukraine and politics of knowledge production about the country in the context of the military conflict. Together, the two speakers will discuss the challenges that the (Ukrainian) academic community faces in maintaining internal connections, securing research possibilities and access to the field, while having to deal with the heavy toll of the war. The session will be moderated by Erica van der Sijpt, a medical anthropologist at the University of Amsterdam.  

For our tenth edition of the Eastsplainers public programme series, we invite everyone to join us for a drink after the Q&A in VOX-POP. 

Register here


Olga Burlyuk

Olga Burlyuk is an Assistant Professor of Europe’s external relations at the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam and affiliate of the Amsterdam Center for European Studies. Prior to joining the University of Amsterdam, Olga was affiliated with the University of Kent, Ghent University, the College of Europe, and Harvard University. Her work is rooted in IR and European studies, but also within development, legal, cultural policy and area studies – focusing on Ukraine, Eastern Europe and post-Soviet states. Together with Ladan Rahbari, she published the edited volume “Migrant Academics’ Narratives of Precarity and Resilience in Europe” (Open Book Publishers, 2023). Together with Vjosa Musliu, she edited a special forum “Responsibility to remain silent? On the politics of knowledge production, expertise and (self-)reflection in the debate on Russia’s war against Ukraine” (Journal of International Relations and Development).

Oleksandra Ivashchenko

Oleksandra (Sasha) Ivashchenko is a senior medical physicist at the nuclear medicine department of the University Medical Center Groningen. After obtaining her MSc in applied physics in Ukraine, she moved to the Netherlands to pursue her PhD at ITN Trace’nTreat, based at TU Delft. Subsequently, Sasha worked at various academic medical centers within and outside of the Netherlands, increasingly moving towards medical imaging research. She is currently the editor-in-chief of the MCAA Newsletter, assisting editor of the Radiology AI, and holds a board seat at several professional and humanitarian NGOs, including European Federation of Organizations for Medical Physics and Science For Ukraine.

Erica van der Sijpt

Erica van der Sijpt will be the moderator of this edition of Eastsplainers. She works as a medical anthropologist at the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests focus on reproductive health. Erica has studied the ways in which people navigate the uncertainties arising around reproductive losses like miscarriages, stillbirths, abortions, child deaths and infertility, focusing on cases in Cameroon (for her Ph.D project) and in Romania (for her post-doctoral project). Her findings have been presented in a number of articles, published in high-ranking journals, and in the monograph titled “Wasted Wombs. Navigating Reproductive Interruptions in Cameroon” (Vanderbilt University Press, 2018). Erica also teaches courses on (medical) anthropology, reproductive health practices in Eastern Europe, and qualitative research methods at the University of Amsterdam and at various medical institutes in the Netherlands.


As the Russian war in Ukraine and imperialist Kremlin rhetoric continues to disturb world media, Eastsplainers offers a counterweight to ‘westsplaining’ – the habit of looking at developments in Central and Eastern Europe through Western lenses. In this series of public programmes, we listen to intellectuals and artists who fled from the Russian war in Ukraine or who fled or migrated from Łódź, Minsk, and Moscow, among other places, to the Netherlands.