Emptiness: Living Capitalism and Democracy After (Post)Socialism Sept 2020 – Aug 2025


The project studies the emptying cities, towns, and villages in Eastern Europe and Russia through the lens of “emptiness” as a concrete historical formation that has emerged in conditions when socialist modernity is gone and promises of capitalist modernity have failed. More specifically, it: (1), studies the experiences and narratives of emptiness and emptying; (2), examines the politics and governance of emptying and emptiness; and (3), uses post-socialist “emptying” and “emptiness” as lenses for analysing global reconfigurations of relations between capital, the state, people, and place at a time when capital flows and statecraft are increasingly concentrated in “global cities,” with the rest of urban and non-urban spaces becoming radically disconnected.

Visit the website: emptiness.eu

ERC studentship

Applications are invited for a DPhil studentship in anthropology or migration studies; read more here.

Principal Investigator

Dace Dzenovska


Volodymyr Artiukh, Research Associate

Dominic Martin, Postdoctoral Researcher

Michelle Chew, Project Manager


European Research Council

Professionals' Advisory Group

The project will collaborate with local universities in Latvia, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. In Latvia, the Riga Stradiņš University will host the Principal Investigator for the duration of fieldwork.


Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus


Dzenovska, D. (2019). Emptiness: Capitalism After Socialism, Medium

Dzenovska, D. (2020). Emptiness: Capitalism Without People in the Latvian Countryside, American Ethnologist

Dzenovska, D. (2019). The Timespace of Emptiness, American Ethnologist


“Emptiness: Ways of Seeing” | 28 Sep-1 Oct 2021

These roundtables were recorded at the conference which was part of the ERC-funded EMPTINESS project at the University of Oxford, with Rīga Stradiņš University generously hosting the 28 Sep 2021 Field Workshop and a local in-person viewing hub.

Постсоветская пустота (Post-Soviet Emptiness), Polka “Tozhe Rossia” (in Russian) | October 2019