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.

ERC studentship

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

Principal Investigator

Dace Dzenovska


Michelle Chew (Project Manager)


European Research Council


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


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