Li Bennich-Björkman

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Li Bennich-Björkman

The University of Tartu has conferred the degree of Honorary Doctor of Political Science on Professor Li Bennich-Björkman for her outstanding achievements in political science in the study of Estonian society and for developing cooperation with the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies of the University of Tartu.

Li Bennich-Björkman was born on 4 April 1960 in Uppsala, Sweden. She acquired her bachelor’s degree in 1984 at Uppsala University and defended her doctoral degree in political sciences at the same university in 1991.

Bennich-Björkman has also linked her career with Uppsala University, where she first started as an assistant professor in 1993. In 2000, she became a senior lecturer, and since 2008, she has been the Johan Skytte Professor in Eloquence and Political Science at Uppsala University. Until 2016, she also was the research director of the Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Her main research areas are political developments in post-Communist Europe and the post-Soviet regions. Her research focuses primarily on corruption, political party development, nationalism, civil society, European Union integration and political culture. From 2021, she is the head of the Department of Government at Uppsala University. She has supervised countless bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral theses and created courses on topics such as Swedish politics, comparative politics, political sociology, international politics, political institutions, and citizen politics and participation.

She has been a visiting scholar at leading universities across the world, including such prestigious universities as Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Gothenburg. Bennich-Björkman has been given several prizes and awards for her great contribution to research. In 2017, Li Bennich-Björkman was nominated to be a member of the prestigious AcademiaNet portal, which supports the visibility and international cooperation of female scientists. In 2018, she received the Disa Prize for her book Sörja ett liv, leva ett annat. Flyktingens mörker och ljus (Mourn a Life, Live Another. On the Refugees Darkness and Light). Additionally, she has been a member of the prize committee of the world-famous Johan Skytte Prize since 2009.

A connection with Estonia extends to her research – namely, in her publications, Bennich-Björkman has covered many topics related to Estonia and the Baltic states. In her monograph Bakom och bortom järnridån - De sovjetiska åren och frigörelsen i Baltikum och Ukraina (Behind and Beyond the Iron Curtain. The Soviet years and liberation in the Baltic States and Ukraine) (2022), she explores why the Baltic states and Ukraine have turned out so differently after the collapse of the Soviet Union. She has also analysed the cultural roots of Estonia’s transition in the 1990s (2007) and the political culture of the Estonian interwar generations in Canada and Sweden (2006).

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