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Get ready for the final edition of Eastsplainers! During this edition of Eastsplainers we devote our attention to academia and the knowledge production in Central and Eastern Europe, and in Ukraine in particular. To mark the end Eastsplainers series, this night will also feature a pop-up exhibition. “Light in the Darkness” is presented by Dutch-Ukrainian Cultural Centre Kastanje and exhibits the work of Dutch-Ukrianian artist duo Barro Donker and Olga Tykhonova.
Event details of Eastsplainers #10: Academia
8 March 2024
17:00 -18:30
BG 3


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.  

The tenth and last edition of the Eastsplainers public programme series will also be the opening of the pop-up ehibition "Light in the Darkness". After the programme, we invite everyone to take a look at the exhibtion and join us for a drink in VOX-POP. 

About "Light in the Darkness"

“Light in the Darkness” displays the collaborative efforts of two artists: Barro Donker from the Netherlands and Olga Tykhonova from Ukraine. Having worked together for over a year, these artists have created distinctive pieces. Their selection for this exhibit was deliberate, as their work vividly captures the essence of the current state in Ukraine. It simultaneously reflects the harsh realities faced by its people daily while also encapsulating elements of hope, resilience, and the enduring spirit of its culture.

Barro Donker approaches life in its raw form, depicting its myriad greys interspersed with bursts of colour. Olga Tykhonova introduces the warmth and texture of felted wool to Donker’s pieces, infusing them with life and depth. Together, their creations are notably compelling, showcasing a unique blend of perspectives and mediums.

As part of this programme, an artist talk will take place on Monday 11 March.


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. 

BG 3

Binnengasthuisstraat 9
1012 ZA Amsterdam