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Dr. O. (Olga) Sezneva

Universitair Docent 1
Faculteit der Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen
Programmagroep: Cultural Sociology
Fotograaf: Olga Sezneva

  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
  • Kamernummer: B6.18
  • Postbus 15508
    1001 NA Amsterdam
  • Profile

    I am an Urban and Cultural Sociologist with interests in architecture and material culture, migration and displacement, media piracy, urban aesthetics, and the artistic research. I hold a Ph.D. from New York University (2005), and was a Harper-Schmidt Society Fellow at the University of Chicago in 2005-2009. In 2014-2016, I was Visiting Professor at European University at St. Petersburg, Russia. Currently, I teach Urban Sociology, Urban Studies and Social Theory at the University of Amsterdam, and co-direct post-graduate program in transdisciplinary urban design Building the City Now!.

    My earlier research was concerned with territorial resettlement and the use of architecture and urban planning in it. Using the case of Kaliningrad, the region of Russia annexed from Germany in 1945 which was completely repopulated and renamed, I followed the repurposing, reuse, or destruction of the German-period architecture and material culture by the Russian-speaking settlers. My current work brings me back to this theme, but extends it to Namibia. How does the German-built environment figure in the formation of a new national identity and the sense of historical justice in this post-colonial, post-apartheid country? A similar focus on design and its aesthetics informs my interest in Schaerbeek, Brussels, as well as other areas of urban renewal in Europe. How do residents of fast-changing, gentrifying urban areas ‘read’ the space, relate to urban amenities, and experience social inclusion or exclusion through them? To make these questions empirically accessible, I use the Q-sort method augmented by photo-elicitation as my main research strategy.

    I also developed interest in media piracy and digitisation. In 2007, I joined a multi-sited international collaborative project Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, which focused on the introduction of intellectual property and its impact on the circulation of cultural goods in six countries: Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, and Bolivia. The research was supported by Ford Foundation (U.S.A.) and The International Development Research Centre (Canada). Its results suggest that rather than ‘crime’, the problem of piracy is better conceived as a failure of affordable access to media in legal markets.

    I applied some of the finding of the Media Piracy to re-thinking Marxian analysis of the commodity form. Together with Sebastien Chauvin (the Institut des Sciences Sociales of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland), I co-authored article Has Capitalism Gone Virtual?, in which we argue that self-reproducing of digital goods have demanded increasingly costly prosthetics to insure their maintenance as commodities — their content containment. This work was translated to Spanish and included in Sociología Histórica: El Capital de Marx, 151 años del Libro I.

    Passionate about transdisciplinarity, I co-created and co-directed in 2013-2015, a new program in transdisciplinary urban design Building the City Now! (BCNow!). The program and its pedagogy cultivates transversality by helping students overcome their learnt identities and anticipated roles in the design process. Its development was supported by the independent Institute of Urbanism SREDA (St. Petersburg, Russia), and the curriculum has been accredited by the Fundació Politècnica de Catalunya (FPC).

    Besides my strictly academic work, I also practice artistic research and explore fiction-writing as a mode of expressing my research-driven ideas. My artistic collaborations include Moving Matters Traveling Workshop, an international artist collective, where I curate, perform, and act as a producer. My literary work appeared in LitroMagazine, "an innovative literary magazine specializing in short fiction", and EuropeNow, "a global publication for a broad, multi-disciplinary educated audience".

  • Grants, Fellowships and Awards


    Jean Monnet Networks (policy debate with the academic world), Erasmus+ Programme. Project The Securitization of Migrants and Ethnic Minorities and the Rise of Xenophobia in the EU (SECUREU) (reference number 620149-EPP-1-2020-1-ES-EPPJMO-NETWORK). Institutional partners: The Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), The University of Glasgow, The Herder Institute Marburg, The University of Amsterdam, The Institute for Minority Rights at European Academy Bozen/Bolzano (EURAC), The Council of European Studies (CES). Role: leader of the UvA/NIAS part of the consortium; co-investigator.


    The Aspasia grant of project number 016.Vici.185.077, financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO)

    Amsterdam Center for European Studies Research Grant ( €4,000)


    Research Fellowship at Herder Institute for Historical Studies of Eastern and Central Europe. Marburg, Germany. April-May (€5,000)

    Center for Urban Studies and Amsterdam Center for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam. ‘Urban Valorization and the Heritage-Making’ (€10,000)


    Joint ‘Seed-grant’ from Center for Urban Studies, University of Amsterdam, and STS Center, European University at St. Petersburg (€7,500)


    Mega-Grant for International Research Cooperation. Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation (#14.U04.31.0001). ‘International Diaspora of Russian Computer Scientists.’ PI: Professor Mario Biagioli, University of California, Davies (RUB 70 100 000 / €1, 635 292)


    Ford Foundation (U.S.A.) and The International Development Research Centre (Canada) joint grant($1.4 million). Project ’Media Piracy in Emerging Economies. A comparative study of Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, and Bolivia. PI: Joe Karaganis, SSRC/American Assembly


    Teaching awards


    Nominee for the ‘Teacher of the Year’ award, University of Amsterdam


    Recipient of the ‘Professor of the Year’ award, European University at St. Petersburg


  • Publicaties




    • Chernysheva, L., & Sezneva, O. (2020). Commoning beyond ‘commons’: The case of the Russian ‘obshcheye’. The Sociological Review, 68(2), 322-340. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026120905474 [details]
    • Chernysheva, L., Dányi, E., de la Cadena, M., Farquhar, J., Joks, S., Kondo, S., Lai, L., Law, J., Lin, W., Magelhães, B., Martínez Medina, S., M'charek, A., Mol, A., Sezneva, O., Swanson, H., & Østmo, L. (2020). Translating a title: On other terms. The Sociological Review, 68(2), 283-286. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026120905470 [details]
    • Sezneva, O. (2020). Of trophy and triumph: Affective lives of dispossessed homes. In S. Watson (Ed.), Spatial Justice in the City (pp. 79-94). (Space, Materiality and the Normative). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351185790 Pages



    • Sezneva, O. (2015). Pirate cosmopolitics and the transnational consciousness of the entertainment industry. In P. Levitt, & P. Nyíri (Eds.), Books, Bodies, and Bronzes: Comparing sites of global citizenship creation (pp. 78-94). (Ethnic and Racial Studies). London: Routledge. [details]





    • Sezneva, O. (2010). Modalities of self-understanding, identification and representation in the post-1991 Kaliningrad: a critical view. In S. Berger (Ed.), Kaliningrad in Europa: nachbarschaftliche Perspektiven nach dem Ende des Kalten Krieges (pp. 35-57). (Veröffentlichungen des Nordost-Instituts; No. 14). Harrassowitz. [details]



    • Sezneva, O. (2016). Cities of Socialism: Migration, Mass Housing and Political Change an Eastern Europe And The Soviet Union after World War II: [Review of: S.E. Harris (2013) Communism on Tomorrow Street: Mass Housing and Everyday Life After Stalin; K. Lebow (2013) Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism and Polish society, 1949-56; G. Thum (2011) Uprooted: How Breslau Became Wrocław During the Century of Expulsions]. Journal of Urban History, 42(5), 1153-1157. https://doi.org/10.1177/0096144216676776 [details]






    • Sezneva, O., & Dodsworth, F. (2012). Safer Cycling: mobilising politics and infrastructure in Amsterdam and London. Paper presented at Promises: Crisis and Socio-Cultural Change, Manchester, United Kingdom.

    Prijs / subsidie

    • Sezneva, O. (2013). Mega-Grant for International Research Cooperation. Project ‘International Diaspora of Russian Computer Scientists.’ (2013-2016).

    Lidmaatschap / relevante positie

    • Sezneva, O. (2015). Member, American Sociological Association.
    • Sezneva, O. (2015-2017). American Sociological Association, Annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Chicago.
    • Sezneva, O. (2013). Co-director, IMES, UvA.
    • Sezneva, O. (2011). Co-director, IMES, IMES.
    • Sezneva, O. & Guadeloupe, F. E. (2011). Organizer, NWO-ICSSR conference 'Religion and Ethnicity in the Age of Globalization.
    • Sezneva, O., Vermeulen, F. F. & Kalir, B. (2011). Co-organizer. Race and Whiteness in Comparative Perspective conference, IMES.
    • Sezneva, O. (2010-2013). member of the editorial board, Contemporary Sociology.
    • Sezneva, O. (2010-2011). Editorial Board, Contemporary Sociology.
    • Sezneva, O. (2010-2011). member, Council for European Studies.
    • Sezneva, O. (2010-2011). local organizing committee member, RC21 Conferece.


    • Sezneva, O. (30-04-2016). Polis: learning from the European Prize for Public Space [Web] The Village online. Polis: learning from the European Prize for Public Space.
    • Sezneva, O. (02-05-2012). Transnational Piracy Research in Practice: A Roundtable Interview with Joe Karaganis, John Cross, Olga Sezneva, and Ravi Sundaram [Print] Television and New Media: volume 13, issue 5, pp. 447-458. Transnational Piracy Research in Practice: A Roundtable Interview with Joe Karaganis, John Cross, Olga Sezneva, and Ravi Sundaram. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1527476412443566
    • Sezneva, O. (03-10-2011). Pirates [Radio] mfwu.org, New York City. Pirates.


    • Sezneva, O. (speaker) (24-5-2018). Pride and Property: Emotions, Justice and the Changing Regimes of Ownership in Kaliningrad, the Former Königsberg, Material Feelings: Population Displacement and Property Transfer in Modern Europe and Beyond, Leipzig.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) & Ossman, S. (invited speaker) (20-10-2016). Traveling Narratives and Images in Times of Migration, The Norwegian University Centre in Paris, NUCP/Maison des Sciences de l’Homme.
    • Sezneva, O. (speaker) (30-6-2016). Displacement, Dispossession, Affect. The circulation of Koenigsberg’s material culture in the contemporary Kaliningrad., Spatial Justice in the City, Milton Keynes.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (2016). Invited paper ‘Pride and Property’, Workshop Spatial Justice at Manchester University, Manchester.
    • Sezneva, O. (speaker) (2016). Moving Matters Traveling Workshop and Conference. Invited speaker., Travelling workshop at Center for Globalization Studies, University of California , Riverside.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (2016). Invited plenary speaker, Conference VDNKh, St. Petersburg.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (23-10-2015). Value, Intellect and the Commodity Form in the Age of Digital Technology, Invited lecture at ‘Club Context’, Sint Petersburg.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (17-9-2015). ‘Between Duree and Obduracy. On the Construction of Continuity in Urban Space’, Plenary lecture. Conference: Urban STS. Reassembling the Field. European University at St. Petersburg., St. Petersburg.
    • Sezneva, O. (speaker) (11-8-2015). Pirate Cosmopolitics and the Transnational Consciousness of Entertainment Industry.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (20-7-2015). Debating Citizens in Search for Publicness, Invited speaker at ‘Places vs Scenarios’. Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Barcelona.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (12-6-2015). Order and Disorder in Contemporary City, Key-note address, launch of Open University intiative, St-Petersburg. http://eu.spb.ru/sts/news/15080-olga-sezneva-v-otkrytom-universitete
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (14-12-2012). Rethniking Copyright Through Copy in Russia, VDNKh, European University at St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) & Chauvin, S. (invited speaker) (3-12-2011). Value, intellect and the obsolescence of commodity (invited paper), Critical Historical Studies conference (University of Chicago and The Social Theory Workshop), Chicago. http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/socialtheory/files/2011/09/3ct-CHS-Pamphlet-final.pdf
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (6-9-2011). We Have Never Been German: lessons from the forced migration, Framing the City, CRESC Annual Conference, Manchester.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (25-8-2011). Doing Research on Piracy: Issues of the Method (invited paper), Global Congress on Public Interest, Washington, DC.
    • Sezneva, O. (invited speaker) (15-4-2011). Rethinking Copyright Through the Copy (invited paper), NYLUM (New York University and LSE): Cultures of Circulation conference, Ottowa.


    • Roei, N. (organiser), Pols, J. (organiser), Lane, M. (organiser), Stergioula, S. (organiser), Parry, M. (participant), Sezneva, O. (participant), Krause, K. (participant), Vroon, V. (participant), Yalciner, G. (participant), Camuti, F. (participant) & Phillips, S. (participant) (12-10-2023). ArtiC interfaculty meeting, Amsterdam. ArtiC interfaculty meeting (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (organiser) & Gantner, E. (organiser) (13-9-2018 - 14-9-2018). Heritage Activism in Cities of Eastern Europe and Russia from 1968 to the Current, Marburg (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • van de Kamp, L. (participant), Halauniova, A. (participant), Birdsall, C. (participant) & Sezneva, O. (participant) (18-5-2018). Urban Valorisation: Cultural Forms, Local Heritage and Redevelopment Agendas (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (organiser) (17-5-2018). Urban Valorization - Traverse Heritage: Voice, Body, Movement, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • van de Kamp, L. (participant), Sezneva, O. (organiser), Birdsall, C. (organiser) & Halauniova, A. (organiser) (17-5-2018). Urban Valorization - Traverse Heritage: Voice, Body, Movement, Amsterdam. Moving Matters Traveling Workshop in Hermitage, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • van de Kamp, L. (participant), Sezneva, O. (organiser), Halauniova, A. (organiser) & Birdsall, C. (organiser) (17-5-2018). Museum Performance: Traverse Heritage: Voice, Body, Movement, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (organiser) (28-3-2018 - 30-3-2018). 25th International Conference of Europeanists, Chicago. panel organiser and presenter. Panel: Arts of Migration. Performance and non-fiction reading. (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (chair) (12-12-2016). Spui25. Lights of Russia: Russian IT Development, Amsterdam (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (organiser) (22-10-2016). Spui25. Soviet Cybernetics, a public lecture by Diana West, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (organiser) (17-5-2016 - 20-5-2016). ‘Live Infrastructure’, St. Petersburg (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (other) (28-4-2016 - 26-5-2016). Organizer: Polis: four lectures on urban development by invited international speakers (other).
    • Sezneva, O. (participant) (16-12-2015 - 19-12-2015). at European University at SPb (in cooperation with ITMO University (St Petersburg), UvA), Sint Petersburg. Co-organizer: ‘Computational and Social Sciences: Erasing the Boundaries’ (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (participant) (14-12-2015). In cooperation between CUS and IMES, Amsterdam. Organizer: ‘Being Political in Architecture and Urban Design’ (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (participant) (17-9-2015 - 19-9-2015). At European University EUSPB (in cooperation with CSTS-U of Munich and ETH-Zurich), Sint Petersburg. Co-organizer: ‘Urban STS: reassembling the field’ (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Sezneva, O. (organiser) (25-8-2012 - 27-8-2012). MISOCO annual conference., UvA, Amsterdam. Mobility: a new paradigm? (organising a conference, workshop, ...).



    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
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