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Kiril Avramov


Other facultyPh.D., University of Sofia

Kiril Avramov

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Courses


REE 335 • Political Warfare/Propagnda

43090 • Spring 2022
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BUR 224
GC

Please check back for updates.

REE 335 • Polit Ideologies/Manifestos

44077 • Fall 2021
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM BUR 220
EGC

Words like “communist” and “fascist” get tossed around a lot in contemporary politics. Often, they seem to be used as insults or accusations, but is there any objective way to determine if such accusations are valid? What does it actually mean if they are? Does someone have to be a member of a communist party to be a communist? Does someone have to be a member of a fascist party to be fascist? Can someone be a little bit Marxist? Are Nazis (National Socialists) fascists, socialists, both, or something else? Is there a difference between fascism and “alt-right?” Most people would agree that communism is far left and fascism is far right, but if both can produce totalitarian regimes, what’s the difference? Where do capital and capitalism fit in? Is capitalism even an ideology? Is it the only other option? The Industrial Revolution and tensions between classes during the late 19th and early 20th century led to the effective dismantling of the aristocracy Europe, upsetting established hierarchies. Several models for society were hypothesized with various – and even wildly different – ideas about what constitutes “a good life” (i.e., utopia). Yet in some form or another, capitalism, communism, and fascism have been consistently so mutually antagonistic as to threaten to destroy civilization.

Grading:

  • 14 weekly, online unit quizzes 30%
  • 5 short precis 50%
  • 1 final online exam 20%

REE 387 • Security/Policy E Eur/Rus-Wb

43950 • Spring 2021
Meets T 9:00AM-12:00PM
Internet; Synchronous

This graduate seminar will cover key foreign policy challenges and current security issues facing post-communist Eastern European countries from 5th and 6th EU enlargement waves from the perspective of their respective NATO and EU memberships. The seminar will offer a deeper analysis of the contemporary policy debates and solutions regarding the challenges that Central and Eastern European states face vis-à-vis resurgent Russia’s grand strategy and interventions, Chinese foreign policy outreach, as well as challenges posed by non-state actors. It will also cover extended topics related to their economic, energy and environmental security. The seminar will also address the challenges and existing and proposed policy solutions concerning terrorism, extremism, as well, as ethnic, religious and political radicalization at home and abroad. In addition, the survey will include the issues of demographic shifts and migration, as well the external pressures and uncertainties originating in EU’s Eastern and Southern neighborhoods, as challenges towards EU’s and NATO’s coherence. The seminar is designed to examine key tenets of Russian foreign and security policy from the 80’s onwards, as well, as the transformation of CEE countries’ national security strategies, threat perception and specific national priorities transitioning from former Warsaw pact to full-fledged NATO and EU membership. The seminar has a thematic structure and will analyze Russian and subsequently CEE countries’ policy formation within the framework of changing global security environment through the theoretic lenses of traditional IR and extended EU security policy frameworks. Special focus will be put on the process of threat perception formation in the so-called “borderlands” / “periphery” of NATO and EU and small states’ issue securitization within the framework of these organizations’ strategies in response to contemporary external challenges. The seminar aims to equip the participants with conceptual tools in examining the role and place of CEE states in formation, adoption and implementation of EU’s security policy, critical analysis of their contemporary key foreign and security policy dilemmas and an opportunity for interpretation of their respective national and security interests.

REE 302D • Russian Icons/Propaganda-Wb

42465 • Fall 2020
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM
Internet; Synchronous
GC

Description:

“(Russian) Icons and Propaganda” is a course about signs, symbols, and the contexts that give them meaning. The particular types of signs and symbols that we explore in this lower division course are religious iconography and political propaganda. Our exploration involves many of the sites where these images are found (e.g. cathedrals, public spaces, private homes, etc.) and many of the various media in which they occur (e.g. paintings, posters, television, film, etc.). While it would certainly be possible to study them separately, the two sets of symbols that we examine in this course share a context that allows us to consider them together: Russia.

Without a context, symbols are just pictures – maybe not even that! Within a context, however, they function in many of the same ways that language does. Signs and symbols convey meaning, and as with language, the more developed the system, the more information it is possible for them to convey. The “languages” of Russian icons and propaganda are quite developed and very much alive. Moreover, the amount of overlap between them may seem surprising… but it shouldn’t. The reason for this is that the imagery – the “language” – of Russian propaganda grew out of the already-existing symbolism of Russian religious iconography. And while the signs and symbols of Russian propaganda have since developed along their own paths, they still share much in common. To a certain extent, to understand one of these symbolic systems is to understand them both. 

The symbolism of Russian Orthodox iconography reached its impressive capacity to convey meaning in part because of a need to teach often complicated religious ideas to illiterate peasants before (and even during) the twentieth century. By pulling heavily from a symbolic “language” that the Russian masses already understood, propagandists were able to enter the scene with symbolically sophisticated messages in a “language” that everyone could already read. In this course students learn to read the signs and symbols of icons and propaganda in their Russian context. From subway ceilings to cathedral walls, living room shrines to murals on municipal buildings, kid’s cartoons to epic film, students will engage with the both the symbols and their contexts using basic semiotic (symbols) and discursive (contextual) techniques for analyzing and interpreting meaning in these two fascinating and surprisingly similar symbolic “languages.”

Selected Readings:

  • Bonnell, Victoria E. Iconography of Power: Soviet Political Posters Under Lenin and Stalin. Berkeley [u.a.: Univ. of California Press, 2007. 
  • Hall, Stuart, Jessica Evans, and Sean Nixon. Representation: Edited by Stuart Hall, Jessie Evans and Sean Nixon. London: Sage Publications, 2013.
  • Ouspensky, Leonid, and Vladimir Lossky. The Meaning of Icons. Crestwood, N.Y: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1999.

REE 335 • Polit Ideologies/Manifestos-Wb

42475 • Fall 2020
Meets WF 10:00AM-11:00AM
Internet; Synchronous
EGC

Please check back for updates.

GOV 365N • Security/Policy E Eur/Rus

38124 • Spring 2020
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM BUR 136
GC (also listed as REE 335)

Description:

This course will examine key contemporary security issues and policy dilemmas through the perspective of post-communist Eastern European countries from 5th and 6th EU enlargement waves, in the framework of their membership in supranational organizations. It will survey the existing and emerging internal policy debates concerning the challenges that Central and Eastern European states face vis-à-vis resurgent Russia’s grand strategy and interventions, Chinese foreign policy outreach, energy security, as well as the challenges posed by terror, migration and the pressures and uncertainties originating in EU’s Eastern and Southern neighborhoods. The course is designed to examine the transformation of regional states’ national security strategies, threat perception and priorities transitioning from former Warsaw pact to full-fledged EU and NATO membership in shaping their respective national security priorities. The course is designed thematically and will focus on interpreting the respective countries’ policy shifts and responses within the framework of changing global security environment through the theories and concepts of EU security policy. Specific accent will be put on the “borderlands” threat perception, issue securitization, prioritization and subsequent policy formation of the small states within the framework of the EU and NATO’s strategies in response to contemporary external challenges. The aims of this survey include the provision of students with conceptual tools in examining the role and place of Central and Eastern European states in formation and adoption of EU’s security policy, critical analysis of their contemporary key foreign and security policy dilemmas, as well as an opportunity for interpretation of the national interests, policy responses, interactions and foreign policy and security contexts of the respective countries in focus.

REE 387 • Protest And Rev In E Europe

43095 • Spring 2020
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM PAR 305

Description:

This seminar focuses on the causes, specific patterns and modes of mobilization, protest and regime change in Eastern Europe in comparative historical context from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution to 2014 Ukrainian revolution. The seminar will scrutinize and compare the specific national roots of discontent, mechanics of mass mobilization, patterns of democratic uprisings and the nature of internal and external responses at national elite and mass levels. It will also analyze the interactions with external actors, foreign policy and security interests involved and actual outcomes and impact of these events in the context of respective countries’ socialist and post-socialist pathways. In search of answers, as to why and how Eastern Europeans protest and rebel, and critically evaluate what are the results of these in historic perspective, we will combine a mix of traditional approaches borrowing conceptual instrumentation from the fields of political science and history pertinent to continuity and change in Eastern Europe. In addition, as students will be engaged in empirical analysis of primary declassified archived national security, intelligence and diplomacy relevant material, elements of theory of intelligence will be employed, in evaluation of Western and Eastern respective perceptions, analysis and estimation of processes and expected outcomes. Students will be encouraged to investigate, examine and interpret the archival data that reflects the causes, roots and expected outcomes of protests and revolutions in Eastern Europe through the lenses of American diplomacy, intelligence and security apparatus, in search of analytical biases, detection and specific interpretations of Soviet and Russian “active measures” applied in response to anticipated or active protest and mobilization. The aim of the thematic seminar is to combine multiple theoretical approaches with practical application in developing an informed appreciation and deeper understanding of the internal root causes and “mechanics” of Eastern European protest and mobilization strategies, as well as their Western “reflection” through the lenses of the national security and intelligence apparatus, as sources in aiding subsequent policy shifts and responses.     

GOV 360N • Political Warfare/Propagnda

37624 • Fall 2019
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM PMA 5.124
GC (also listed as REE 335)

Description: This course focuses on the phenomenon of political warfare in contemporary global context, with a focus on Russia and Eastern Europe. The course will broaden students’ understanding of the nature of political warfare, including its role and limits in achieving influence over opponents’ decision-making processes via non-lethal methods. Using historical case studies as a starting point, we will explore the evolution of techniques of political warfare, including psychological warfare and propaganda. Through readings and discussion, students will learn to evaluate various frameworks for evaluating the deployment of “weaponized information”, often used in combination with force, subversion, economic pressure and public diplomacy, to achieve national strategic and tactical goals. We will also look at the role of intelligence in crafting, disseminating and exploiting information in both historical and contemporary contexts. Finally, we will investigate contemporary forms of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and “fake news” as “weaponized” by non-liberal democratic regimes in pursuit of their respective foreign policy goals. Students will be expected to attend certain relevant events organized by UT Austin’s Intelligence Studies Project.

Grading:

Grading will consist of:

1) in-class participation (5 %)

2) weekly response papers (40 % i.e. 5% each paper)

3) mid-term exam (20%)

4) in-class case presentation (5 %)

5) final research paper (30%).

 

Required texts: These are the texts that contain the required reading for this course. 

  • Jowett, G. S., & O'Donnell, V. (2015). Propaganda & persuasion.Sixth Edition ,Sage.;
  • Ellul, J. (1965). Propaganda: the formation of men's attitudes. Knopf.
  • McCauley, K. (2016). Russian Influence Campaigns Against the West. From the Cold War to Putin., Createspace Independent Publishing.
  • Patrikarakos, D. (2017). War in 140 Characters: How Social Media is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century. Basic Books.

GOV 360N • Political Warfare/Propagnda

38537 • Fall 2018
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM MEZ 1.212
GC (also listed as REE 335)

Description:

This seminar focuses on the phenomenon of political warfare in contemporary global context, with a focus on Russia and Eastern Europe. The course will broaden students’ understanding of the nature of political warfare, including its role and limits in achieving influence over opponents’ decision-making processes via non-lethal methods. Using historical case studies as a starting point, we will explore the evolution of techniques of political warfare, including psychological warfare and propaganda. Through readings and discussion, students will learn to evaluate various frameworks for evaluating the deployment of “weaponized information”, often used in combination with force, subversion, economic pressure and public diplomacy, to achieve national strategic and tactical goals. We will also look at the role of intelligence in crafting, disseminating and exploiting information in both historical and contemporary contexts. Finally, we will investigate contemporary forms of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and “fake news” as “weaponized” by non-liberal democratic regimes in pursuit of their respective foreign policy goals.

Students will be expected to attend relevant events organized by UT Austin’s Intelligence Studies Project.

 

Learning outcomes:

1) understand the nature of political warfare in the contemporary context 2) evaluate the role and toolbox of psy-ops in historic and contemporary contexts and 3) analyze and critically evaluate instances of propaganda and strategic messaging.              

 

Target audience:

Students interested in intelligence studies, international relations and diplomacy, Russian foreign policy, as well as Russian and Eastern Europe area studies.

Curriculum Vitae


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External Links



  • Center for European Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
    158 W 21st Street
    A1800
    Austin, Texas 78712
    512-232-3470