PhD Olena Fim'yar (POINT 2011-12)


University of Cambridge

Faculty of Education

Senior Research Associate

184 Hills Road
CB28PQ Cambridge, United Kingdom

Olena Fimyar received her MPhil and PhD degrees at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK. Before joining the Center for Area Studies at Freie Freie Universität Berlin as a POINT-DRS fellow in Dec 2011, Olena conducted a short-term research project on the ‘Sociology of Post-Communist Intellectuals’ at the Collegium Budapest, Institute for Advanced Study; she also was a visiting fellow at the School of Education, University of Nottingham and a DAAD visiting scholar at the Department of Social Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. From Aug 2010 - July 2011 Olena was an OSI/HESP Returning Scholar in Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kyiv, and Black Sea University, Mykolayiv, Ukraine.

Experiences of being a returning scholar and a previous engagement with Foucauldian scholarship have informed Olena’s interest in the study on ‘Return Academic Migration in Post-Communist Europe’. The key objective of the study is to understand the changes taking place at the level of actor subjectivities at the point of their ‘re-entry’ and reintegration into their home cultures and the influences the presence of returning scholars produces on the changing cultures of post-communist academe.

In July 2012, Olena left the POINT program and started a position as a Senior Research Associate at the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge in the UK.


Focus of Research

Return academic migration, post-communist subjectivity, Westernised post-communists, academic cultures, Foucault


Postdoctoral Research Project

Return Academic Migration in Post-Communist Europe

The study will examine the process of return academic migration in post-communist Europe through tracing career trajectories of 30 recent EU University graduates from Russia (10), Ukraine (10) and Belarus (10) who return to their countries of origin to pursue their academic careers. Apart from focusing on career trajectories of 30 academic returnees, the study will survey 70 students from the region currently studying towards their degrees in Germany and the UK. The aim of the survey is to understand personal motivations, triggers and structural constrains behind the students’ decisions to return or not to return to their countries of origin.

Due to the lack of studies on return academic migration, the scope of return and its impact on countries’ development remains largely unknown. In Ukraine alone the network of ‘returning scholars’ – academic returnees supported by Soros Foundation – comprises 60 early- and mid-career University lecturers who worked in two Ukrainian Universities from between 2006 and 2010. However, neither the presence nor the voice of this already critical number of returnees is visible in political and social arenas; neither known their impact on the changing research cultures of post-communist academe.

To explore the returnees’ impact on home institutions’ cultures, the study will involve two-week research visits to each of three Universities, which host returning scholars in the region. These Universities are Smolny College, St Petersburg, Russia, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kyiv, Ukraine, and Belarus State University, Minsk, Belarus. The projected outcomes of these ethnographic visits will be a series of publications and a 20 minute documentary (still under consideration) on changing cultures of post-communist academe.

The study will be an important and timely contribution to research on migration and academic mobility. By tracing the process of return migration, from the point of making decision to return, to re-integration in the home cultures and institutions, the study will uncover sets of conditions, which positively influence returnees’ decisions to remain in their countries of origin. This critical information will allow national governments and various funding bodies (EU, Soros Foundation, US Department of State) and alumni networks (American Council, Fulbright Foundation, British Council, DAAD) to consolidate the efforts on building and retaining human capital in post-communist Europe.

Articles in academic Journals

Fimyar O. (2011) A Manifesto of a Post-Communist Post-Structuralist Researcher: Post-Viva Voce Reflections, European Education Journal, 43 (2), pp. 74-97.

Fimyar, O. (2009) (reprint of 2008b) Governamentalidade como Ferramenta Conceitual na Pesquisa de Politicas de Educacionais, Educação & Realidade, 34(2), mai/ago, 35-56

Fimyar, O. (2008a) Educational Policy-Making in Post-Communist Ukraine as an Example of Emerging Governmentality: Discourse analysis of selected curriculum choice and assessment policy documents (1999-2004), Journal of Education Policy, Vol. 23, No. 6, 571–593.

Fimyar, O. (2008b) Using Governmentality as a Conceptual Tool in Education Policy Research, Educate ~ The Journal of Doctoral Research in Education, available online at, 3-18.


Chapters in edited Volumes

Fimyar, O. (2010a) Policy Why(s): Policy Rationalities and the Changing Logic of Educational Reform in Post-Communist Ukraine (1991-2008), in I. Silova (ed.) Post-Socialism is not Dead: (Re)reading the global in comparative education. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Fimyar, O. (2010b). The (Un)Importance of Public Opinion in Educational Policy-Making in Post-Communist Ukraine: Education Policy ‘Elites’ on the Role of Civil Society in Policy Formation. In S. Fischer & H. Pleines (Eds.), Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Successes and Failures of Europeanisation in Politics and Society, Changing Europe Book Series (Vol. 7, pp. 157-173). Stuttgart: Ibidem Publishers. Retrieved from


peer-reviewed publications

Book reviews

Fimyar, O. (2012) Politics, Modernisation and Educational Reform in Russia: From Past to Present, by D. Johnson (ed.) (2010) in COMPARE: A Journal of International and Comparative Education (forthcoming)

Fimyar, O. (2012) Borderlands into Bordered Lands: Geopolitics of Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine by T. Zhurzhenko (2010) in Ab Imperio (to be submitted Feb 2012)


Articles submitted

Fimyar, O. (2012) Post-Communist Policy Actors in Neo-Liberal Times: A Study of Subjectivities, to International Political Sociology Journal


In preparation

Fimyar, O. (2012) Policy How(s): Seeing and Conceptualising Power in the Field of Education, Actors’ Perspectives’ – to be submitted to Comparative Education Reveiw

Fimyar, O., et al. (2012) Sociology of Return Migration to be submitted to Annual Review of Sociology

Fimyar, O. (2012) Return Academic Migration in Post-Communist Europe: Focus of Actor Subjectivities to be submitted to International Migration Review

Fimyar, O. (2013) Educational Policy-Making in Post-Communist Ukraine: Policies, Rationalities, Subjectivities, Power, A Foucauldian Perspective – PhD thesis to be published as a book monograph