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Annika Estner

annika Estner bw

PhD Candidate


Since 2013

Doctoral candidate, Freie Universität Berlin

December 2015

Doctoral fellowship, GHI Moscow


Magister Artium in History, English, and Slavonic Studies, Universität zu Köln


Erasmus fellowship, Jagiellonian University Cracow


Professional Experience

Since 2015        

Team Leader at the German Red Cross Tracing Service, department “Tracing World War II”


Team Assistant at the Berlin Wall Memorial


Research Assistant at the Historical Institute, Universität zu Köln

Thesis title: “Mir. Progress. Prava cheloveka. Soviet Dissident Scientists in the 1970s-1990s.”

Throughout my studies and my work, I was and still am constantly drawn to questions concerning the history of human rights since the 20th century: the UN Human Rights Convention, the CSCE conferences, Amnesty International, Pussy Riot.

I am fascinated by the political and cultural implications of human rights, the variety of actors involved, and their power to mobilise people all over the world in an ostensible common cause. What I find interesting in particular is the way private actors articulated and negotiated human rights and brought them to international public attention in a time when diplomatic relations often failed to do so during the Cold War era. Thus, they were able to put pressure not only on the Soviet Union or on South American dictatorships, but also even on such righteous states such as the U.S., Great Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany.

With reference to my second field of interest – the history of the Soviet dissident movement – I asked myself the question how actors in a repressive political and social environment were able to do what they did: publicising human rights violations and re-defining norms and values on an international stage. How did the way to articulate human rights change between Andrey Sakharov in 1968 and Pussy Riot in 2012?

In my research, I try to answer these questions by discussing the importance of transnational networks and by analysing the interdependency between cultural spheres (i.e. science), dissidence and the development of human rights ideas. My special focus will be on the relations of dissident physicists, mathematicians and biologists to their North American colleagues and to scientific academies such as the Federation of American Scientists and the Committee of Concerned Scientists.