The Twitterstorians at Two
Today marks the second anniversary of the Twitterstorians – two years ago today Katrina Gulliver began compiling a list of historians on Twitter, using the #twitterstorian hashtag. Last year, to mark our first anniversary, I wrote a short blog post about the virtues of using Twitter for academic networking and praising its ability to allow me to connect with other historians which you can read HERE.
Everything I wrote a year ago remains true today. Social networking remains controversial in some respects and my own friends, colleagues and acquaintances provide an interesting and illustrative sample spectrum: polarised between some who enthusiastically and actively engage with social networking; some who dismiss Twitter as ‘an utter waste of time’, and all of those who fill the void in between: occasional users, passive tweeters (those who use Twitter to follow others rather than tweet themselves) and some who use Twitter for a clearly defined aim, tweeting on a strictly professional or strictly personal basis. 2011 has been a year which has seen Twitter hit the headlines: initially praised for its role as a tool facilitating the organisation of protest movements and resistance during the so called ‘Arab Spring’ and then swiftly denigrated for its alleged use by rioters during the unrest that swept London and several other UK cities in July (although drawing on evidence from my own timeline, I saw no examples of Twitter being used as a tool for spreading unrest, but several examples of Twitter being utilised for positive ends during the post-riot clean-ups that were spontaneously organised in many UK cities, such as THIS campaign, which I personally contributed to).
The UK Higher Education Sector are increasingly recognising the potential benefits of using social networking as a medium for communication, publicity, self-promotion and information exchange. In the current climate universities are keen to explore cost effective ways of promoting themselves to and engaging with potential and current students, while academics are increasingly urged to demonstrate the wider ‘impact’, engagement and relevance of their research – this includes Historians, who, even within academic circles, often have the reputation for being behind the times and resistant to change! Last September I began a Lectureship at the History and Classics department at Swansea University. Since then, the department has established its own twitter feed HERE and several of my colleagues have also become regular ‘tweeters’.
Over the last year, I have continued to use Twitter as a tool to promote and publicise The View East. The Blog’s Twitter Feed @thevieweast now has over 300 followers, and I’d like to thank each and every one of you who have re-tweeted links and comments of interest I’ve posted during the last year! Publicising new blog posts via Twitter enables me to reach a much wider audience. As a result, today The View East is receiving a greater number of ‘hits’ than ever before, with my blog stats indicating that traffic directed via Twitter is consistently one of the highest sources of viewings (along with Google searches). This summer I hosted a ‘student showcase’ on The View East – the first in what I hope will become an annual event – publishing a series of blog posts authored by final year history students from Swansea University. This initiative was widely promoted on Twitter (not only on @thevieweast and my own personal twitter feed @kellyhignett but also via @SwanseaUni and @SwanseaHistory) and via the main university website. Over the last twelve months, my own blog posts at The View East have led to several media engagements, consultancy opportunities, conference papers and other research-related activities, as well as bringing me into contact with a number of people working in related areas.
The list of Twitterstorians has continued to grow over the last year, so here are just a small selection of some of my favourite Tweeters relating to modern history and contemporary affairs (largely Russia/FSU/Eastern Europe):
@HistoryCarnival – Highlights the best in history-related blogging each month (and the September issue includes The View East!)
@CWIHP – Cold War International History Project
@coldwarpenguin – For general Cold War related links
@BASEES – British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies
@UCLSSEES –School of Slavonic and East European Studies at UCL
@UCLSSEESLibrary – SSEES Library, based in London, hosting the UK’s largest open access collection on Russia and Eastern Europe and site of many of my own research visits!
@RFERL – International media service, including some fascinating articles relating to the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
@MoscowTimes – For Russian related news (in English)
@RT_com (Russia Today) – For Russian related news (in English)
@ria_novosti – For Russian related news (in English)
@Russianist – Tweets and blogs on Russian history and literature
@EdwardLucas – Tweets about Central Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Cold War, especially crime & intelligence
@MishaGlenny – Tweets about history, politics and media, including Central Eastern Europe, the Balkans, organised crime, technology
@MarkGaleotti – NYU academic and blogger, tweets about Russian security, crime, corruption and policing.
@MattPotter – Author and journalist, tweets about crime, politics, media
@MDRBrown – Academic, tweets on Cold War history, international relations, Eastern Europe
@andrewholt – Academic tweeting on Cold War History, C20 British Foreign Policy
@Lemberik – Blog about minorities and human rights in Central and Eastern Europe
@Horia_Victor – Tweets about minorities and human rights in Russia/FSU and Eastern Europe
@polandww2 – Tweets about Poland, WWII, the Eastern Front
@JohnsonRussiaLi – Johnson’s Russia List, for a wide range of Russian-related info
@RussianSphinx – Tweets on Russia
@kremlinologist_ – Tweets on Russia
@siberianlight – Tweets on Russia
@AskSiberia – Tweets on Siberia and the Far East
@globalvoices – For a range of interesting links and articles
@brainpicker – For a range of interesting links and articles
So, as we enter the ‘terrible twos’ – Happy Birthday, fellow #Twitterstorians!
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About the Author:
Dr Kelly Hignett is a historian and a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University. Kelly’s interests primarily relate to communist and post-communist Eastern Europe.
Kelly’s research focuses on the historical analysis of crime and social deviance, particularly in the central and east European region and the former USSR; crime, deviance and underground movements/sub-cultures in communist regimes; the evolving relationship between state and society and experiences of ‘the everyday’ under communism. Her PhD research drew on a combination of archival research and oral testimony to explore the evolution of criminal networks in East Central Europe from the 1970s to the early post-communist period. Kelly has previously published articles in several peer-review journals and edited collections, contributed a series of shorter articles to publications including New Eastern Europe and Jane’s Intelligence Digest and presented numerous papers about her research internationally, in countries including the UK, USA, Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Germany and Morocco.
More recently Kelly has been researching drug abuse and the development of domestic drug markets in late socialist east central Europe. Her next major research project will focus on political repression in communist-era Czechoslovakia.
In addition to continuing to develop her research into crime, deviance and dissent Kelly is also interested in the historical borderlands of Eastern Europe. From initial research into the historical development of crime and attempts to control crime in border regions, she has become increasingly interested in some of the broader historical, political and socio-economic aspects of life among communities who have historically existed on the margins of state control. She plans to develop her initial research into a broader comparative study of this area.
A Few Recent Publications:
K Hignett, ‘Spy Game Diplomacy’, New Eastern Europe, 3/IV (July-September 2012)
K Hignett, ‘Transnational Organised Crime and the Global Village’ in F Allum and S Gilmour (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Transnational Organized Crime, (November 2011):
K Hignett, ‘Crime in Communist and Post-Communist Eastern Europe’, Law, Crime & History, SOLON Online Journal, 1/1 (2011) @
K Hignett, ‘The Changing Face of Organised Crime in Post-Communist East Central Europe’ in Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, 18/1, (April 2010), pp. 71-88
Hignett, ‘Co-option or Criminalisation? The State, Border Communities and Organised Crime’, in M Galeotti (ed), Organised Crime in History (Routledge, 2009)
Major Current/Forthcoming Research Projects:
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