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Victoria Shmidt

Victoria Shmidt Masaryk University, Brno
Eugenic Thinking in the CEE Countries: Never-ending Story of Root Metaphors?
Gerda Henkel Fellowships

Victoria Shmidt  (Master of Social Sciences in social work, Ph.D in social policy) puts together the issue of institutional violence, segregation against various disenfranchised groups (e.g. the Roma, disabled and children), and the legacy of socialist policies. Victoria started her academic career in Russia where she explored the interconnection between social welfare institutions and discourses in order to critically revise as the input of top-to-bottom strategy of reforms typical of post-Soviet world as Human rights initiatives  and the role of    civil society. Her interest to post-Soviet world remains strong  - especially regarding gender-based violence and the policies to prevent and minimize it. Recently, she implemented several projects aimed at recognizing the optional strategies for coping with structural and cultural violence in different post-Soviet states: Belarus, Caucasus countries and Central Asian countries. In 2014 in cooperation with Belarussian activist Irina Solomatina, Victoria conducted the survey among female activists and published the book Female Activism in Belarus: Invisible and Untouchable. Since 2014 Victoria has been cooperating with international learning initiative KNow violence in childhood as an expert of institutional violence in post-socialist countries.

In 2008 Victoria transferred to the Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, and started to elaborate the issue of segregation against the Roma and disabled children in the Czech lands. She practices diverse methods for recognizing the driving forces of path dependence and path departure regarding the intractable practices of surveillance in various realms of social welfare policies. By putting forward epistemic communities and their impact on policy making, Victoria couldn’t avoid the history of eugenically thinking scholars, politicians and practitioners who shaped social  policy  in many CEE countries. In her current project “Child welfare discourses and practices in the Czech lands: the segregation of Roma and disabled children during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries”, Victoria explores the continuities and discontinuities of reproducing eugenic discourse around the Roma, children, and disabled in different realms of public policy over last 150 years.  

Her studies around the Roma and the role of eugenics have turned Victoria’s attention to the issue of international cooperation between eugenically thinking scholars as a driving force of reproducing the eugenic discourse. Precisely during her stay at the Centre of advanced studies in Sofia she will focus on the mutual transfer of knowledge between Bulgarian eugenically thinking scholars and the scholars from other countries. Mostly, she pays attention to the impact of such communication on the policies around the Roma and people with disability.  She intends to tell the history of eugenics not in a country but in the region – putting forward the diverse connections between the scientists from different countries, generations and communities. In contrast to country case study method, focusing on particular region, CEE, extends the options for recognizing the dynamic of transferring ideas and practices. Such shift responds to the demand of historical memory as an agency of epistemic justice.

Selected publications:

"Eugenics and Special Education in the Czech Lands during the Interwar Period: The beginning of segregation against disabled and Roma". Social Work and Society, 2016, 14/2016, 1, 1-18. ISSN 1613-8953. http://www.socwork.net/sws/article/view/461/846

Child Welfare Discourses and Practices in the Czech Lands: the Segregation of Roma and Disabled Children during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Brno: MUNI PRESS, 2015. 130 s.  ISBN 978-80-210-7834-5. doi:10.5817/CZ.MUNI.M210-7834-2015 https://munispace.muni.cz/index.php/munispace/catalog/book/537

SHMIDT, Victoria a Tatjana SHCHURKO. "Children's Rights in Post-Soviet Countries: The Case of Russia and Belarus. International Social Work, London: SAGE, 2014, 57, 5, 447-458. ISSN 0020-8728. doi:10.1177/0020872814537852. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0020872814537852

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