The University of Eastern Finland’s Joensuu campus is located in the North Karelia region, less than 100 km from the Finnish-Russian border, at 1300 kilometres the longest border between the EU and Russia.

The University has therefore always had a strong tradition of border studies and multidisciplinary research on Russia. Themes such as cross-border cooperation, migration, Karelia, Finnic minorities, Russian and finno-ugric culture, and the history of the Russian-Swedish and Russian-Finnish borderlands have always featured high on the University’s research agenda.

Local and regional social, economic, and political transformation have also been priority research areas since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. UEF’s expertise in border studies is now applied well beyond the Finnish-Russian border, to the various internal and external borders of the European Union, the new borders of the former Soviet Union, and beyond to borders in Africa, Asia and North America.

The VERA Centre was founded in 2011 in order to coordinate, enhance and promote the activities of the various research groups working in these areas across the University. The name ‘VERA' comes from a combination of two Finnish words: ‘Venäjä' meaning Russia and 'raja' which means border, summing up the Centre's thematic focus. It acts as a hub for UEF researchers and their national and international collaborators to develop new research projects, explore links between existing projects, and to facilitate international participation and raise the impact of our research. The Centre organizes or supports regular events from small-scale workshops to large conferences.

For more information on the VERA Centre and its activities, please explore our website and Facebook page or contact Jeremy Smith (


VERA Conference 2019: “From deconstructing to constructing walls: 30 years after Berlin” will be held on 20.-21.11.2019 in Joensuu, in the Aurora Building Room AU203-204.

The conference includes keynote talks by Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary (Grenoble), Judith Pallot (Oxford), and Tatiana Romanova (HSE St Petersburg), and five panels of papers. The preliminary programme will be available here in early October. Participation is free of charge and open to all.

In order to register for the conference, please email Minna Piipponen (