Anastasya Astapova

Anastasya Astapova_Ku instituut







Associate Professor of Folkloristics

Anastasiya Astapova has started her academic career with a PhD project on post-socialist humor and genres of political self-expression under authoritarianism based on ethnographic fieldwork in Belarus. Along with other peer-reviewed publications, this research culminated in a monograph, Humor and Rumor in the Post-Soviet Authoritarian State, largely completed during my Swedish Institute postdoctoral fellowship at Uppsala University. This research responded to the massive protests in Belarus in 2020 and was recognized with several awards (e.g., the award for the best publication of the Institute of Culture Research and Arts, University of Tartu; Annual Prize in Estonian Folkloristics, etc.). Astapova’s research in humor continues in various international humor research projects.

Astapova’s post-doctoral research interests widened to include the study of refugees, asylum-seekers, and ethnic minorities—all by means of ethnography, with a particular focus on grassroots ethnic integration and language socialization practices. After completing a PhD, she also became a board member of the COST project “Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories”, within which, in addition to multiple papers, she completed a co-edited collection of articles “Conspiracy Theories in Eastern Europe: Tropes and Trends” and a co-authored monograph “Conspiracy Theories and the Nordic Countries.” In 2021, Astapova started her current Estonian Science Foundation project on the pandemic conspiracy theories.


Selected publications


(2021) Astapova, A. Humor and Rumor in the Post-Soviet Authoritarian State. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

(2021) Astapova, A., E. Bergmann, A. Dyrendal A. Rabo, K. Rasmussen, H. Thorisdottir. Conspiracy Theories and the Nordic Countries. London and New York: Routledge.

(2020) Astapova A., C. Pintilescu, O. Colacel, and T. Scheibner (eds.). Conspiracy Theories in Eastern Europe: Tropes and Trends. London and New York: Routledge.

(2018) The First Book of Jewish Jokes. The Collection of L.M. Büschenthal. Edited by E. Oring. With annotations by A. Astapova, T. Sebba-Elran, E. Oring, D. Ben-Amos, L. Privalskaya, and I. Akerbergs. Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.


Articles in peer-reviewed journals:

Fiadotava, A.; Astapova, A.; Hendershott, R.; McKinnon, M.; Jürgens, A. (2023). Injecting fun? Humour, Conspiracy Theory and (Anti)vaccination Discourse in Popular Media. Public Understanding of Science 32 (5), 622−640.

Astapova, A. (2023). Russophones’ Attitudes Towards Ukrainian Refugees in Estonia. Social Anthropology 31 (2), 148−150.

Astapova, A. (2023). Conspiratorial Thinking among Russian Speakers in Estonia: From COVID-19 to the War in Ukraine. Journal of American Folklore 136 (542), 361−385.

Astapova, A. (2023). Ethnic Segregation of Consumption in Estonia: Mythologies and Practices. Journal of Baltic Studies. DOI: 10.1080/01629778.2023.2276819.

Astapova, A. (2022). Vaccine Hesitancy Counter Memes. Journal of American Folklore 135(538): 466-470.

Astapova, A.; Navumau, V.; Nizhnikau, R.; Polishchuk, L. (2022). Cooptation of Civil Society by Authoritarian Regime: The Case of Belarus. Europe Asia Studies 74(1): 1-30.

Astapova, A. (2021). Estonian-Russian Language Club as a Venue for Grassroots Ethnic Integration. Nationalities Papers: 1–17.

Astapova, A. (2020). Soviet Meta-jokes: Tradition and Continuity. The European Journal of Humour Research 8(3): 60–82.

Astapova, A. (2020). Ferroconcrete Cases, Sausage Migrants, and Santa Barbara: Self-reflexive Metaphors among Russian-speaking Refugees in Estonia. Journal of Baltic Studies 51(1): 87–103.

Astapova, A., Navumau V. (2018). Veyshnoria: A Fake Country in the Midst of Real Information Warfare. Journal of American Folklore, 131(522): 435–443.

Astapova, A. (2017). When the President Comes: Potemkin Order as an Alternative to Democracy in Belarus. Ethnologia Europaea 47(2): 57–71.

Astapova, A. (2017). Rumor, Humor, and Other Forms of Election Folklore in Non-Democratic Societies: The Case of Belarus. Folklore 69: 15–48.

Astapova, A. (2017). In Search for Truth: Surveillance Rumors and Vernacular Panopticon in Belarus. Journal of American Folklore 130(517): 276–304.

Astapova, A. (2015). Why All Dictators Have Moustaches: Political Jokes in Contemporary Belarus. HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 28(1): 71–91.


Book chapters:

Astapova, A. (2022). In Quest of the Lost Masterpieces, Ethnic Identity, and Democracy: The Belarusian Case. In M. Bowman, Ü. Valk (eds.) Contesting Authority: Vernacular Knowledge and Alternative Beliefs. Equinox: 25-46.

Astapova, A. (2022). In Pursuit of Nationhood: The Search for Lost Manuscripts in Post-Soviet Countries. In B. Carver, D. Craciun, T. Hristov (eds). Plots: Literary Forms and Contemporary Culture. Routledge, 54-71.

Astapova, A. (2020). Chernobyl Conspiracy Theories: From American Sabotage to the Biggest Bluff of the Century. In Anastasiya Astapova, Corneliu Pintilescu, Onoriu Colacel, and Tamas Scheibner (eds.). Conspiracy Theories in Eastern Europe: Tropes and Trends. Routledge, 29-47.

Astapova, A., Pintilescu, C., Colacel, O.; Scheibner, T. (2020). Introduction. In: A. Astapova, C. Pintilescu, O. Colacel, and T. Scheibner (eds.). Conspiracy Theories in Eastern Europe: Tropes and Trends. Routledge, 1-26.

Astapova, A. (2020). Rumours, Urban Legends, and the Verbal Transmission of Conspiracy Theories. In Butter, Michael and Peter Knight (eds). Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories. Routledge, 391-400.

Astapova, A. (2019). He Who Must not be Named: (Nick)names for the Authoritarian Leader. In P. Hakamies and A. Heimo (eds.) Folkloristics in the Digital Age. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia; Academia Scientiarum Fennica, FF Communications 513, 56–72.

Astapova, A. (2019). How to Pronounce “Belarusian”? Negotiating Identity through Naming. In A. Polese, J. Morris, E. Pawlusz and O. Seliverstova (eds.) The National in Everyday Life. Identity and Nation-Building in Post-Socialist Life. London and New York: Routledge, 131–145.



Principal/senior investigator:

2022–2025 Estonian Research Council “COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories: Contents, Channels, and Target Groups”, principal investigator.

2022–2024 CELSA “Humour and Conflict in the Public Sphere: Communication Styles, Humour Controversies and Contested Freedoms in Contemporary Europe”, project manager.

2018–2021 Estonian Research Council “Performative Negotiations of Belonging in Contemporary Estonia”, senior research staff.

2016 Tartu University basic funding “Folkloristic Perspectives on Asylum-seekers in Estonia: From Vernacular Debates to Refugees’ Experiences”.

Board member:

2016–2020 CA15101 COST Action “Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories”


2022–2025 ENLIGHT RISE “HACIDA: Humor and Conflict in the Digital Age”

2022–2024 US Embassy in Estonia “Countering Disinformation and Increasing Media Literacy among Russian-speaking Communities in Estonia”

2021–2023 Erasmus “EVIDENCE: Promoting students’ key competences for making evidence-based decisions on controversial socio-scientific issues” 2012–2015 Estonian Research Council “Tradition, Creativity and Society: Minorities and Alternative Discourses”

2016–2018 European Commission “SISUMMA, Social Initiative of Support to Minorities through Media-Activism”


Courses in the University of Tartu:

Doctoral Seminar in Ethnology and Folkloristics

Methods of Data Collection and Analysis

Vernacular Expressions and Analytic Categories

Theoretical Conceptualizations of Folklore and Cultural Heritage

Migration and Refugees

Political Folklore and Nationalism

International Folkloristics


More information: ETIS profile