I am especially interested in the grassroots mechanisms underpinning the popular support given to illiberal projects, as well as of the cultural products and social practices that structure illiberal communities.
This work has led me to extend my research gaze from Russia to Europe. I am currently investigating France’s and US's grassroots illiberal transformations. Holding a BA and an MA in Central European History, I have also long followed the evolution of the region. My MA thesis, written in 1996, was devoted to what would later become Central Europe’s first illiberal wave: nostalgia for the idea of Mitteleuropa. I have now reactivated that aspect of my research, conducting my first fieldwork in the Balkans in 2022.
A third line of research, I work on the notion of social sustainability of Russian Arctic cities by looking at their urban regimes, migration policies, the way local identities are built and negotiated, and how multiethnicity is managed. My research is based on yearly fieldwork conducted in Russia’s main Arctic cities between 2013 and 2018: Murmansk and the surrounding Kola Peninsula mining cities, Arkhangelsk, Severodvinsk, Naryan Mar, Vorkuta, Salekhard, Norilsk, Dudinka, Yakutsk, and Mirnyi.
I am currently beginning a new project on Arctic memorialization, looking at how sites of memory (lieux de memoire) about Arctic conquest, as well as WWI and WWII memorials, are preserved by Arctic nations.
For two decades, I worked on Central Asia, especially on Kazakhstan, studying the region’s nationhood constructions and political trajectories, as well as the regional context and Central Asia’s relationship with China and Russia.
I was Associate Director and then Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at GW for respectively 5 and 4 years. I founded there the Central Asia Program, the Russia Program, the Illiberalism Studies Program, and have been co-Director of PONARS since 2016.