Dissertation Project

My dissertation titled "Morality, Politics and Ecological Inaction in Russia"  studies environmental discourses, inequality, deforestation, and the construction of alternative environmental knowledge. 

In the first two chapters, I evaluate how modern Russia's authoritarian populist regime shapes and promulgates the discourse on deforestation. I study this problem on two levels. First, the macro, federal level, explains the role of resource nationalism, authoritarian populism, and state agenda in the formation of the blame for the forest loss. Second, the micro, interpersonal, level helps understand the role of culture, ideology, and science-based knowledge in the construction of alternative environmental knowledge. In this project, I evaluate logging and deforestation and analyze their underlying cultural and socio-economic rationale through field research focused on logging industry workers, as well as through critical discourse analysis focused on federal newspaper publications.  The first dissertation chapter is currently under review.

Map of Russia's Forest Loss. Brown-Fires, Green-Logging. Based on data from the Global Forest Watch.

Photos from my Dissertation fieldwork

In my third dissertation chapter, I expand beyond the scope of Russia’s logging and forestry industry and investigate broader national issues of ethnicity-centered environmental inequality, which build off of the broader historical processes of settler colonialism. This chapter is guided by the central question: do more ethnically non-Russian regions experience more environmental pollution compared to more ethnically Russian regions?  This question is addressed empirically through the statistical analysis of publically available data from Russia, specifically the Rosstat and Census data.

Previously Published Work

Previously I published a research article on informal exchanges and reciprocity in Russia. Research Article "What Does a “Thank you” Cost? Informal Exchange and the Case of “Brift” in Contemporary Russia", was published in Qualitative Sociology in 2021.

This article addresses the complex nature of informal exchange in contemporary Russia. I borrow the term “brift” from Abel Polese in order to analyze a hybrid nature of informal transactions that have a ternary nature embodying bribery, gift-giving, and a mechanism of building social capital. While there exists a wealth of studies on informal exchange in Post-Soviet states and modern Russia, the question of how participants of the exchange make sense of the transactions and conditions of the exchange, how they morally and mentally estimate the value and price of the favors, and how they choose appropriate items for reciprocating for the favors still remains understudied. The study addresses this theoretical dilemma and provides a detailed investigation of the meaning-making process intrinsic to this type of informal transaction. The article provides an analysis of the in-depth interviews with citizens of St. Petersburg and demonstrates the complexity of the cognitive work of calculating the right price and estimating the proper value and fitness of the items to be used in the brift transactions. This research generally points to the need for greater sensitivity to intricacies of meaning, practice, and cognitive work that saturate informal exchange, and further calls for a wider acceptance of the concept of brift.