WiP: Geopolitical Orientations of Russia’s Neighbor Populations

CRRC, ARISC and American Councils are proud to present the 13th talk of the Spring 2019 Works-in-Progress Series!

“With Russia or Not? The Geopolitical Orientations of Russia’s Neighboring State Populations”

By John O’Loughlin, Gerard Toal and Kristin Bakke

Date: May 15, 2019, at 18:30 pm
Venue: CRRC Georgia, 5 Chkhikvadze Str. (Former 5 Chavchavadze ave.), I floor.

This project develops a detailed and systematic portrait of the geopolitical orientations of the distinct populations in post-Soviet states bordering Russia (excluding the Baltic States) and systematically explains the reasons for such orientations. The investigators, a US-UK collaborative team of political geographers and political scientists expert in post-Soviet affairs, will conduct a simultaneous set of public opinion surveys in two waves in nine independent states, four existing de facto republics, and two contested territories within Ukraine. The project employs a mixed-methods approach that combines the examination of television programming in all the study sites and quantitative analysis of a two-wave survey panel. The goal of the project is to understand the popular and everyday geopolitics of people in the successor states of the former Soviet Union as their governments negotiate imperial legacies, economic interdependence, and dynamic geopolitical competition and change. Distinct from standard international relations approaches —which tend to focus on elite politics within states and large state geopolitical competition over these states (both de jure and de facto)—the project seeks to understand the attitudes and beliefs of ordinary residents of these polities, to both domestic and foreign politics.

John O’Loughlin is a political geographer whose research interests are in climate change and conflict, as well as in the political geography of the post-Soviet Union (geopolitical orientations, Eurasian de facto-states, ethno-territorial nationalisms and post conflict societies). He has also published on the diffusion of democracy, electoral geography, the geography of conflict, and the political geography of Nazi Germany. At CU-Boulder,he teaches undergraduate classes in Political Geography, Geographies of Global Change, and the Geography of the former Soviet Union, and graduate classes in Political Geography and Nationalism.

Dr. Gerard Toal (Gearóid Ó Tuathail) is Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. He received a Ph. D. in Geography from Syracuse University in 1989. Dr Toal is an author of over a hundred peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters on territorial conflicts, US foreign policy, de facto states, popular culture, media and critical geopolitics. He is the recipient of multiple research grants from the US National Science Foundation (NSF). His co-authored book Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal (Oxford University Press, 2011) won the Julian Minghi Distinguished Book Award in 2012. His latest book Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest for Ukraine and the Caucasus (Oxford University Press, 2017) won the International Studies Association’s ENMIA Distinguished Book Award for 2019. Dr Toal is currently working on a NSF research project that examines the geopolitical orientations of the populations of fifteen different states (recognized and unrecognized) beyond Russia in post-Soviet space. He is also writing a theory book on critical geopolitics amidst contemporary great power competition and climate change.

Kristin M. Bakke is Professor in Political Science and International Relations at University College London (UCL), and Associate Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO). At UCL, she is a member of the Conflict & Change research cluster and Director for Global Security at the Global Governance Institute. Focusing on political violence, Professor Bakke’s research explores how states respond to opposition within their borders, the dynamics of violence in self-determination struggles, and post-war state building. She draws on both quantitative and qualitative methods, including surveys and fieldwork in Northern Ireland, India, Guatemala, Canada, and post-Soviet states and de facto states. Her book Decentralization and Intrastate Struggles: Chechnya, Punjab and Québec (Cambridge University Press, 2015) received the Conflict Research Society’s Book of the Year Award in 2016. Her research has been published in journals such as Annals of American Association of Geographers, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Perspectives on Politics, Political Geography, and World Politics. Her work has been supported by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK, the National Science Foundation in the US, and the Norwegian Research Council.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the CRRC office at 5 Chkhikvadze Str. It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

PRIVACY POLICY: In order to assure the free and open discussion of ideas and sensitive issues, unless otherwise specified the WiP series holds to the Chatham House Rule: participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed, without the explicit permission of said speaker(s) or participant(s) in the press or other public media. Journalists may attend the sessions, but the contents are not for publication or broadcast without the explicit permission of the speaker(s). This is to enable all involved to openly discuss their views in private while allowing the topic and nature of the debate to be made public and contribute to the broader scholarly and academic conversation.