Current Institutional Affiliation
Lecturer, Politics, Sarah Lawrence College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Political Science, City University of New York (CUNY) / Graduate Center
Electoral Systems, Political Parties, and Stability of the Ethnofederal State: The Case of Russia

Ethnofederal institutions have been introduced by many ethnically heterogeneous states to moderate ethnic conflict by providing ethnic minorities with political representation and to minimize their fear of assimilation. However, critics of ethnoterritorial autonomy argue that ethnofederal states are inherently unstable because ethnically defined territorial autonomy institutionalizes ethnic differences and provides ethnoregional elites with the willingness and capacity to challenge the federal center and pursue regional nationalization. Nationalization facilitates separate community imagining, reducing people's polity-wide identity. Ethnofederal institutional design, therefore, creates smaller nation-states within the ethnofederal state which could lead to political instability, secessionist movements, and territorial disintegration. The literature on federalism also warns against ethnofederal institutional design because it prevents the formation of integrated federal political parties and encourages intransigent ethnoregional parties. This dissertation will attempt to show, with a medium-n study of ethnofederal stability, that while ethnofederal institutions have destabilizing tendencies, ethnoregional parties exacerbate and integrated federal parties moderate and localize their effect. A case study of Russia, the largest and most complex existing ethnofederation, will then seek to identify the reasons why parties have this effect through field research on the ways that parties manage tensions between the center and ethnoregional units.The Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of Russian Academy of Sciences will serve as my host institution.