Jessica Pisano

Affiliated Fellow
Period of Stay: 
September 2015 - June 2016
Political Science
The New School, New York, US
Project Title: 
Political Theater: Coercion and Cooperation in Performances of Democracy
Project Abstract: 

Traditional regime-type designations—democracy, authoritarianism, and their hybrid cousins—help us think about how power is enacted in relationships between states and society, but they also reify state-society relationships as homogenous across territory and coextensive with state boundaries. My project reexamines state-society relationships in the contexts of contemporary Russia and Ukraine. Drawing on extensive fieldwork-based research, my manuscript analyzes the political economy of popular participation in imitations of democratic institutions, from staged electoral contests to elite-driven social movements. In these contexts, far from simply reproducing elements of the Soviet past, such performances articulate a distinct politics that expresses a global shift in the configuration of state and capital. Using the concept of political theater, I show how spatial variation in the ways individuals experience interaction with state agents can help us understand how and where fractures develop in public understandings of political legitimacy--and how ordinary people even may come to disagree about the proper boundaries of the polity.

File Attachments