1st Edition

Researching in the Former Soviet Union Stories from the Field

    Written for early-career scholars still in the planning stages of their research, this book explores some of the challenges researchers face when conducting fieldwork in the former Soviet region. It addresses key questions, including: What difficulties do scholars, especially females, encounter when researching in the region? How does an early-career scholars’ positionality – especially their nationality, ethnicity, and sexuality – contribute to their experiences of inclusion, exclusion, and access while conducting fieldwork? How do early-career scholars navigate issues of personal safety in the field? How do junior academics successfully conduct high-risk research? The book includes contributors from both the region and Western countries, paying particular attention to the ways researchers’ subjectivities shape how they are received in the region, which, in turn, influence how they write about and disseminate their research. The book also explores ways to continue research away from the field through the use of digital methods when physical access is not possible.


    Dr. Hélène Thibault

    Introduction: The Challenges of Fieldwork in Post-Soviet Societies

    Jasmin Dall’Agnola

    Part I: Stories from the Post-Soviet Field

    Chapter 1- Understanding and Managing One’s Own Mistrust: The Value of Embodied Ethnography during Fieldwork in a Contested Postwar Polity

    Andrea Peinhopf

    Chapter 2- Doing Fieldwork (Not Quite) at Home: Reflecting on an Expat’s Positionality in Lithuania

    Rasa Kamarauskaitė

    Chapter 3- A Woman of Her Word Prepared for the Worst: Researching Drug Trafficking in Kazakhstan

    Zhaniya Turlubekova

    Part II: Stories from the Hybrid Field

    Chapter 4- "Hanging Out" with the Boys: The Female Participant Observer in a Male-Dominated Group

    Abigail Karas

    Chapter 5- Balancing Diasporic Ties and Research: A Ukrainian-Canadian’s Reflection on Fieldwork in Ukraine

    Marnie Howlett

    Part III: Stories from the Digital Field

    Chapter 6- Listening and Its Limits: Reflections on Fieldwork in/on Kyrgyzstan

    Colleen Wood

    Chapter 7- The Academic Lion Skin: Balancing Doctoral Research with Motherhood

    Ruta Skriptaite

    Afterword: Gaining Access to the Field

    Allyson Edwards


    Jasmin Dall’Agnola is an Associated Research Fellow at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Academy in Bishkek. Her research centers on the relationship between gender, governance, and technology in post-Soviet Central Asia. She has been awarded a prestigious two-year, full-time Postdoc. Mobility Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation, to explore the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on smart city technologies in Central Asia. In her role as founder and acting chair of the Eurasian, East and Central European Studies Women Academics Forum (EECES WAF), Jasmin is involved in various collaborative research and networking endeavors to address gender disparity in academia.

    Allyson Edwards research examines Militarism in Post-Soviet Russia, more specifically, the mechanisms behind latent militarization between 1990 and 2000. She is currently a lecturer in Global History at Bath Spa University and plays a wider role in the academic community as Vice-Chair of the EECES WAF. She specializes in topics related to militarism, memory, education, and parades in the Russian/Eurasian space.

    Marnie Howlett is a Departmental Lecturer in Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. She has held Fellowships supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies, and the John Fell Fund. Marnie was a Deputy Editor for Millennium: Journal of International Studies, vol. 48 and currently sits on the editorial board for Qualitative Research. Her research centers on the intersection of nationalism, geopolitics, and cartography within the former Soviet Union, particularly Ukraine.