As an academic who does a fair amount of media work – mainly radio commentary on current events which touch on my areas of research and teaching expertise – I often finish an interview or submit an op-ed piece feeling that I have more to say that doesn’t fit within the time or word length constraints I am given, or that might not make sense to the particular audience I was addressing. With this blog I would like to create a space to explore further some of those ideas, as well as to try out aspects of research projects I am working on and reflect on teaching and the insights that come from interacting with students and trying to figure out, together, how to interpret the world around us, using the academic tools that we craft and refine every day.
My academic interests began with a very conventional interest in a topic of great importance at the time – Soviet nuclear weapons (ballistic missile defence policy to be more precise) during the height of the Cold War. Those interests began to expand in the early 1990s, when I noticed that all the uniformed officials who check passports in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport changed from being only men to being only women. My curiosity was piqued, and in beginning to ask what was going on here and why, I started down the path of research projects that led me increasingly towards feminist and gender-focussed approaches. Through an interest in women in the Russian armed forces I developed a fascination with women in state and then non-state militaries, and then more broadly still with the way that conflicts – and the way that we think about conflicts – is gendered. My current project – a book length exploration of the Ukraine crisis from the perspective of Feminist Security Studies – brings together my continuing interest in issues of security and politics related to Russia and its immediate neighbours with my focus on gender.
Most of my media work is linked to my expertise on Russia – anytime Putin does something that makes headlines in the West, I usually get a request for commentary. But since the autumn of 2016, my interest in gender and my US citizenship have opened up a new line of commentary on the US presidential elections and now, on Trump and the gendered dimensions of his rhetoric and policies.
This blog – like my research and my media work – is likely to go in many different directions, but I hope that fellow academics and others may find some things of interest here.