Book jacket design for Tomas Cizek's The Ruse
Supervisor: Lucan Way
Working Article Version: “Does Prominence Abroad Protest Political Opposition Leaders from Autocratic Repression?”
Versions Workshopped: "Autocrats, Job Security, and Co-optation: Theory and Dataset," Carnegie Russian Politics Workshop at Columbia University's Harriman Institute, October 2017; "Afraid of Graffiti: Soft Protest and Threat Perceptions in Authoritarian States,” American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting, Sept 2015; “Authoritarian Co-optation of Soft Protest: Post-Soviet Graffiti from 2011-2016,” The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of International Relations, January 2017; “Authoritarian Co-optation of Dissent: Theory and Dataset,” The Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations Seminar Series, March 2017.
Lerner, Alexis, et al. 2017. "Mitigating the Risks of Resource Extraction for Industrial Actors and Northern Indigenous Peoples." Arctic Review on Law and Politics, vol. 8: 23-51.
Zimberg, Alexis. 2012. “The Spray Can is Mightier than the Sword: Street art as a Medium for Political Discourse in the Post-Soviet Region.” Master's Thesis. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University.
1. The Application of Social Scientific Methods to Oral Histories of the Holocaust
Description: The question of how national narratives impact individual memories has been widely debated in the fields of political science and history, with scholars like Aaron Beim (2007) and Peter Verovšek (2015) claiming that individual memories are shaped by collective memory and Ron Eyerman arguing that collective memories are conceptually different than individual memories (2001). However, these perspectives overlook the effect of post-war propaganda on trauma survivors with fragmented personal memories. This paper addresses the issue of how national narratives and assimilation influence how individuals recall traumatic events. Specifically, I compare how Jewish adults with varied post-war migration trajectories speak about their experience as children during the Holocaust, in order to show the impact of national narratives on individual memories.
Using the Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, I identify quantitatively the conjunction of proper nouns and emotional responses, in order to articulate the adult’s memory of who helped and hurt them during the war, positioning those adults that stayed in the Soviet Union after 1945 against those that left for the United States. I argue that child survivors that remained in the Soviet Union after the Holocaust share individual memories that appear to be greatly influenced by the national narrative. Alternatively, Soviet Jews who migrated to America are less likely to espouse the collective memory of their former homeland, instead undergoing the cultural immersion necessary to interpret the symbols and narratives of American Jewish culture. By closely examining memories of war, this project can help scholars to better understand how state-level narratives and migration trajectories influence how individual members of similar minority groups remember shared experiences differently.
Versions Workshopped: The 12th Annual Graduate Conference in Political Science, International Relations, and Public Policy, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dec 2016; The Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, December 2016; “Who is to Blame? Conflicting claims of perpetrator, victor, and victim in Soviet testimony,” Association for Jewish Studies Annual Meeting, December 2015; University of Toronto Interdisciplinary Working Group on the Holocaust, Fall 2015.
2. The Co-optation of Dissent in Hybrid States
Abstract: As the Director of Post-Soviet Graffiti, Alexis Lerner spent 2009-2017 walking the post-Soviet and post-Communist region’s alleys and underpasses, interviewing artists and activists while cataloguing political, public graffiti. In Moscow, she observed a shift in the spring of 2012: political expression that was once critical, satirical, and intertextual became curated, pro-state, and notably nostalgic for Soviet symbols and the Russian military’s historic operations. The platforms for graffiti and public expression also changed from illegal scrawls and anonymous stencils on downtown bus-stops to seven-story murals adorned with governmental seals. In this piece, Lerner explores co-optation as an effective protest management tool used by hybrid states in order to demonstrate state capacity, to neutralize a non-violent protest movement, and to create a façade of political pluralism.
Publication: "The Co-optation of Dissent in Hybrid States: Post-Soviet Graffiti in Moscow." Under Review as of April 2018.
Versions Workshopped: "Post-Soviet Graffiti: Co-optation in Authoritarian States," at Columbia University's Harriman Institute on February 7th 2018. "The Co-optation of Post-Soviet Graffiti: The Case of Moscow," at the Carnegie Corporation of New York's Harriman Institute Workshop on February 23rd 2018.