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Lecture | Lunch Research Seminar

Violence and Transformation: The Political Economy of Russia’s War against Ukraine

Friday 23 February 2024

Verbarium (1.04, first floor)


All are welcome, however please register in advance at l-peg@hum.leidenuniv.nl to receive a copy of the paper and lunch.


This project investigates how the war against Ukraine is transforming the state-society complex in Russia. It opens research avenues by proposing an original framework for understanding the relationship between violence and political economy. Conventionally, violence is not considered to be a central theme in the study of IPE. Whether it is treated as a temporary exogeneous shock or disregarded as an aspect of conflict altogether, violence makes rare appearances in the authoritative textbooks in the field. To overcome this gap and engage in a theoretically-informed discussion about the implications of Russia’s war, this project puts violence front and centre in the analysis of political economy. Specifically, the research closely examines three analytical angles: (1) violence as enterprise; (2) violence as labour; and (3) violence as ideology. Firstly, the ongoing violence acquires the features of enterprise in the context of proliferating public-private partnerships (PPPs). The central government has effectively ceded its monopoly on violence to share it in various PPPs. Secondly, the commodification of violence during the war closely resonates with the material structures of inequality in Russia. Specifically, committing violence on the frontline has come to represent a high-paying, high-risk, high-impact labour activity that draws disproportionately on populations in economically depressed regions and among racialised minorities. Thirdly, during the war violence has come to the forefront of state ideology in a process that reverberates across all spheres of social life. As a first step in a broader research agenda, the project aims to shed light on the internal logic of ongoing societal transformations in Russia that can feed into subsequent research that provides more accurate measures of the exact scope and amplitude of the studied phenomena.

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