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Introducing: Morena Skalamera

Morena Skalamera is Assistant Professor of Russian and International Studies. She is a familiar face at Leiden University since August 2018. Morena introduces herself below.

After extensive time spent on the Central Asian steppe, in the Far East, and the East Coast of North America, Leiden University represents a European homecoming for me.  It also sits at the vital juncture of several geographic trajectories important to my research and work. 

I am currently completing a book that highlights some critical issues in the Eurasian-European energy nexus. I argue that while natural gas interdependence in Eurasia is most often conceptualized in terms of material sources of interest, profit and power, non-material sources of change are generally overlooked. It does not contend that material incentives —profit and power - are insignificant; instead, it asserts that these material incentives are mediated by non-material sources of change—cultural identity, new norms and ideas that account for the formation of new dominant narratives. These, in turn, explain large empirical variation in levels of natural gas interdependence in Eurasia, across nations and over time. This book project flows naturally from my joint expertise in EU‐Russian, Sino‐Russian, and Central Asian energy relations.

Before joining the faculty at Leiden University I was a Postdoctoral fellow with the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard Kennedy School, I worked and conducted fieldwork in a variety of places across Eurasia, and held a number of postdoctoral appointments including at the Moscow’s Higher School of Economics and Peking University in China.

I have been in Leiden since August 2018 and, thus, am not exactly new to the Huizinga complex. Working as a Lecturer in Russian and International Studies teaching on the BAIS, MAIR, and Russian Studies has given me the opportunity to interact with a wide array of students and scholars in Leiden and the Hague.  I offer a broad range of courses covering everything from the Geopolitics of Energy, the Politics of Climate Change and Sustainability, the Political Economy of Eurasia, the Practice of Russian Language, and Thesis Writing Seminars.

My academic interests lie in the political economy of the low carbon transition, the geopolitics of energy in Eurasia, and cross-border energy trade. I have published in leading journals in the energy and the post-soviet policy field, such as Energy Research in Social Science, or Post-Soviet Affairs, but also outlets geared toward policy impact, such as Foreign Affairs.

On a more personal note, since moving to Leiden I have drastically improved my biking skills, got fond of Sinterklaas and Stroopwafels, while my little nephew has dreamt about playing for Ajax ever since I made my way here. Dealing with Dutch-language sounds (and pronouncing Scheveningen or Groningen) is still a work in progress for me and my husband, who hopes to join me here soon.

By being here, I do hope to find ways to work with my colleagues and take part in the exciting intellectual life of the university. But above all, I suppose, I look forward to sharing my passion for learning and making a positive difference in the life of young students, and continue to draw inspiration from my colleagues in my own academic path.   

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