Associate Professor

I joined the department in 2002 after completing my PhD at Stanford University. I teach courses in international relations and comparative politics. My regional area of expertise is Russia and the former Soviet Union, and my major research interests include democratization, human rights, gender politics, the politics of international democracy assistance, and NGO activism in both domestic and transnational politics.

My most recent book, called Courting Gender Justice: Russia, Turkey, and The European Court of Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2019), is a collaboration with Valerie Sperling and Melike Sayoglu of Clark University. It investigates the puzzling question of why there are so few gender discrimination cases being submitted to the European Court of Human Rights from the Council of Europe states in general, and Russia in particular, despite tens of thousands of other types of case applications from Russia and plenty of gender discrimination taking place in the country. With comparative analysis of gender discrimination cases and violations in Turkey, as well as LGBT discrimination cases emerging from both countries, the analysis identifies the key roles of activist lawyers who are specially trained in gender discrimination and the ECtHR, as well as systematic data-gathering to substantiate discrimination claims, in the rare successful cases.

My 2006 book from Stanford University Press was based on extensive interview research, concerning the influence of foreign assistance programs on the development of women’s and human rights NGOs in Russia. I also published a book, co-edited with colleague Kathryn Harrison, on the comparative politics of climate policies (MIT Press, 2010). Current ongoing research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, examines Russian human rights NGOs’ interactions with the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights, and the impact of those interactions on NGOs themselves and human rights practices in Russia.

The second book project, with research funded by SSHRC, and co-authored with Laura Henry of Bowdoin College, explores how NGOs from the BRICS countries are engaging with new, multistakeholder global governance initiatives on climate, forest certification, corporate social responsibility, and HIV/AIDS. Based on in-depth field research in Russia and secondary research on the other BRICS countries, the book examines variations in NGO participation in global governance initiatives, as well as how NGOs mediate their diverse domestic contexts in implementing global initiative principles and policies.

I am working with a number of scholars from North America and Europe to build a network called Activists in International Courts, linking scholars and human rights practitioners interested in questions of legal mobilization by NGOs and activist lawyers in international human rights courts. This activity began in May 2017 with a workshop on Legal Mobilization in International Human Rights Courts held at UBC and funded by a SSHRC Connection Grant, and has recently been supported through a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (2019-2022). More information about the network is available on the network website.

Winter 2020

POLI325 Communist and Post-Communist Politics Sections

An examination of the origins, development, and demise of Communist political systems, as well as the nature of post-Communist politics, with special emphasis on the Soviet Union and its successor states.

Winter 2020

POLI334 Comparative Democratization Sections

Literatures and theories on regime democratization around the world; the roles of political, economic, social, and international factors in encouraging or impeding democratization.

Winter 2020

POLI511A Core Seminar in Comparative Government and Politics - CORE CMP GOV&POL Sections

Most Recent Course Syllabi

Poli 511A Syllabus 2020-2021 (Core Graduate Seminar in Comparative Politics)

Poli-464A-syllabus-2019-20 (NGOs in International Politics)

Poli 423D Syllabus 2018-19 (Comparative Democratization — undergraduate)

Poli 516A Syllabus 2018-19 (Comparative Democratization — graduate)

Poli 390 Syllabus 2017-18 (3rd-Year Honours Seminar)

Poli 334 Syllabus 2015-16 (Comparative Democratization)


I am most interested in supervising student theses on topics of democratization, authoritarianism, civil society, feminist activism, Russian/ post-Communist politics, Western aid, mobilization by activists in international human rights tribunals, and NGOs in global politics.

Current and recent Postdoctoral supervisions:

  • Dr. Catherine Hecht, SSHRC grant-funded fellowship (2017)
  • Dr. Freek van der Vet, Finnish postdoctoral fellowship (2016-2017)
  • Dr. Lyndsay Hayhurst, SSHRC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2015)

Current and recent PhD supervisions:

  • Mendee Jargalsaikhan – explaining Mongolia as an outlier for democratization among small Asian communist states.
  • Priya Bala-Miller – explaining when large institutional investors engage corporations on human rights conduct in conflict zones.
  • Yana Gorokhovskaia (PhD 2016) — Elections, political participation, and authoritarian responsiveness in Russia.
  • Anastasia Salnykova (PhD 2015) – deliberative capacity in ethnically divided democracies, focusing on Ukraine as a case.
  • Ana Lukatela (PhD 2014) — gender mainstreaming policies in United Nations agencies’ country teams in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania.
  • Kristi Kenyon (PhD 2013) — why NGOs choose to frame health issues as human rights issues, examining African HIV/ AIDS NGOs as cases.
  • Olga Beznosova (PhD 2013) — opposition and dissent in petro-states, focusing on Russia as a case.
  • Catherine Hecht (PhD 2012) — Inclusiveness and status in international organizations: Cases of democratic norm development and implementation in the UN and CSCE/OSCE.

Current and recent MA supervisions:

  • Byron Haworth (MA 2016) — Taking class seriously: alternatives to income-based measures of class.
  • Gabrielle John (MA 2015) — how perceptions of trauma influence transitional justice in post-conflict Guatemala.
  • Stephanie Meitz (MA 2015) — Canada’s compliance with CEDAW on status and rights of Canadian women.
  • Lynn Hancock (MA 2012) – explaining variations in levels of academic dissent in surrounding countries in the wake of the Arab Spring.
  • Ryan Freiburger (MA 2010) — exploring relationship between strength of civil society and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Daria Boltokova (MA 2009) — explaining variations in indigenous language revival across Russia’s national republics.
  • Priya Bala-Miller (MA 2009) — varying forms of mobilization and representation and their relationship to “voice accountability” in internet advocacy campaigns.
  • Freddy Osorio-Ramirez (MA 2008) — investigating the relationship between legitimacy and democratic stability, examining Ecuador as a case.
  • Melanie Butler (MA 2008) — Orientalist narratives of national and individual identity in Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.
  • Jessica Pautsch (MA 2007) — the coming crisis of environmental refugees and why states have not reacted.
  • Rodolfo Franco (MA 2006) — explaining the relative strength of democracy norms in regional organizations (examining the OAS primarily, with comparison to the EU, ASEAN, and African Union).
  • Kristin Cavoukian (MA 2006) — nationalist struggles of “third” ethnic groups, caught between two larger groups (cases of Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks).
  • Steven Noakes (MA 2005) — horizontal networks and social movement cohesion (case of the Falun Gong).
  • Anne-Lise Loomer (MA 2005) — civil society’s growing involvement in the UN system (case studies of disease eradication campaigns).
  • Kim Swanzey (MA 2004) — The causes of Islamic extremist dissent in Central Asia.


Selected Articles and Chapters: