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  • Faculty

  • Jessica Pisano

    Associate Professor of Politics


    Office Location
    D - Albert & Vera List Academic Center - 6 East 16th Street

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    Jessica Pisano


    Jessica Pisano is an Associate Professor of Politics at The New School for Social Research. She writes and teaches about contemporary and twentieth century politics in Eastern Europe. Her work focuses on the enclosure of public resources, the constitution of material and social power, and political and social processes of dispossession. She asks how shifts in political economy shape people's lives, and how those effects translate into changes in local, national, and global politics. Her research is interdisciplinary, drawing on archival sources as well as a variety of immersion-based methods, including participant-observation research.

    Professor Pisano is the author of The Post-Soviet Potemkin Village: Politics and Property Rights in the Black Earth (Cambridge University Press, 2008), which received the Harvard University Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies in 2009. She recently completed a book-length manuscript about political theater and the social foundations of regime legitimacy in Russia and Ukraine. She is currently writing a history of property under fascism, state socialism, and neoliberal democracy on a single street in Eastern Europe between 1938 and 2014. Her series of articles on American impeachment and Ukrainian and Russian politics appeared in the online Washington Post.

    More information is available at Professor Pisano's personal website

    Degrees Held

    PhD 2003, Yale University

    Professional Affiliation

    Visiting Scholar, Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, New York University

    Center Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, 2004-Present

    Recent Publications


    The Post-Soviet Potemkin Village: Politics and Property Rights in the Black Earth.  2008.  Cambridge University Press.  Winner of the AAASS (ASEEES) Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies.  

    Political Theater: Capitalism and Democracy in Russia and Ukraine

    Articles and Book Chapters

    “Post-Soviet or Eurasian Lands? Rethinking Analytic Categories in the Ukraine-EU and Russia-China Borderlands” (with André Simonyi), in Tone Bringa and Hege Toje, eds. Eurasian Borderlands: Spatializing borders in the aftermath of state collapse (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), pp. 27-57.

    "Pokazukha and Cardiologist Khrenov: Soviet Legacies, Legacy Theater, and a Usable Past,” in Mark Beissinger and Stephen Kotkin, eds. Historical Legacies of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 222-242.

    “Opting Out under Stalin and Khrushchev: Post-War Sovietization in a Borderlands Magyar Village,” Problems of Post-Communism, 58:1 (January-February 2011), pp. 58-66.  

    “The Social Life of Borders: Political economy at the edge of the EU” (with A ndré Simonyi) in Joan DeBardeleben and Achim Hurrelmann (eds.), Transnational Europe: Promise—Paradox—Limits (Palgrave, 2011), 222-238.   

    “Social contracts and authoritarian projects in post-Soviet space: The use of administrative resource” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 43:4 (2010), pp. 373-382. 

    “Legitimizing facades: Civil Society in post-Orange Ukraine” in Paul D’Anieri (ed.), Orange Revolution and Aftermath: Mobilization, Apathy, and the State in Ukraine (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), pp. 229-253. 

    “From Iron Curtain to Golden Curtain: Remaking Identity in the European Union Borderlands,” East European Politics and Societies , 23:2 (May 2009), pp. 266-290.  Winner of Hungarian Studies Association Mark Pittaway prize.

    “How to Tell an Axe Murderer: An Essay on Ethnography, Truth, and Lies,” in Edward Schatz (ed.), Political Ethnography: What Immersion Contributes to the Study of Power (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009), pp. 53-73.  Co-recipient of American Political Science Association Giovanni Sartori Award.  

    “Property: What is it good for?” Social Research, 76:1 (Spring 2009), pp. 175-202.

    “The Two Faces of Petr Arkad’evich: Land and Dispossession in Russia’s Southwest, ca. 2000,” International Journal of Labor and Working Class History, (Spring 2007), pp. 70-90.

    Klychkov i Pustota: Post-Soviet Bureaucrats and the Production of Institutional Facades,” in Thomas Lahusen and Peter Solomon (eds.), What is Soviet Now? Identities, Legacies, Memories (London: LIT Verlag, 2007), pp. 40-56.

    “‘Friendship of Peoples’ After the Fall: Violence and Pan-African Community in Post-Soviet Moscow” (with Eric Allina-Pisano) in Maxim Matusevich (ed.), Africa in Russia, Russia in Africa: 300 Years of Encounters (Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press, 2006), pp. 175-198.

    “Sub Rosa Resistance and the Politics of Economic Reform: Land Redistribution in Post-Soviet Ukraine,” World Politics,56:4 (July 2004), pp. 554-81.

    “Land Reform and the Social Origins of Private Farmers in Russia and Ukraine,” Journal of Peasant Studies, 31:3 (July 2004).489-514.

    “Agrarnye reformy v Rossii i na Ukraine: sravnitel’nyi analiz,” Otechestvennye zapiski, 4:1 (March 2004), 1-12.

    “Reorganization and its Discontents: A Case Study in Voronezh oblast’,”in David O’Brien and Stephen Wegren (eds.), Rural Reform in Post-Soviet Russia (Washington, D.C. and Baltimore: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), pp 298-324.

    Essays and Shorter Pieces

    "Yes, Putin cares about Trump’s impeachment trial–but not for the reason you might imagine,” The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, January 24, 2020.

    “Why Ukraine’s president said there had been ‘no pressure’ from Trump,” Impeachment Inquiry and The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, November 22, 2019.

    "Trump says he was looking for corruption in Ukraine — where President Zelensky was known for mocking corruption in Ukraine,” The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, November 14, 2019.

    "Teatr po prinuzhdeniiu. Pochemu podderzhka vlasti na Ukraine i v Rossii imeet malo obshchego c demokratiei ili avtoritarizmom. Poteria obshchego iazyka v razgovorakh o politike proiskhodit ne tol’ko v rezul’tate ideologicheskikh usilii vlasti” [Theatre under duress: Why support for the authorities in Ukraine and Russia has little in common with democracy or authoritarianism. The loss of a common language in conversations about politics is occurring not only due to the ideological efforts of the powers that be], Republic (Moscow), April 25, 2019,

    "Potemkin Villages,” in The Global Encyclopedia of Informality. Alena Ledeneva, ed. University College London Press, 2018, Volume 2, pp. 278-280.

    "Tug of War: Notes from the Battlefield of Reflexivity,” Cultural Anthropology, November 2014.

    Research Interests

    Politics and political economy in Ukraine and Russia; property, privatization, and economic reform; informal institutions and bureaucratic behavior; the politics of concepts in social research; critical alternatives to analytic vocabularies in comparative politics ; the political economies of borderlands; historical methods in the study of politics; how we think about beginnings and ends of regimes.

    Primary research languages: English, French, Russian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, and Spanish

    Awards And Honors

    Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought, The New School, Fellowship, 2018.

    Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin Fellowship, 2017 (declined).

    Robert Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies Fellowship, The New School, 2017.

    Distinguished University Teaching Award, The New School, 2017.

    Institute for Advanced Study Senior Fellowship, Central European University, 2016 (declined).

    Hungarian Studies Association Mark Pittaway biennial prize for the best scholarly article relating to Hungary for “From Iron Curtain to Golden Curtain: Remaking Identity in the European Union Borderlands,” in the Spring 2009 issue of  East European Politics and Societies, 2011.

    Fulbright Scholarship Board, Council for International Exchange of Scholars, Fulbright award to the Russian Federation (declined), 2011. 

    American Political Science Association, Giovanni Sartori Award for the best book in qualitative and multi-methods research for Political Ethnography, co-recipient, 2010.

    University of Ottawa, Faculty of Social Sciences Research Chair in the Politics of Property, 2010.

    AAASS Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies for best book published on Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe in anthropology, political science, sociology, or geography, for The Post-Soviet Potemkin Village, 2009.

    Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Standard Research Grant, 2008-2012.

    National Council for Eurasian and East European Research Grant, 2007-2009.

    Harvard University Ukrainian Institute Shklar Research Fellowship, 2006.

    Harvard University Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2005 and 2006.

    American Political Science Association Small Research Grant, 2006.

    Colgate University Picker Research Grant, 2006.

    Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies Research Scholarship, 2004.

    Social Science Research Council Eurasia Program Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2004-2006.   

    Colgate University Dean’s discretionary research grant, 2004.   

    Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies Research Scholarship (declined), 2002.   

    Yale University Dissertation Fellowship, 2000.   

    Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, 1998.   

    IREX Individual Advanced Research Opportunities Research Grant, 1998.   

    Yale University Ukrainian Initiative dissertation research grant, 1998.   

    Yale Center for International and Area Studies Dissertation Research Fellowship, 1997.   

    Fox International Fellowship, Yale University and Moscow State University, 1997.   

    National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 1996-2001.   

    Yale University Graduate School Fellowship, 1995.   

    Harvard University prizes for “Constructed Lives: Author as Saint in the Soviet Literary Biographical Museum,” 1994: Thomas P. Hoopes Prize; Edward Chandler Cummings Prize for best senior essay in History and Literature; George B. Sohier prize for best senior essay in English, Comparative Literature, Slavic or Romance Languages          

    Current Courses

    Directed Dissertation Study

    Directed Dissertation Study (Paris Spring 2021)

    Global Russia/China/South

    Ind Senior Prject

    Ind Senior Prject (Paris Spring 2021)

    Independent Study

    Independent Study (Paris Spring 2021)

    Independent Study

    Rethinking Concepts/RussianPol

    Rethinking Concepts/RussianPol (Paris Spring 2021)

    Russia and America

    Senior Capstone

    Senior Capstone (Paris Spring 2021)

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