Research Projects

Ethnopopulism in Turkey’s Foreign Policy Transformation: From Liberal Western Ally to Illiberal Islamic Power
Duration: October, 2022 - September, 2025

Funding: EU Horizon Europe / UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
IR department researcher: Erin Jenne with Ahmet Erdi Oztürk and PhD student Mehmet Yavuz
Under Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s leadership, Turkey has undergone a foreign policy transformation from liberal Western ally to an illiberal Islamic power. This shift has been so gradual that it is rarely highlighted in Western scholarship or policy circles. We believe that this stealth transformation is in no small part due to Erdogan’s rhetorical strategy, which draws on the logic of ethnopopulism (a combination of ethnonationalism and populism). We analyze leader speeches over twenty years to document the rise of ethnonationalist populist rhetoric in Erdogan’s addresses to the nation. We then analyze key foreign policy documents over the same period to show how this rhetoric was also utilized to rationalize a gradual transformation in Turkish foreign policy from Western ally to independent regional power. In sum, ethnopopulism has been used to justify a revolution in Turkey's foreign affairs toward NATO, the United States, the European Union, Russia, China, and the Gulf Countries.
A Mixed Methods Analysis of “Russia World” in Russian Foreign Policy Rhetoric
Duration: October, 2022 - September, 2025

Funding: EU Horizon Europe / UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
IR department researcher: Erin Jenne with PhD Students Liliia Sablina and Mehmet Yavuz
Since the late 2000s, the Kremlin has used the term Russian World (Russkiy Mir)  as an ideological tool to justify its aggressive foreign policy actions, including the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022. This paper presents one of the first attempts to analyze systematically how Russkiy Mir has been instrumentalized in the discourses of the primary Russian political and cultural actors. We combine word embedding techniques with qualitative discourse analysis on speeches made by Putin and Medvedev (2008-2022, n=1173), foreign minister Lavrov and foreign minister's spokesperson Zakharova (2005- 2022, n=5213), sermons and messages made by patriarch Kirill and Aleksii in the period of 2001-2022 (n= 7015), as well as the official journals published by the Russkiy Mir foundation in the period from 2007 to 2021 (n=168). We find that Russian political elites used the concept as an ideological tool for legitimizing foreign policy goals and asserting its geopolitical ambitions. However, there is a division of labor in the use of the term among actors. Overall, the paper illustrates how authoritarian regime utilizes ideological narratives as a mean of external legitimization to maintain their foreign policy goals.
Researcher: Erin Jenne
This is a joint project originally funded by the Intellectual Themes Initiative (ITI) at Central European University under which annual speeches of state executives (prime ministers or presidents) in the counties of Eurasia are holistically coded from 1989 to present using a large team of coders. The texts are coded for the relative presence of nationalism and populism. The same coding is undertaken on party manifestos of the biggest two or three parties, as well any smaller parties that are widely-recognized as either populist or right-wing. The project aims to map the variations of identitarian framing in political arenas across Europe to understand the variable forms populism and nationalism take. The team also conducts holistic coding on the executive speeches and party platforms for selected countries from interwar Europe (Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria) where populism was an important political force. The work has yielded several publications, including articles in Comparative European Poliics, Nationalities Papers, International Affairs, and Studies in Comparative International Development. It is also the basis of a monograph in progress, tentatively titled Sovereigntist Movements: Populism, Nationalism, and Reframing the State.

Clients, Rivals and Rogues: Three Logics of Great Power Side-taking in Revolutionary Civil Wars 

Researcher: Erin Jenne with Milos Popovic and David Siroky 
We use a mix of qualitative text analysis and multinomial regression analysis of a dataset of major power-conflict-years from 1975 to 2016 to explore the patterns of great power military interventions into revolutionary civil wars. The project investigates how great powers (the Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council) choose to intervene militarily in such conflicts, which side they choose, and when they exit conflicts. It is currently under review with Cambridge University Press.

Risky Borders: Gender and Race in EU Border Security

Researchers: Saskia Stachowitsch (PI), Julia Sachseder
Unit: Department of International Relations, Department of Gender Studies
Duration: April 2020 – July 2024
Funding: FWF Austrian Science Fund (Stand-Alone Project, Grant No. FWF: P-33355)

The project examines the role of knowledge practices in the making of the external borders of the EU and how these practices contribute to gendered and racialized inequalities and insecurities. Drawing on feminist and postcolonial theory, we study the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex with a focus on its risk analysis – a central meaning-making practice that assesses developments conceived as increasing the risk of illegal or irregular border crossings into the EU and shapes contemporary (border) security regimes, institutions, and policies. Risk analysis not only provides the data but also the interpretations and narratives upon which policies are based and bordering practices se designed. Gender and race are central to these narratives as they assign differential value, rights, and agency on the basis of perceived dichotomies between masculinity and femininity as well as processes of racialized Othering. The project analyzes how conceptualizations of (in)security, risks, threats, and protection put forward in risk analysis are informed by gendered and racialized framings and how these shape border security and management. We show how gender and race contribute to problematizing migration and legitimizing contentious and violent bordering practices (Stachowitsch and Sachseder 2019), how they inform the construction of ‘migration crisis’ and thereby promote Frontex’s institutional growth (Sachseder et al. 2022), and how they shape the agency’s visual politics through photography and data visualizations (Achilleos-Sarll et al. 2023).


· 2023, Columba Achilleos-Sarll, Julia Sachseder and Saskia Stachowitsch, The (Inter-)Visual Politics of Border Security: Co-constituting Gender and Race through Frontex’s ‘Risk Analysis’, forthcoming in Security Dialogue

· 2022, Julia Sachseder, Saskia Stachowitsch and Clemens Binder, Constituting the ‘Refugee Crisis’ through Gender and Race. The Case of Frontex’s Risk Analysis, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 48:19, 4670-4693, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2022.2092461

· 2019, Saskia Stachowitsch and Julia Sachseder, The Gendered and Racialized Politics of Risk Analysis. The Case of Frontex, Critical Studies on Security, 7:2, 107-123,

Managing the Atomic Order: nuclear rivalry and the geopolitics of arms control.

Researcher: Christopher LaRoche
This two-year Stanton-funded project will examine the role of institutions and geopolitics in the nuclear escalation control and deterrence regimes of the 20th century, with an eye to the security architecture of the future.
More forthcoming August 2023.

Relational geopolitics: multipolarity, spheres of influence, and great power competition.

Researcher: Christopher LaRoche
Drawing on my dissertation, this project investigates the role of geopolitics in great power competition. It reimagines "geopolitics" and argues for a constructivist interpretation — social or relational geopolitics — wherein geopolitical claims are recognized or rejected. A second part of this project examines the role of geopolitics in multipolar world orders, contrasting the Concert of Europe to today. This research has been presented at ISA, EISA, and ISA:NE. With Adam Pontius.

Psychological distance and international relations.

Researcher: Christopher LaRoche
This project uses psychological distance, a concept developed in psychology and sociology, to critically investigate the microfoundations of international relations. Psychological distance redefines "distance" as subjective and multidimensional--we experience entities as temporally, physically, socially, and hypothetically distant. This differs from the linear, measurable conception used in international relations research. Supported by an EISA exploratory symposium, the project aims to introduce international relations to a psychological distance approach and sketch its value in explaining humanitarianism, nuclear weapons, climate change, migration, and technology. With Simon Frankel PrattAlena DrieschovaBenjamin Tallis, and Markus Kornprobst.

Reactionary populism and world ordering.

Researcher: Christopher LaRoche
This project builds on work published in International Theory and International Studies Quarterly on the intersection between theories of history and international relations. We investigate how dispositions towards history are used to mobilize and justify world historical visions, with a focus on reactionary contestations of liberal world order. With Joseph MacKayErin Jenne, and Lucas Dolan.

Rethinking structural international relations.

Researcher: Christopher LaRoche
Building on our paper about Kenneth Waltz in the European Journal of International Relations, this project critically examines the role played by "material power" in justifying ideas-based constructivist and critical interventions. It argues that the material-ideas dichotomy as found in contemporary international relations and security studies is unsound, and cannot explain why supposedly materially powerful actors are routinely defeated by weaker ones. We also hope to explore creativity in international relations by examining instances where individuals shape structure. With Simon Frankel Pratt.

Security – a ‘blind spot’ in contemporary IPE?

Researcher: Thomas Fetzer 

The project interrogates contemporary IPE with regard to its difficulties to take security seriously as part of its research agenda. A project sketch will appear as part of an article for the Handbook of Knowledge and Expertise, forthcoming with Oxford University Press co-authored with Xymena Kurowska (CEU), Kateryna Zarembo (TU Darmstadt) and Maksym Yakovlyev (Kyiv Mohyla Academy) The project pays particular attention to the portrayal of past economic crises in IPE scholarship, and a paper with regard to the security ‘blind spot’ of IPE accounts of the Great Depression has been presented as part of the CIVICA project on ‘Democracy and its Discontents’ ( at Sciences Po Paris in February 2023.

Collective memory and (international) political economy

Researcher: Thomas Fetzer  

Building on earlier work on nationalism and IPE in the Journal of International Relations and Development ( and Nationalities Papers (, the project addresses the significance of collective memory for (international) political economy. An edited volume on the role of memory narratives in economic crises and transformations, co-edited with Stefan Berger (RU Bochum) and based on a workshop at CEU (, is currently under review by Oxford University Press. Ongoing joint work with James Dunne (CEU DSOS) explores the question of golden age narratives through a comparison of post-1945 Germany and Britain.

The Russo-Ukrainian War: Remolding the Politics of History and Memory?

Researcher: Thomas Fetzer 

This project addresses the implications of the Russo-Ukrainian War for the politics of history and memory. Preparatory work has focused on the organization of a workshop on war-related memory politics in February 2024, following from an earlier online event ( Moreover, this involves the organization of a panel on history politics for a conference on the war-related politics of knowledge production, co-organized with CEU’s Invisible University for Ukraine, to take place at CEU in the fall 2023. Several follow-up publications are planned, as is further collaborative work with Ivan Nikolovski (CEU DSPS).

Multinational firms, labour and nationality

Researcher: Thomas Fetzer 

Building on earlier work (, the project explores the politics of labour in multinational firms with particular regard to the role of nationality. Following an online talk at the Harvard Business School History seminar (, the project will contribute an article on ‘Labour and Multinationals’ to the Cambridge Companion to the History of Multinationals & Society, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, in the fall 2024.