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Elliott School of International Affairs, Lindner Family Commons (Room 602) Free Event

1957 E St NW

Free Event

About the Event

This event will begin with opening remarks from Dr. Henry Hale, Director of GW's Petrach Program on Ukraine, followed by a lecture by the author, and a moderated Q&A with the audience. This event is hosted by the  Petrach Program on Ukraine and the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES). The talk will be in-person and livestreamed.


About the Book


Across both democratic and authoritarian regimes, from Moscow to Kyiv to Washington, politicians sympathetic to the Kremlin have perfected or proposed ways of governing that transform democratic institutions into command performances. These performances can operate unnoticed because they mainly use economic pressure, not overt violence, to incite people to participate. Based on long-term research in Russia and in Ukraine before decentralization, Staging Democracy shows how national politicians deputized local business and community leaders to use salaries, benefits, and public infrastructure to pressure citizens to participate in political theater: manipulated elections, protests for hire, and smaller mises en scène. With implications for Russia's ability to continue to conduct its war, people in temporarily occupied territories in Ukraine, and the specter of Schedule F in the United States, Staging Democracy shows how economic precarity can make societies vulnerable to politicians who seek not only power, but also changes in the very meaning of democracy.


About the Author


Jessica Pisano is a Professor of Politics at the New School for Social Research in New York City. She writes and teaches about contemporary and twentieth-century politics and economy in Eastern Europe. Her books Staging Democracy (Cornell University Press, 2022) and prize-winning The Post-Soviet Potemkin Village (Cambridge University Press, 2008) are based on her long-term research in communities along Ukraine's borders with Russia and the EU. She is working on a book about a single street in Eastern Europe under fascism, state socialism, and neoliberal democracy. Pisano has written for Politico on the timing of Russia's full-scale war, and her series of articles on American impeachment and Ukrainian and Russian politics appeared in The Washington Post. Pisano's work on the anti-polarization artistry of Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appeared in The Journal of Democracy and Politico Magazine, among others. Having served in institutional roles in academia in Russia and Ukraine throughout her career, she is now a trustee of the Ukrainian Kharkiv Karazin University Foundation.


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