Eleanor Knott, Ph.D.


The London School of Economics and Political Science

Country: United Kingdom (England)

About Me:

I am an Assistant Professor in Qualitative Methodology at the Department of Methodology, London School of Economics. My research focuses on the intersection of identity and citizenship. I am currently working on a book manuscript examining the politics of identity and citizenship from the bottom-up in Crimea and Moldova. I am also working on a project on EU27 citizens' experiences of Brexit and EU citizenship. 

Research Interests

Post-Communist Politics

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

European Politics

Research Methods & Research Design

Immigration & Citizenship

Specific Areas of Interest


Identity Politics




EU Citizenship

Qualitative Research Ethics

Research Ethics

Countries of Interest



United Kingdom

Former Soviet Union



Journal Articles:

(2019) Beyond the Field: Ethics after Fieldwork in Politically Dynamic Contexts, Perspectives on Politics

Tags: Research Methods & Research Design

As researchers, when do our ethical obligations end? How should our ethical obligations respond to dynamic and unstable political contexts? Political scientists frequently work in dynamic political situations that can pose new ethical questions beyond those existing at the point of fieldwork. Yet, research ethics are often conceived in terms of a static, if not hermetically sealed, field site that remains frozen in time at the point we conduct fieldwork and collect data. I argue, first, that we need to consider more systematically how a dynamic field intersects with ethical obligations. Second, I argue that new and unexpected ethical questions can emerge after exiting the field, including responsibilities to research participants, dissemination, and publication, and returning to the field, which should be a part of how we conceive of ethical obligations.

(2019) Strategy, identity or legitimacy? Analysing engagement with dual citizenship from the bottom-up, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Tags: Immigration & Citizenship, Post-Communist Politics

Why do individuals become dual citizens by acquiring kin-state citizenship? This article examines the case of Moldova as an extreme case of kin-state dual citizenship acquisition. In Moldova, a majority of residents can acquire (or reacquire) Romanian citizenship by virtue of being descended from former Romania citizens. First, the article moves beyond institutional and migration-centred perspectives on dual citizenship acquisition. Instead, the article explores kin-state citizenship as a practice of citizenship acquisition. The article uses 55 interviews with ordinary people, conducted in Moldova between 2012 and 2013, to examine why individuals choose (or not) to acquire kin-state citizenship. Second, the article argues for understanding explanations of acquisition of kin-state citizenship beyond strategic vs identity explanations. Rather, the article considers a third dimension of legitimacy. This legitimacy dimension demonstrates how the acquisition of kin-state citizenship is constructed as natural, normal and, thus, legitimate. The article finds that the legitimate dimension is used even by those who do not identify co-ethnically or with the kin-state. Ties of legitimacy can, therefore, bind individuals to the kin-state via citizenship, irrespective of whether they identify with the kin-state.

(2019) Perpetually “partly free”: lessons from post-soviet hybrid regimes on backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe, Journal of East European Politics

Tags: Post-Communist Politics, Comparative Democratization

This article discusses the lessons that can be drawn from post-Soviet experiences of democratisation in hybrid regimes for debates on Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) “democratic backsliding”. Focusing on Moldova and Ukraine, the article investigates the ebb and flow of post-Soviet democratisation in hybrid regimes. It explores factors that have hindered democratisation, namely state and media capture by business-political interests, and factors that have hindered authoritarian consolidation, namely civil society and citizens’ potential for mobilisation. The article reflects on how these factors can inform debates on backsliding in more consolidated democracies, such as CEE states.

(2017) Quasi-citizenship as a category of practice: analyzing engagement with Russia’s Compatriot policy in Crimea, Citizenship Studies

Tags: Immigration & Citizenship, Post-Communist Politics

This article analyzes engagement with Russia’s Compatriot policy, as an example of ethnizenship-type of quasi-citizenship, in Crimea, as the most likely case of Compatriot engagement. The article focuses on unpacking the lived experience of Compatriot identification and engagement and the rationale for this engagement. The article finds a narrow and niche engagement with the Compatriot policy in Crimea where only the most politicized and discriminated individuals, alongside beneficiaries of the Compatriot policy, identify as Compatriots. However, the article also finds dissatisfaction with the Compatriot policy because it fails to offer the kind of status, and rights and benefits, of ‘full’ citizenship. Thus, while citizenship might be becoming fractured, via quasi-citizenship policies, citizenship remains the key point of entry to the kin-state. Focusing on the lived experience of quasi-citizenship, and examining quasi-citizenship as a category of practice, is crucial for developing understanding of the social and political impacts of quasi-citizenship policies.

(2017) The extra-territorial paradox of voting: the duty to vote in extra-territorial elections, Democratization

Tags: Political Participation, Immigration & Citizenship, Post-Communist Politics

The question of why individuals vote, the so-called “paradox of voting”, has been a crucial debate within political science, conceived deductively as an interaction between costs, benefits, and, as some argue, duties. This article situates the question of why individuals vote within the context of extra-territorial elections, focusing on how and why those who acquire citizenship kin-states participate in kin-state elections following citizenship acquisition, while continuing to reside outside of the kin-state. The article uses the case of newly acquired Romanian citizens in Moldova, who have never resided in nor intend to reside in Romania, to unpack whether, how, and why individuals acquiring Romanian citizenship in Moldova vote in Romanian elections. The article uses an interpretive and inductive approach to explore from the bottom up both the experiences of and motivations for political participation of extra-territorial citizens. The article finds, unexpectedly, how those acquiring Romanian citizenship in Moldova are motivated by a duty to participate. Overall, the article argues for a relational and reciprocal understanding of citizenship and voting, which focuses on the relationship between the kin-state, facilitating citizenship as a right, and the kin-citizen, performing their duty to vote.

(2015) Generating data: studying identity politics from a bottom–up approach in Crimea and Moldova, East European Politics

Tags: Immigration & Citizenship, Post-Communist Politics

This article argues that bottom–up, people-centered research which uses ethnographic and everyday approaches is crucial but underutilized in research on identity politics in Eastern Europe. In order to understand what concepts such as ethnicity and citizenship mean in the context of people’s everyday lives, it is vital to understand whether taken-for-granted political concepts are appropriate and the make-up of data such as census data. The article first introduces the methods of political ethnography and bottom–up interviews by discussing how they can be applied and their value within political science. The paper uses data gathered from interviews in Moldova and Crimea (when it was still a de jure and de facto part of Ukraine) to demonstrate the value of this approach. It shows how interview data can add significantly to the understanding of kin-state relations within political science by adding a richness of context and a bottom–up perspective that quantitative and elite-level interviews fail to provide. Lastly, the paper draws on experiences gained from research design to discuss how bottom–up research in political science can be conducted rigorously. The article argues that this approach can deepen the understanding of identity politics and kin-state relations or, more broadly, important post-communist questions such as democratization and Europeanization.

(2015) What Does it Mean to Be a Kin Majority? Analyzing Romanian Identity in Moldova and Russian Identity in Crimea from Below, Social Science Quarterly

Tags: Immigration & Citizenship, Post-Communist Politics

Objective: This article investigates what kin identification means from a bottom-up perspective in two kin majority cases: Moldova and Crimea. Methods: The article is based on ∼50 fieldwork interviews conducted in both Moldova and Crimea with everyday social actors (2012–2013). Results: Ethnic homogeneity for kin majorities is more fractured that previously considered. Respondents identified more in terms of assemblages of ethnic, cultural, political, linguistic, and territorial identities than in mutually exclusive census categories. Conclusions: To understand fully the relations between kin majorities, their kin-state and home-state and the impact of growing kin engagement policies, like dual citizenship, it is necessary to analyze the complexities of the lived experience of kin identification for members of kin majorities and how this relates to kin-state identification and affiliation. Understanding these complexities helps to have a more nuanced understanding of the role of ethnicity in post-Communist societies, in terms of kin-state and intrastate relations.