I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Oslo. I completed a Master’s degree in European Studies at Maastricht University and graduated BA in Political Science from the European Humanities University in Vilnius, Lithuania. During my doctoral project, I was a part of the ITN Marie Curie project “Post-Soviet Tensions.” I was awarded a ZEIT-Stiftung Ebeln und Gerd Buceries PhD grant “Trajectories of Change” and a Civil Society Scholar Award from the Open Society Foundations for my fieldwork in Belarus. In 2016-2017, I was a doctoral research fellow at the Centre for East European and International Studies(ZOiS) in Berlin. Before joining the University of Oslo, I worked as a research assistant on EU multilevel governance at the European Institute of Public Administration in Barcelona and participated in election observation missions in Lithuania, Georgia and Belarus.
Research Methods & Research Design
Text as Data
How does the role of ordinary citizens change in the interpretation and production of national identity under an authoritarian political system? Exploring the discursive role of authoritarian political stability on perceptions of national identity, this study examines how categories of “national” are appropriated and internalized in identity talks among Belarusians. It offers a bottom–up perspective on national identification, drawing on analysis of six focus group discussions with Belarusian citizens. The main objective was to observe everyday language and how people construct symbolic significance for certain practices as “national” and what are the meanings invested in replicating and re-enacting different identity markers, given the contingencies of everyday life in an authoritarian political context. I evaluate cross-group and intergroup discursive variations in responses and repertoires of volunteer participants in terms of agreement and disagreement. Public conformity with regime ideational practices does not appear to equate with political allegiance to the current regime. Even when identity repertoires echo the identity discourses of official state ideology, people attach their own meanings and interpretations to these identity markers. However, I find that the authoritarian context affects how identity repertoires are enacted and talked about. Integrating performative aspects of identity talks into the analysis, I note how participants consciously reflect on the sensitivity of political topics, and prioritize politically neutral narratives.