I am an award-winning feminist political scientist, specialising in two major fields. On the one hand in authoritarianism/democracy, transnational feminism and anti-gender backlash. And on the other, in foreign policy, conflict and peace studies and (feminist) civil society. Regionally, I focus on post-communist Europe, in particular on Russia and the Western Balkans. I am an expert in interpretive-qualitative research methods, including software-aided (MaxQDA) discourse analysis.
I received my DPhil in autumn 2020 from the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. My dissertation was in the field of comparative politics. Comparing Russia and Serbia, I analyzed how backlash against "gender ideology" is instrumental for authoritarian regimes' foreign and domestic politics and how it shrinks feminists' space for critical engagement and subversion, nationally and transnationally. It was awarded an honorable mention by the Swiss Association for Gender Studies.
Currently, I work as senior researcher at swisspeace, an associated institute of the University of Basel. In this role, I focus on how the anti-gender backlash is organised in multilateral institutions, how it targets international norms of gender equality and in so doing poses a fundamental threat to peace and democratic stability. My second research focus lies on masculinities, militarism and gender-based violence. Both research areas are situated within the field of Feminist Foreign Policy and more specifically the UN Women, Peace and Security agenda.
Previously, I was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade (2017), at the Department of Comparative Politics at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in St. Petersburg (2017), and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Bern, Switzerland (2020). I furthermore secured funding for fellowships at the Albert Hirschman Centre for Democracy at the Geneva Graduate Institute (2018) as well as at the University of Vienna (2019).
I am currently working on a book proposal to publish the thesis as a monograph. In the meantime you can take a peek here. I have already published further findings in the Women's Studies International Forum.
I am also an ardent teacher with experience at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I regularly teach at the University of Basel. My most recent MA seminar was on "authoritarianism in post-communist Europe".
At Oxford, I taught Qualitative Methods in the MSc programme on Global Governance and Diplomacy at the Department of International Development. I also taught typical two-to-one tutorials for BA students in Politics, covering a wide subject range, from International Relations, Politics of Russia and the former Soviet Union, to International Security and Conflict.
In February 2020, I joined the practice and research institute swisspeace as a gender and peacebuilding advisor. I design and implement applied research projects related to Feminist Foreign Policy, in particular gendered dynamics of conflict and their feminist prevention and transformation, the implementation of the UN Women, Peace and Security Agenda as well as the relationship between masculinities, militarism and gender-based violence. The derived policy-recommendations are used to advise foreign ministries, international organisations and civil society actors.
An important part of my work is capacity-building through tailor-made training. At swisspeace, I am responsible for the continuing education course Gender and Peacebuilding as well as for the unique course on Masculinities, Marginalisation and Militarism which I developed and held for the first time in autumn 2020. Both regularly attract over twenty international peacebuilding practitioners and policy-makers.
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I strongly believe in scholars' social responsibility to make their expertise accessible for a wider audience. This is why I regularly act as a public intellectual, analysing current events in mainstream media and other public formats. My experience and network as a journalist have proved a great asset in this endeavour.
I have had the privilege to make the cause dear to my heart my job. This has, however, never kept me from also pursuing unpaid work to contribute to making the society I live in a fairer and more feminist place.
Together with eight well-established activists and researchers, we founded the Feminist Institute Sophia (FEMIS), the first of its kind in Switzerland! (see video). At FEMIS, I am co-responsible for corporate branding, fundraising, project development, and stakeholder engagement.
In addition, I am an active member of the Socio-Democratic Party in Switzerland, in particular with the party's Women Group but also with my local section in the city of Bern. I ran for cantonal elections in March 2022 and have furthermore been active in various campaigns, such as against the increase of women's retirement age, for a Yes to the Protection against Hate as well as an Only Yes Means Yes campaign on consent.
All of this was preceded by very active years of political campaigning during my time in the UK. For four years I was an active member of the Women's Equality Party that was founded in 2015. In four elections, I knocked on thousands of doors in my Londoner neighbourhood, advocating for feminist policies in dialogue with people from across the political spectrum. I also acted as my Londoner party branch's data manager, getting to know one of today's most efficient campaigning tool: Nationbuilder.