Marlene Laruelle, Ph.D., is a Director and Research Professor at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES), Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University.  

At IERES, she is also Director of the Illiberalism Studies Program, Co-Director of PONARS (Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia), and Director of GW's Central Asia Program. She is also leading the Democracy Studies specialization of the MA in International Affairs. She has been teaching Populism and Illiberalism, The Rise of the Far Right, Politics of the Post-Soviet Space, Nationalism and Nationbuilding in Eurasia, Central Asia between East and West.

Dr. Laruelle received her Ph.D. in history at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Cultures (INALCO) and her habilitation in political science at Sciences-Po in Paris. She is Senior Associate Scholar at IFRI, the French Institute for International Relations. 

Current Research Projects

Russian Ideological Landscape

I propose a comprehensive and nuanced analysis of the Putin regime’s relationship to ideology. Whereas the ideological palette accepted by the regime remains large and plural, there are some key notions that constitute what I call a ‘grammar,’ a concept from French sociology which is used to describe the overarching frameworks of legitimacy through which individuals, communities, and states apprehend the world. I argue here that the Russian state has developed several grammars of power which have materialized in several concepts, but without resulting in the promulgation of a unified, coherent doctrine. What results from this study is the image of a flexible, ad hoc regime that tests new ideological products to answer what it sees at its main challenges—while keeping the door open to a bottom-up dialogue with the society and avoiding the trap of crafting a new rigid doctrine.

Transnational History of the Far Right

I lead a collective of scholars investigating the connections between Russian, European, and North American right-wing movements, ideologies, and individuals across the 20th century up to today. We are preparing a co-authored monograph on the history of the Russian White émigré movement as transnational and transgenerational project of fighting against the Soviet Union, and how these trajectories are deeply interrelated to the history of European and U.S. far right.

Russia and China as Service Providers of Illiberal Governance

This research done with Erica Marat (NDU) offers a new theoretical framework for studies of hegemonies by explaining how near-peer influence and regional balances of power are now embedded in competition in the knowledge economy. To better understand Russia’s and China’s ability to generate new forms of great power competitions that pose strategic challenges to the United States and its allies, we test hypotheses that both countries’ rising global outreach can be explained by their status as service providers for illiberal governance. By illiberal governance, we refer to the tools of the knowledge and skills economy that can be deployed by state agencies to ensure political control over society, resilience to external forces, and elite capture of profitable sectors.

I founded the Illiberalism Studies Program at GW to study the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural contexts, their intellectual genealogies, the natures of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene. I am especially interested in the grassroots mechanisms underpinning the popular support given to illiberal projects, as well as of the cultural products and social practices that structure illiberal communities and illiberal civil society.

The Arctic

I work on the notion of social sustainability of Russian Arctic cities by looking at their urban regimes, migration policies, the way local identities are built and negotiated, and how multiethnicity is managed. My research is based on yearly fieldwork conducted in Russia’s main Arctic cities between 2013 and 2018: Murmansk and the surrounding Kola Peninsula mining cities, Arkhangelsk, Severodvinsk, Naryan Mar, Vorkuta, Salekhard, Norilsk, Dudinka, Yakutsk, and Mirnyi.