Anastassia pictureDr Anastasia Shesterinina

Lecturer in Politics/International Politics

Contact Details:
Telephone: 0114 222 1665
Room: 1.06


Dr Anastasia Shesterinina joined the Department of Politics in January 2017 as a Lecturer in Politics/International Politics. Prior to taking up this position, she was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-2016) at Yale University, affiliated with the Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. She holds a PhD (2014, first class) in Political Science from the University of British Columbia and an Honours Double Major BA (2008, summa cum laude) in Political Science and European Studies from York University in Canada. Dr Shesterinina has had extensive research methods training, including the Institute for Qualitative & Multi‐Method Research at Syracuse University (2010) and the Qualitative Methods and the Study of Civil War Course at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (2009).

Dr Shesterinina’s interests lie at the intersection of international relations, comparative politics, and qualitative methodology. Her field-intensive research explores the internal dynamics of and international intervention in contemporary armed conflict, with a focus on ordinary people’s mobilization under uncertainty and civilian protection norms and practices.


To facilitate student learning and success I have paid particular attention to the diverse student backgrounds and responded to student needs by developing targeted tools for text analysis, writing, and classroom discussion. I draw on my field-based research, academic and practitioner networks, theater training, and experience in the government (Elections Canada) and non-governmental sectors (Oxfam Russia and the Peace Research Institute of Frankfurt) to bring a variety of perspectives into the classroom. Module materials range from academic articles and up-to-date op-eds to archival documents and photographs collected during my fieldwork. Students benefit from guest lectures by academics, policy makers, and persons working in the field, brought into the classroom in person or by use of online media tools. Simulation exercises on the issues of current significance help bridge core theoretical insights with policy relevance and shape an energetic and interactive learning environment.

I am currently teaching the postgraduate modules POL6606 International Political Sociology of Civil Wars, POL6007 Research and Dissertation Preparation and POL6618 Doctoral Training in Politics and the undergraduate module POL117 Introduction to International Relations.

PhD Supervision

I look forward to supervising students interested in questions of political violence and civil war, including but not limited to armed group organization and mobilization processes and intervention in contemporary armed conflict. I am especially keen on supervising students conducting field-based research.


Watch: Dr Shesterinina interviewed on The MacMillan Report.

I pursue two lines of research on contemporary armed conflict based on extensive fieldwork in conflict areas and rigorous qualitative analysis that has been supported by nationally competitive scholarships and published in high-impact journals, such as American Political Science Review.

My work on the internal dynamics of armed conflict examines mobilization across the pre-, civil war, and post-war stages. My dissertation, Mobilization in Civil War: Latent Norms, Social Relations, and Inter-Group Violence in Abkhazia, asks why ordinary people mobilize in the face of high risk in civil war. Based on fieldwork over 2010-2013 in Abkhazia, Georgia, and Russia, I develop a socio-normative theory of individual decision-making and introduce a threat framing mechanism to explain the variation in mobilization roles adopted by individuals in civil war. I demonstrate that under the conditions where strong norms develop toward a collectivity, a norm triggering mechanism has greater explanatory power in accounting for mobilization than personal safety calculations. My article in American Political Science Review, “Collective Threat Framing and Mobilization in Civil War,” builds on and extends my dissertation research by focusing on how individuals come to perceive threat involved in civil war and how variable threat perceptions affect mobilization decisions. These aspects of my research form the foundation of my book manuscript (in progress), Mobilizing under Uncertainty. This work contributes to studies of conflict processes in diverse societies, with academic and policy implications for conflict prevention and management.

My second line of research examines international intervention in armed conflict, focusing on the norms and practices of civilian protection in the United Nations peacekeeping operations. As part of this research, I worked at the Peace Research Institute of Frankfurt on the links between peacebuilding, democratization, and violence. My single-authored and collaborative research with Brian Job explores the evolving international norms of the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, the Responsibility to Protect, and the Protection of Nationals Abroad. This research extends my regional area of expertise to cases including Somalia, Côte d’Ivoire, and more recently Libya and such global actors as China. The norm-shaping aspects of the civilian protection agenda at the United Nations and the novel theoretical framework we label as particularized protection are among our main contributions to research on international intervention and global governance of conflict.

Professional Service

Dr Shesterinina holds a leadership role as part of the Working Group on Evidence from Research with Human Participants in the Qualitative Transparency Deliberations, an inclusive dialogue among political scientists sponsored by the American Political Science Association’s Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, To listen to Dr Shesterinina's talk on transparency and human subjects at APSA 2017 Qualitative Transparency Deliberations Roundtable, click here

She is affiliated and actively engaged with a number of research networks, including:

Dr Shesterinina has been invited to speak at a range of seminars and conferences, including:

  • Participant in Roundtable on The Role of Professional Associations in Ensuring Inclusivity, Diversity and Mobility, EISA, Barcelona, September 2017;
  • Panel organizer, “Civil War Legacies: Social, Political, and Legal Orders after Armed Conflict,” American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, September 2017;
  • “Community Transparency Statement: Evidence from Research with Human Participants,” The Qualitative Transparency Deliberations, Sponsored by APSA’s Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, September 2017;
  • “Ethnographic Surprises: Between Method and Theory in Interpretive Research,” American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, September 2017;
  • Participant in Roundtable on Social Networks and Immersive Fieldwork: Innovations in the Study of Movements and Militants, International Studies Association Annual Convention, Baltimore, MD, February 2017;
  • “How Ideologies Form, Whose Ideas Matter: The Case of Abkhaz Mobilization in the Georgian-Abkhaz War,” Workshop on Ideology and Armed Groups, Université de Montréal, June 2017 and International Studies Association Annual Convention, Baltimore, MD, February 2017; Canadian Political Science Association Conference, Toronto, May 2017;
  • “Insurgent Cohesion: Social Networks and Conflict Identities in the Abkhaz Army,” Workshop on Rebel Governance, De Facto States, Conflict Dynamics and Outcomes, The University of York, June 2017; International Studies Association Annual Convention, Baltimore, MD, February 2017; Political Violence and the Future of Area Studies: Global Perspectives from Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Convention, Washington, D.C., November 2016;
  • “Mobilizing under Uncertainty: From Fleeing to Fighting in War-Time Abkhazia,” Political Violence Workshop, Harvard University, November 2016; Politics and Protest Workshop, City University of New York, October 2016; Asia Pacific Center for R2P Public Seminar, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, July 2016;
  • “Collective Threat Framing and Mobilization in Civil War: From Submission to Publication,” Social Dynamics of Civil War Seminar, Sorbonne University, Paris, January 2017; Order, Conflict, and Violence Workshop, Yale University, November 2016;
  • “Collective Threat Framing and Mobilization in Civil War,” Social Dynamics of Civil War Seminar, Sorbonne University, Paris, March 2016; Households in Conflict Workshop, University of Toronto, November 2015; Order, Conflict, and Violence Workshop, Yale University, September 2015; American Political Science Association’s Political Networks Conference, Portland, OR, June 2015; Harvard-MIT- Yale Political Violence Conference, MIT, April 2015;
  • “Fieldwork on Civil War,” MIT Qualitative Research PhD Seminar, April 2015;
  • “Evolving Norms of Protection: China, Libya, and the Problem of Intervention in Armed Conflict,” Workshop on Rising Powers and Intervention, PUC-Rio, Brazil, September 2014;
  • “Latent Norms and Socialization in Civil War: The Case of the Georgian-Abkhaz War,” Workshop on Socialization and Organized Political Violence, SFU, Vancouver, BC, September 2013;
  • “From War to Conflict and Back: Borderland Violence in ‘Post-Conflict’ Abkhazia,” Public Lecture, Tbilisi, Georgia, April 2013; Works-in- Progress Series, American Research Institute in South Caucasus, Tbilisi, Georgia, April 2013;
  • “Why Violent Conflicts Recur,” PeaceTalk #7, Peace Geeks, Vancouver, BC, February 2013.

Dr Shesterinina has served as a reviewer for Global Governance, Journal of Peace Research,International Studies Quarterly, and New Political Economy.


View full list of publications

Key recent publications:

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