research and publications

I have written for a range of audiences, including policymakers, academics, and the general public, on domestic and international politics and culture. Selected clips below.

Policy and Politics

Slate (2018): The U.S. Is Decades Behind the World on Paid Leave. This Puts Us in a Great Position.

Slate (2018): Four Crucial Things You Should Know About New York’s New Paid Family Leave Program.

Slate (2017): Chosen Family Should Be Included in Paid Leave Policy. We Already Know It Could Work.

Anthropology and Feminist Theory

International Encyclopedia of Anthropology (forthcoming): Gay, lesbian and queer sexuality

Feminist Formations (2018, open access): Pussy provocations: Feminist protest and anti-feminist resurgence in Russia

In the case of Pussy Riot, the process of provocation illustrates how a feminist protest might energise an anti-feminist right wing movement without spurring a parallel resurgence of feminist mobilisation. Examining how and why “Pussy Riot” was circulated by these groups and others, I argue, shows the potential value and risks of provocation as a tactic for activists with few resources and marginalised causes.

American Ethnologist (2018): Review of Mapping Feminist Anthropology in the Twenty-First Century (Ellen Lewin and Leni M. Silverstein, eds.).

To do feminist anthropology is to be frustrated—and that’s a good thing. Frustration emerges out of the clash between feminism as an often factional politics and feminist anthropology as a kind of scholarship about a particular field: women’s lives in distinct places.

Canadian Slavonic Papers (2017): Review of Youth Politics in Putin’s Russia: Producing Patriots and Entrepreneurs (Julie Hemment).

Anthropology Today* (2016): Wake up, Russia! Political activism and the reanimation of agency


Ph.D. Dissertation (2015): “Schisms and Solidarities: Feminism, LGBT Rights, and Reclaiming Politics on Russia’s New Left”

"Unity in struggle, and not in disempowerment"

“Unity in struggle, and not in disempowerment”

Set within the broader landscape of the mass protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin that swept Moscow beginning in 2011, my dissertation was an ethnography of micro-conflicts among protesters. Rather than analyze the “failure” of the protests to unseat Putin, I instead examined the mass mobilization as a site of self-transformation and contentious solidarity-building, drawing on research I conducted with young feminist, LGBT, and leftist activists in Moscow. Situating my ethnographic data in the context of international shifts in power, including the withdrawal of Western development aid and the Kremlin’s attempt to construct itself as a global power in opposition to Western liberalism, I argued for an understanding of deliberate conflict as a productive, but risky strategy for marginalized social groups for whom authoritarianism and repression are everyday experiences.

In the first half of the dissertation, I showed how the nationalist rhetoric and biopolitical policies that are often assumed to help legitimize the Russian state, such as its vocal defense of “traditional values” and its pro-natalism, in fact prompt dissent and unruliness among those whose experience of life falls short of what government guarantees promised. The second half of the dissertation turned to an event-focused analysis of the contentious strategies feminist and LGBT activists use as they struggle for recognition and belonging on Russia’s left and in the broader opposition. Their work transforms “apolitical” opposition actions into opportunities to cultivate unruliness, feminism, and tolerance for queerness, along with strengthened senses of agency and social connection, among their fellow citizens.

Access my dissertation on ProQuest. Don’t have access to an expensive academic database? Send me an email at jfmason () gmail () com for a copy!

* Peer-reviewed