My current research program consists of three projects on Baltic post-communist transformations, labor resistance in East-Central Europe and historical materialist concepts:
State, Capital and Labor in Baltic Post-Communist Transformations
This research strand builds on my doctoral thesis to investigate the conditions and processes undergirding the economic sociology of post-communist change in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Aided by a historical materialist approach, I seek to unearth the vectors of continuity in the forms of class-constituted rule, study the processes conducive to the exasperation of geographical and social unevenness and center attention on intra- and inter-class conflicts that shaped the trajectories of change. The research project sheds light on previously unexplored themes ranging from the origins of neoliberalism in the Baltics, currency and monetary reforms as exemplary of authoritarian neoliberal statecraft to labor resistance in the episodes of privatization, the modalities of 2008-2011 crisis management, and the rise of far-right in Estonia.
Cartographies of Eastern European Labor Unrest in the 1990s
The project pursues the leitmotif of under-explored instances of labor resistance against and its capacity to shape (and at times even reverse) neoliberal restructuring at the heyday of post-communist transformation. Informed by the interviews with labor activists, trade union members and academics across East-Central Europe as well as primary sources such as independent publications addressing labor affairs, preliminary research shows that the reliance on official strike statistics is untenable insofar as it exaggerates the extent of ‘apathy from below’. The ethnographic forms of enquiry at the heart of this research aspire to reconsider and challenge such assumptions.
Revisiting the 'Mode of Production': Enduring Controversies over Labor, Exploitation and Historiographies of Capitalism
The collaborative project with Kayhan Valadbaygi revisits once-thriving historical materialist debates on the conceptualization of the mode of production and domestic (household) labor. It is comprised of three inter-related themes. First, the re-examination of the concept of the mode of production by looking at several aspects of the debate including emergence and periodization of capitalism, the ‘schools’ of social formation/articulation and categories of ‘free’ and ‘unfree’ labor, ‘market dependence’ and ‘merchant capital’. Second, the complexity of the domestic labor debate approached through the lenses of the role of the body in the emergence of capitalism, the interiority between production and social reproduction and household labor as productive or non-productive of value and surplus value. Third, the evaluation of the notion of uneven and combined development as a conceptual tool for analysis of the expansion of capitalism, its relation to the notions of the mode of production and by extension domestic labor, its promises for non-Eurocentric historiography and the critique of its applications.