My current research programme consists of three projects on Baltic post-communist transformations, labour resistance in East-Central Europe and historical materialist concepts:
State, Capital and Labour 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 centre 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 labour resistance in the episodes of privatisation, the modalities of 2008-2011 crisis management, and the rise of far-right in Estonia.
Cartographies of Eastern European Labour Unrest in the 1990s
The project pursues the leitmotif of under-explored instances of labour 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 labour activists, trade union members and academics across East-Central Europe as well as primary sources such as independent publications addressing labour 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 Labour, Exploitation and Historiographies of Capitalism
The collaborative project with Kayhan Valadbaygi revisits once-thriving historical materialist debates on the conceptualisation of the mode of production and domestic (household) labour. 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 periodisation of capitalism, the ‘schools’ of social formation/articulation and categories of ‘free’ and ‘unfree’ labour, ‘market dependence’ and ‘merchant capital’. Second, the complexity of the domestic labour 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 labour 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 labour, its promises for non-Eurocentric historiography and the critique of its applications.