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Renata Mustafina

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Postgraduate Associate (pending doctoral degree)

Renata Mustafina is a PhD candidate in comparative political sociology at Sciences Po in Paris and a Postgraduate Associate at the MacMillan Center at Yale. She is interested in legal and human rights mobilizations in situations of politicized justice in both democratic and authoritarian contexts. In her thesis and book project, she addresses these mobilizations taking the case of protest-related trials in Russia, going beyond interpretations of this phenomena from above. She has done extended field research, combining ethnography of courtrooms and in-depth interviews with defense actors - criminal defense attorneys, human rights lawyers, human rights defenders, journalists, experts, activists. She argues that the defense actors are relevant and do have a room for maneuver even in politicized trials, despite the commonly perceived near-certainty of their outcomes. This research addresses these actors’ inventiveness in the situation of their structural weakness, their legal and extra-legal repertoire to face the repressive moves of law enforcement bodies. Renata is also conducting a project on the category of a «political prisoner» in contemporary Russia, its historicity and the way it’s being negotiated within the field of human rights expertise today. 


Renata got her M.A. in social sciences from Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris (2016) and a “specialist” degree in international relations from Moscow State University (2013). Her PhD research has been supported by the Sciences Po graduate school, the center of French-Russian studies of Moscow (CEFR) and the Harriman Carnegie grants. She was a visiting research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (ICSID) at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow in the Fall 2018. She has taught classes at Sciences Po and University of Paris-Nanterre in Paris in comparative political sociology and in Russian politics, law, and human rights. 

Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies