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Location & Connections


Visiting Fellows 2012-2013



Janet Elise Johnson, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, United States

“Crisis Centers, Gender, and Corruption in Russia”
Fellowship period: August 1-31, 2012

Janet Elise Johnson is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Visiting Scholar, Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, New York University.  From 2001-2003, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University in Ohio.  She holds a BA from Duke University and a PhD from Indiana University. Her research has been published in Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Signs: Journals of Women in Culture and Society, NWSA Journal, Politics & Policy, Social Politics, and PS, as well as in edited collections, such as Post-Soviet Women Encountering Transition, Ruling Russia, Russian Civil Society, Domestic Violence in Post-Communist States, and the Aleksanteri Institute’s Gazing at Welfare, Gender and Agency in Post-Socialist Countries. In 2007, she co-edited (with Jean C. Robinson) an anthology, Living Gender after Communism (Indiana University Press). Her most recent book, Gender Violence in Russia: The Politics of Feminist Intervention (Indiana University Press, 2009), analyzes the role of international intervention in the development of the women’s crisis center movement in Russia. 

Abstract of current research:
My current research includes continuing assessment of the women’s crisis centers in Russia and a feminist theory of corruption based on places such as Iceland and Russia. 

While in residence at the Aleksanteri Institute, I will be consulting with the Women, Gender, Agency in Russia in the 2000s (WGA) research team on the closing report which I will edit with Dr. Aino Saarinen and on the one chapter I will write reviewing the development of the crisis centers as an indicator of women’s mobilization.  For scholars interested in Russian gender politics, the emergence of the women’s crisis centers in the early 1990s was one of the most exciting post-Soviet phenomena. These centers, modeled on Western rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters, became the primary site for postcommunist feminist activism as well as a challenge to the shrinking of Russia’s welfare state.  However, as Putin has consolidated power, the movement has radically changed: shrinking, de-radicalizing, and moving into the state.  The objective of this research is to reassess the two decades since the first crisis centers were established in Moscow and St. Petersburg in order to understand why things have changed and to consider what studying the centers tells us about Russia’s commitments to social services and to democracy.  A related project is a draft chapter on gender in St. Petersburg, to be written with Dr. Saarinen, based on a focus group conducted among municipal women’s crisis centers in 2011.

While at the Aleksanteri, I will also be conducting research for my in-progress book on gender and corruption. While corruption is central to many theorists understanding of Russia, there has been very little feminist social science that considers corruption in Russia or elsewhere.  Playing with Richard Sakwa’s notion of the dual state, I suggest that many of the parallel institutions and elites as well as the justifying ideologies of Putin’s regime are gendered, even as more women have entered into formal power under Putin than under Yeltsin and even Gorbachev.  Putin, the siloviki, and the oligarchs are an overwhelmingly male-dominated cabal, who perform various masculinities that counter the imagined subordination of the homo Sovieticus.  Being at the Aleksanteri will help me examine these machinations in Russia.  The goal is to develop a feminist theory of corruption that will be useful in other contexts, reversing the typical direction of applying Western concepts and theories to Russia to suggest insights for the new feminist institutionalism and critical policy studies within comparative political science. 

Email: Johnson [at]
Personal website:

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Aino Saarinen and Meri Kulmala