What are your research topics?
I am a legal researcher with a strong interest in legal histories, gender, and sexuality. For the past twenty years, I have been looking at how our pasts influence and shape our current responses to inequalities and lack of social justice.
I am particularly interested in understanding and explaining the relationship between various political regimes and gender inequalities; issues such as how and why violence against women continues to occur despite international commitment to gender equality and social justice.
At the same time, my focus on post-Soviet law and, specifically, on Russian law and administration, allows illuminating the problematic position of women in countries that, despite formal commitments to gender equality, continue to discriminate against women. They use their Soviet past of achievements in gender equality to justify discriminatory practices.
Where and how does your research topic have an impact?
In our societies, we experience law almost every day even without realising it. The requirement to tick a box to state if you are male or female (or ‘other’ in the best-case scenario) pushes us to re-affirm our gender identity, often as a legal obligation.
Legal systems in general are particularly difficult to change to accommodate diversity and equality. When the legislation changes, the framework often stays the same.
In my research and work, critically assessing the potential capacity for a legal system to change corresponds directly to the actual help women can receive in real life: to prevent sexual harassment, to deal with the aftermath of domestic abuse, and to be able to stand against sexism.
In my field, feminist legal scholars are often activists who take action by pushing for social and political change through their research.
What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?
With Russian aggression against Ukraine, understanding the region and post-Soviet legal choices are crucial for understanding the causes of instability and ways for possible peace building.
Women, peace, and security (WPS) research as well as feminist foreign policy (FFP) research are two main frameworks allowing us to dig deeper and expose warring as particularly damaging to women and girls.
Scholars have shown how toxic and militarised masculinities contribute to the escalation and aggravation of conflicts. They lead to a particularly devastating type of warfare which we have seen in Ukraine in the past year. After all, world peace is only possible without violence against women.
Marianna Muravyeva is Professor of Russian Law and Administration at the Faculty of Arts.