Marlene Laruelle headshot

The Illiberalism Studies Program is led by Marlene Laruelle, Research Professor of International Affairs and Political Science, and Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES). Trained in political philosophy, she explores how nationalism and illiberal values are becoming mainstream in different cultural contexts. She focuses on Russia’s ideological landscape at home and its outreach abroad. Her latest research project is devoted to illiberalism as a new grassroots political culture in Europe, and its transnational links to both the US and Russia. She has also been working on regional and nationhood issues in Central Asia, as well as on Russia’s Arctic policy. Prof. Laruelle has published widely with Cornell, Oxford, Pittsburgh, and Johns Hopkins University Presses; Routledge, and Palgrave/McMillan, among others. She teaches courses on “Nationalisms in Eurasia,” “Populism and Illiberalism,” and “The Rise of the Far Right,” and leads the new Graduate Specialization in Democracy Studies for the MA in International Affairs.

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John_Chrobak profile

John Chrobak is a Research Program Coordinator for the Illiberalism Studies Program. He has an MA in International Affairs from GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs with a specialization in U.S. Foreign Policy and Eurasian Politics. His work has focused particularly on regional politics and security in Eurasia as well as the use of social media to manipulate and spread information for political influence. More recently, his work has focused on democracy resilience. He has previously worked at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab (DFRLab). He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from McGill University.

Aaron Irion headshot

Aaron Irion  is a Research Program Assistant at the Illiberalism Studies Program. He has an M.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Montana. His work has focused on the political economy of populist, illiberal, and far-right movements, particularly their relationship with social insurance and the welfare state. His research interests include the realignment and dealignment of party systems, post-neoliberalism, the changing nature of working-class politics, populist economics, and much more. Much of his work can be found here.


Cerrone Headshot

Joseph Cerrone is a Postdoctoral Associate at IERES in the Illiberalism Studies Program. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from George Washington University, as well as a B.A. in international relations and Spanish from Saint Joseph’s University. His research investigates how emotionally-resonant political discourse shapes public opinion about immigration, with a specific focus on the far right in Italy and Spain. He also studies how far-right parties and leaders across Europe use discourse to construct shared identities among their followers. His research is methodologically eclectic, employing quantitative text analysis of social media data, survey experiments, and qualitative case studies.

For a list of publications, see:

Sang Kyung Lee is a Postdoctoral Associate at IERES in the Illiberalism Studies Program. Prior to joining GW, he received a Ph.D. (Sociology) from Cornell.

His research is primarily concerned with the social origins and consequences of economic and political crises. His recent projects explore the causal mechanisms underlying varying popular responses to sovereign debt crises and recession and the implications of the unprecedented surge of populism over the past few decades for the quality and stability of democratic governance in the long run.


Gulnaz Sibgatullina (Ph.D., Leiden University) is an IERES Visiting Scholar at George Washington University and a postdoctoral fellow at the School for Regional, Transnational, and European Studies, the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests include the past and present of Islam in Europe, sociology of religion and religious language, and postcolonial (translation) studies. Her current project focuses on the relationship between illiberalism and Islam.

Eszter Kováts

Eszter Kováts (PhD in political science, University ELTE, Budapest, Hungary) is a non-resident associate fellow at the Illiberalism Studies Program, affiliated with the Culture Wars in Europe and Eurasia project. Her research interests include far right and gender, anti-gender and anti-LGBT politics in Europe, political controversies around the term ’gender’, East-West inequalities in Europe and the crisis of care work. Between 2009 and 2019 she worked at the Budapest Office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the political foundation close to the German social democratic party (SPD), between 2012 and 2019 she was responsible for the foundation’s East-Central European gender program.

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Jason Roberts headshot

Jason Roberts is an assistant professor of instruction at the University of Texas at Austin in Religious Studies and in Slavic and Eurasian Studies. His research focuses on religious culture, medieval and Early Modern intellectual history of Christian theology, and Christofascism and Integral Traditionalism. His work on illiberal religion has been published in the Journal of Illiberalism Studies.

Perine Schir headshot

Périne Schir is a full-time Research Fellow at the Illiberalism Studies Program and the Transnational History of the Far Right Project. She is a PhD student in political philosophy and an adjunct professor of International Relations at Rouen University. She holds an MA in Sociology and Philosophy from Rouen University. Her PhD research focuses on political movements that position themselves between the right and the far-right, and the ideological current on which they are built.

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Waller headshot

Julian G. Waller (Ph.D, George Washington University) is a Professorial Lecturer in Political Science at George Washington University, a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, and an Associate Research Analyst in the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses. His research focuses on political institutions in authoritarian regimes, non-democratic regimes in historical perspective, post-Soviet politics, and illiberal politics in Western democracies. His work has been published in Problems of Post-CommunismAmerican Affairs, the Journal of Illiberalism StudiesSocial Media + Society, and the International Journal of Constitutional Law, among others. 

A list of publications can be found here:

GW Faculty Associates

Samuel Goldman is a Resident Senior Fellow at the Illiberalism Studies Program. He is also executive director of the John L. Loeb, Jr. Institute for Religious Freedom and director of the Politics & Values Program. His first book God’s Country: Christian Zionism in America was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2018. His second book, After Nationalism, was published from the University of Pennsylvania Press in early 2021. In addition to his academic research, Goldman’s writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.

Steven Livingston

Steven Livingston is a Resident Senior Fellow at the Illiberalism Studies Program. He is also the Founding Director of the Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics (IDDP) and Professor of Media and Public Affairs. He also hold an appointment in the Elliott School of International Affairs.  In 2019, he led GW’s successful bid for a $5 million grant to found IDDP.  In 2021, Livingston is a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Helsinki in Finland where he holds a new special award of the Finish Fulbright Foundation called Seeking Solutions for Global Challenges.  Over his 30-year career at GW, Livingston has served as the director of the Political Communication Program when it was a degree-granting entity within SMPA (1996 – 2002, 2004 – 2006). In 2004, he served as director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, a position held until August 2006. He also founded the Public Diplomacy Institute (PDI) at GW in 2000 and served as the chairman of the Board of Directors until 2008. PDI is now the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.