PhD Topic/Title: Nationalism as an engaged ideology: Negotiating dilemmas of national continuity in Kazan and Ekaterinburg


Academic career

  • Royal Geographical Society Dudley Stamp Memorial Award, £500 for PhD fieldwork (2018)
  • T S Shipman Prize for development of co-operation and aid between Loughborough University and the local community (2018)
  • Ede and Ravenscroft Postgraduate Prize, £1500 for PhD fieldwork in Russia (2017)
  • ESRC Festival of Social Science grant, £1000 for university-community partnership event ‘Our   Nation’s Future: Loughborough Youth Creative Visions’ (2017)
  • Loughborough University PhD Studentship (2017-2020)
  • Institute of Armenian Studies, University of Southern California, project grant $4500 (2016)  

Professional responsibilities

  • Committee member, Loughborough University Political Action Research Group, co-developed ‘Re-Imagining Citizenship Activity Book’ for public exhibition (2019)
  • Co-chair, postgraduate session sponsored by the Political Geography Research Group at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) Annual Conference (2018)
  • Postgraduate Representative, RGS Political Geography Research Group (2017-18)
  • Co-organiser, Loughborough University Nationalism Network International Postgraduate Research Conference on Nations and Nationalism (2018)
  • Co-organiser, ‘Our Nation’s Future: Loughborough Youth Creative Visions’, a public exhibition of youth artwork on post-Brexit future and a roundtable event at Loughborough University, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the Festival of Social Science (2017) 


Leila’s research interests concern nationalism, memory and identity, with a particular focus on the post-Soviet region. She is currently working towards her PhD thesis, entitled: Nationalism as an engaged ideology: Negotiating dilemmas of national continuity in Kazan and Ekaterinburg. Based on an understanding of nationalism as an ideology and drawing on social psychological theories of ideological dilemmas, this thesis puts forward an approach to nationalism as an ‘engaged ideology’ that operates through the active negotiation of dilemmas around its key principles. In particular, the thesis focuses on dilemmas concerning national continuity in contexts of change. The idea that nations continue indefinitely over time is a fundamental principle of nationalist ideology, reproduced in vernacular discourse as well as in politics, historiography and popular culture. However, little is known of how this principle is reconciled with the modern value of progress or with lived experiences of societal change. Addressing this gap is particularly important for understanding the workings of nationalism in communities affected by rapid globalisation processes resulting from political transitions, of which post-Soviet Russia provides a pertinent example. Russia’s historical ethnic diversity and ethno-national territorialisation also bring into play the potential for tensions between minority and majority nationalisms in narratives of national continuity and change. Based on fieldwork conducted in 2017-18 in the cities of Kazan and Ekaterinburg, the thesis aims to identify key features of public and vernacular narratives of the continuity of the Russian and Tatar nations, to establish what such narratives achieve and to consider their implications for the evolution of nationalism in societies undergoing change.

Key publications