My research interests are authoritarian politics and democratization, human rights and state repression, political violence, conflict, international and environmental security, and global governance with a regional focus on the post-Soviet world, Middle East, and East European politics. My research employs both qualitative and quantitative methods including large-n regression, machine learning, experimental design, and small-n studies.

My dissertation examines why some non-democracies repress sexual minorities and when Western support undermines gay activism. I argue that nondemocratic regimes against the liberal world order tend to repress sexual minorities. These anti-Western regimes oppose the liberal world order and are sometimes in geopolitical competition with the West, even though they often have limited economic and political relations with Western democracies. I further argue that anti-Western major powers repress sexual minorities more to advance their geopolitical interests vis-à-vis the West by securitizing homosexuality as “Western-imported”. Anti-Western regimes also become more repressive toward sexual minorities when they have overly conservative societies as political leaders in these countries persecute LGBTQ+ people to augment their support base as the “protector” of traditional values. My research also demonstrates that Western support for gay rights movements tends to undermine gay activism when it produces reputation costs for LGBTQ+ groups and societal backlash in countries with strong anti-Western sentiments and Western colonial history. Leaders in these countries attempt to label LGBTQ+ movements as “agents” of the West to discredit them in mainstream society and consolidate their regimes.

My dissertation project contributes to broader fields of state repression and social movements in three ways. First, in line with the standard logic of coercive responsiveness, scholars have found that ethnic minorities face repression when states perceive them as having the potential in involving in collective action against states in the form of rebellion or insurgency. Yet, this logic tells little about why governments resort to repressive measures against certain vulnerable groups. My research moves beyond this classic repression-dissent nexus and demonstrates that sexual minorities face repression for reasons mainly related to global and domestic politics rather than a threat they pose to state security. Second, my dissertation draws new connections between the external and domestic sources of state repression against sexual minorities and gay activism.  Finally, my dissertation advances the literature on external support and human rights outcomes.


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