My research interests include civil conflict, post-civil war reconstruction, human rights and state repression, war recurrence, dynamics of authoritarianism and democratization, great power politics and small states, and environmental politics often with a regional focus on the post-Soviet world, the Middle East, and East European Politics. I pursue these research interests by employing a multi-method design, which includes large-n regression analysis, machine learning techniques, social media analysis, text as data methods, interviews, small-n case studies, experimental design, and content analysis.

My dissertation uses a multimethod approach to explore why states repress sexual minorities and when western support undermines gay activism. I argue that Western support for LGBTQ+ rights and movements tends to undermine gay activism and leads to state repression against sexual minorities when it produces reputation costs for LGBTQ+ groups. Western support leads to increased reputation costs and backlash under three conditions. First, it happens when Western democracies support gay activism in overtly anti-Western illiberal regimes. These regimes already oppose Western-led 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. Western support to gay activism provides these anti-western regimes an ‘opportunity’ to label homosexuality as ‘western-imported’ and stand up against the Western-led world order. Second, Western support backfires in societies with anti-Western sentiments and a history of Western imperialism. Since Western support for gay activism and gay rights is viewed as a new form of Western imperialism, gay rights movements that receive Western support are often treated as ‘agents’ of Western imperialism. Third, Western support exacerbates violence against LGBTQ+ people when mainstream society embraces traditional values, which gives rise to ‘protectors’ of these values and leaders willing and able to repress sexual minorities. By testing these propositions using large-n regression analysis, a case study, process tracing, interviews with gay activists, survey experiments, and content analysis, my project contributes to broader fields of state repression and social movements. It advances the literature by demonstrating that external support does not necessarily lead to improvements in human rights and democracy outcomes, and specifies the conditions under which it helps and harms.

My dissertation contributes to the literature in three ways. First, it adds to the state repression literature by moving beyond the classic repression-dissent nexus, which tells little about why governments resort to repressive measures against certain vulnerable groups. 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 fails to explain repression against sexual minorities. I demonstrate that sexual minorities face repression for reasons mainly related to global and domestic politics rather than the threat they pose to the state. Second, my dissertation advances the literature on external support and democratic outcomes. While the literature has explored the relationship between economic aid, external economic ties, and human rights conditions and state repression, how support from Western democracies produces different outcomes for vulnerable sexual group rights and state repression has not been systematically examined. My findings suggest that Western support for gay activism sometimes contributes to an enhancement of rights for LGBTQ+ people, but it can also undermine gay activism in other places and times. Western support does not necessarily help or harm gay activists, but its effect depends on several of the hypothesized conditions in the target country.

Finally, my dissertation contributes to the literature by linking domestic and external explanations for state repression and demonstrating how the interaction of external support with domestic factors can lead to the repression of sexual minorities and a backlash against gay rights. It theorizes and tests the specific conditions under which Western support increases and decreases the likelihood of success for gay rights in non-democratic settings and draws new connections between the external and domestic sources of state repression and gay activism. I am currently working on converting my large-n regression analysis of state repression against sexual minorities into a journal article for submission. At the same time, I am preparing a new article that will present a comparative case study of Russia and Turkey, and I will use content analysis of state-controlled media.


Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • Abbasov, Namig. “Antigovernment Protests and Commitment to Democratic Principles.” Problems of Post-Communism (2021): 1-15.
  • Abbasov, N., and Siroky, D. S. (2018). Joining the club: Explaining Alliance Preferences in the South Caucasus’ for Publication in Caucasus Survey, Caucasus Survey (awarded the Preregistration Prize from the Center for Open Science).
  • Souleimanov, E. A., Abbasov, N., & Siroky, D. S. (2018). Frankenstein in Grozny: vertical and horizontal cracks in the foundation of Kadyrov’s rule. Asia Europe Journal, 1-17.

Book Chapters

  • David Siroky and Namig Abbasov, “Secession and Secessionist Movements” in Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science, Ed. Sandy Maisel., Oxford University Press.
  • Namig Abbasov and Emil Souleimanov, “Post-War Situation in Karabakh: Major Issues Preventing Peace and Reconciliation”, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute (CACI) Book Project about The Forty Four-Day War, forthcoming.
  • Abbasov, Namig. “Still Waters Run Deep: Federal, Regional, and Local Dimensions of Conflict in the North Caucasus.” In OSCE Yearbook 2019, pp. 177-188. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, 2020.

Other Publications

  • Abbasov, Namig, and Emil A. Souleimanov. “Azerbaijan, Israel, and Iran: An Unlikely Triangle Shaping the Northern Middle East.” Middle East Policy (2022).
  • Namig Abbasov, “LGBTQ+ Repression during Covid-19 Pandemic”, Global Human Rights Hub.
  • 2021 Namig Abbasov, “Global Backlash against Gay Rights: Why do States Repress Sexual Minorities?”, Global Human Rights Hub.
  • 2020 Namig Abbasov and Emil Souleimanov, “Putin as Pyhrrus Russia in Syria and Libya”, Osteuropa.
  • 2020 Emil Souleimanov and Namig Abbasov, Why Russia Has Not (Yet) Won Over Syria And Libya, Middle East Policy.
  • 2015 Namig Abbasov, “Minsk Group Mediation Process in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Explaining The Failure of Peace Talks”, Journal of Caspian Affairs.
  • 2015 Namig Abbasov, “The Crisis of Multiculturalism in the UK: Has It Failed?”, Caucasus International.
  • 2014 Namig Abbasov, “Iranian Foreign Policy Toward Azerbaijan: Ideology versus Pragmatism”, Journal of Qafqaz University.
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