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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Liliana Riga

Liliana Riga
Dr Liliana Riga
Postgraduate Advisor; Programme Director, MSc Sociology & Global Change
6.24 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh SCOTLAND EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 1853
Research Interests
Political Sociology, Comparative/Historical Sociology, Race/ethnicity, Nationalism/nationbuilding, Refugees/migration/displacement, American social and ethnic/racial inequalities

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • tba for Autumn 2016


Ph.D. Sociology (McGill University)

M.A. Political Science (Columbia University)

B.A. Political Science (University of California, Berkeley)


  • ‘Race’ and Ethnicity (Undergraduate/Postgraduate)
  • Refugees and Displacement (Undergraduate)
  • Sociology 1A (Undergraduate)
  • Key Concepts in Global Social Change (Postgraduate)
  • Researching Global Social Change (Postgraduate)


  • political sociology; comparative historical sociology
  • 'race' and ethnicity
  • US social and ethnic / racial inequalities
  • immigration; refugees and displacement

I am currently writing a book in political and historical sociology on assimilation, immigration, ‘race’ and social inequalities in American nation building – The Americanization Moment and the Shaping of Modern American Inequalities. It explores the ways in which Americanization’s policies and practices between 1890-1930 ethnically and racially patterned welfare policies and socioeconomic inequalities. And this moment did so in ways that are still evident today. I explore immigrant, foreign-born ‘alien labour’; ‘the colour of labour’ and the cultural shaping of the new working classes, including the exclusions of black labour of the Great Migration; assimilation and patterns of inclusion/exclusion in neighbourhoods and communities; bureaucracies and the new nation’s limits; and social policies and the early creation of a non-risk sharing society.

A second project involves a collection of thematic essays based on oral histories – Obama and I: Everyday Stories of Self, Race and Country. It offers reflections on the complex and intricate ways in which individuals’ senses of connection to Barack Obama’s presidency have shaped their experiences of ‘race’, self, community and country – and what these experiences might mean for wider senses of belonging and connectedness across generations and across America’s ethnic and racial communities. The project draws on individual voices and experiences to create an oral history of everyday thoughts and emotions occasioned by the first African American presidency. I'm currently conducting interviews for a chapter entitled, 'Grieving Obama'.

Earlier research included a book on the Russian Empire and 1917, The Bolsheviks and the Russian Empire. Through interpretive biographical accounts of ethnic marginalities and experiences, I showed how social dislocations and political exclusions enabled reinvention, and a quasi-assimilated way of being in the world that generated its own kind of alienation and political project. With James Kennedy, a second, Leverhulme-funded book project is nearing completion. Making the World Safe for Democracy: the American Century in East Central Europe is a comparative historical exploration of American social thought and policies involving ‘multiethnic democratic nation building’ abroad.

Select Publications


(in preparation) The Americanization Moment and the Shaping of Modern American Inequalities

(in preparation) Making the World Safe for Democracy: the American Century in East Central Europe

2012. The Bolsheviks and the Russian Empire New York: Cambridge University Press [reviewed in American Journal of Sociology, (2013) 119 (3): 863-865]

Articles / Chapters

2016. 'Ethnicity, class and the social sources of U.S. exceptionalism' in Ralph Schroeder (ed) Global Powers: Mann’s Anatomy of the 20th Century and Beyond Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2016. 'Jewish Conditions, Theories of Nationalism: Cartographical Notes' (with John A. Hall) Nations and Nationalism 22(2): 371-390

2015. 'Ernest Gellner and the Land of the Soviets' Special Issue of Thesis Eleven 128(1): 100-112

2013. 'To Build a Notion: US State Department Expertise and Postwar Settlements in 20th century East Central Europe' (with J. Kennedy) Sociological Research Online 18(2)

2012. ''Putting Cruelty First': War Crimes as Human Rights in US Policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina' (with J. Kennedy) Sociology 46(5): 861-75

2009. 'Tolerant majorities, loyal minorities and 'ethnic reversals': constructing minority rights at Versailles 1919' (with J. Kennedy) Nations and Nationalism 15(3): 461-482

2008/9. 'The Ethnic Roots of Class Universalism: Rethinking the 'Russian' Revolutionary Elite' American Journal of Sociology 114(3): 649-705. Winner of 2009 Honorable Mention Award for Best Article in Comparative Historical Sociology, American Sociological Association

If you are interested in being supervised by Liliana Riga, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Sociology