Seonhee Kim

Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Russian Politics
Columbia University
12th Floor, International Affairs Building
212 854-4623
Seonhee Kim specializes in the politics of authoritarian and hybrid regimes in the region of Russia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in December 2019.Kim’s work broadly speaks to the field of comparative politics and political economy, mainly covering the topics of state repression, social movements, judicial politics, authoritarian electoral institutions, space security, and the welfare state. Her doctoral research focused on judicial measures used to repress civil society in Russia since the Bolotnaya protest in 2012. The dissertation project investigates how the use of officially established procedures for the state’s coercion in the pursuit of regime legitimacy results in an unexpectedly moderate level of repression. The case of Russia reveals that the preexisting institutional structure of the repressive apparatus as a whole prefers quantity over quality in the direction of avoiding bureaucratic liability, dictating the terms of investigation, prosecution, and, finally, courts’ rulings. The confluence of the repressive laws and the preexisting institutional inertia results in a proliferating rate of convictions with light punishment, accounting for the relatively mild level of coercion.
At the Harriman Institute, Kim will work on converting her doctoral dissertation into a book on state repression in contemporary authoritarian regimes, with the addition of cases from comparative states. Other ongoing research projects probe the role of the judiciary in the state’s response to dissent movements in Russia; the strategies for informational control to manage popular discourse. Seonhee Kim has presented her research at several conferences, such as International Junior Workshop for Slavic and Eurasian Studies at UCL, U.K (2016), Post-Communism 25+ at OSCE, Issuk Kul, Kyrgyzstan, (2016), MPSA, Chicago (2018), REECAS NW at UW (2018), and APSA, Washington D.C. (2019).