Wilson Center Experts

Margarita M. Balmaceda

Kennan Institute

Economics and Globalization
Energy Security
Russia and Eurasia
Professor, School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University
Wilson Center Project(s):
"Chains of Value, Chains of Power: Russian Energy, Value Chains and the Remaking of Social Relations from Vladivostok to Brussels"
Sep 08, 2015
May 26, 2016

Margarita M. Balmaceda (MA, PhD, Princeton) is Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University and research Associate at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. Supported by, among others, three Fulbright grants and a Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship from the European Union, she has conducted extensive field research in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, and Hungary. Using original-language local materials, her work develops a view “from inside” of  complex international political economy problems affecting the post-Soviet states, in particular energy politics issues. She is the author of, among others, Energy Dependency, Politics and Corruption in the Former Soviet Union (Routledge, 2008), Living the High Life in Minsk: Russian Energy Rents, Domestic Populism and Belarus’ Impending Crisis (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2014), and The Politics of Energy Dependency: Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania Between Domestic Oligarchs and Russian Pressure (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013), a 2015 Choice Outstanding Academic Title awardee.

Project Summary

This book project brings insights from anthropology, critical geography and economics to ask: how can natural resources be used as means of international power? Russia’s case as key energy supplier to both post-Soviet states and the EU can shed much light on this question. Discussions of Russia’s use of energy power as a state-held “weapon” abound, yet such framing neglects the role of other actors, and of differences between energy sources.  In contrast, this book focuses on how the material specificities of different energy sources (coal, oil, gas, renewables) help organize social relations throughout the entire value-added chain from producer to end-user. As case studies the project analyzes the exemplary value chains of three key hydrocarbon exports from Russia to the EU: oil, gas and coal; additional chapters tackle how the renewables and unconventional hydrocarbons (“fracking”) revolution may disrupt old social forms and create new ones.

Major Publications

The Politics of Energy Dependency: Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania Between Domestic Oligarchs and Russian Pressure. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013

Corruption, Intermediary Companies, and Energy Security: Lithuania's Lessons for Central and Eastern Europe, 55(4), 16-28, July 2008

Energy Dependency, Politics and Corruption in the Former Soviet Union: Russia's Power, Oligarchs' Profits and Ukraine's Missing Energy Policy, 1995-2006. London, Routledge, illustrated edition, 2008

Understanding Repression in Belarus (book chapter). In Robert Rotberg (Ed), "The Worst of the Worst: Rogue and Repressive States in the World Order", 193- 222, Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, August 2007

Some Thoughts on Rents of Energy Dependency, ‘Rent-seeking Swamps,’ and Political Development: the Ukrainian case in Comparative Perspective,” circulated for discussion at the Workshop on Post-Communist Politics and Economics. Harvard University, 29, March 2006

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