Anna Zhelnina

Ph.D., Sociology

Research Interests: Urban Studies, Political Sociology, Social  Movements, Urban Politics, Housing, Russia, New York City

Contacts: anna.zhelnina (at)

I come from Saint Petersburg, Russia – a city also known as “the cradle of three revolutions:” probably, its history defined my research interests – urban and political sociology. I got my BA in Social Anthropology at the Saint Petersburg State University, where I started researching urban public space and the transformations of the post-socialist cities. Some of my publications on these topics are available in the Publications section.

I did my MA in Political Science and Sociology at the European University at Saint Petersburg (EUSP): an independent graduate school constantly at risk of being closed by the authorities because of its independence. During the first campaign against the University, along with my fellow student activists, we organized a public protest campaign in defense of the EUSP. This experience stimulated my strong interest for social movements and civic participation in general: why don’t people always mobilize and act collectively when their common good or interest is at risk? Later, I wanted to learn more about the activities of the civil society in Saint Petersburg and worked as deputy chief editor and correspondent for “” – a resource reporting on the non-profits and grassroots in the city.

In 2009-2014, I taught at the Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg and worked as a researcher at the Center for Youth Studies there, working on the MYPLACE – Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement project. In 2011-2014, I was a recipient of the Andrew Gagarin Fellowship at the Andrew Gagarin Center for Civil Society and Human Rights and taught at Smolny College/ Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Saint Petersburg State University).

In August 2020, I defended my Ph.D. dissertation “Engaging Neighbors: Housing Strategies and Political Mobilization in Moscow’s Renovation” at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Committee members: James M. Jasper (Chair), Sharon Zukin, Philip Kasinitz, Jan Willem Duyvendak.

I work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria). I study urban politics and the challenges of engaging diverse residents in urban redevelopment processes.