Dr. Sabine von Löwis and Prof. Dr. Gwendolyn Sasse

Political Orientations and Identities in De Facto States

Dr. Sabine von Löwis and Prof. Dr. Gwendolyn Sasse

Political Orientations and Identities in De Facto States

Sabine von Löwis

Project description

This study is part of an interdisciplinary project led by John O’Loughlin (University of Colorado Boulder) with Gerard Toal (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University), Kristin Bakke (University College London) and Marlene Laruelle (George Washington University). It is funded jointly by the USA’s National Science Foundation, the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, and ZOiS.

This project explores political attitudes, geopolitical orientations and identities arising from diverse social, economic, cultural and/or political networks, practices and interests of the populations of de facto states. The aim is to gain a better understanding of societal and socio-spatial practices under the specific conditions of international non-recognition.

Over the past 10 years, the research team has conducted quantitative surveys in de facto states in the post-Soviet space and in the conflict region in eastern Ukraine. This allows comparative analysis of various social, political and economic developments in 2010, 2014 and 2019/20 within and across the de facto states and conflict regions. The study thus links in with Sabine von Löwis’s project Everyday Life in Conflict – Scopes for Action and Coping Strategies in De Facto States and Gwendolyn Sasse’s project on Identities in Times of Crisis: the Case of Ukraine.


  • Collection and statistical analysis of survey data
  • Contextual research on political, economic and societal developments
  • Ethnographic field research on the ‘line of contact’ in Donbas

Key questions

  • How are economic, political and social conditions changing in the de facto states?
  • How are these changes perceived by their populations and integrated into everyday life? 
  • What factors shape the identities of the people who live in de facto states?

Project coordination

[Translate to Englisch:]
Einstein Professor for the Comparative Study of Democracy and Authoritarianism at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin