Digging into a Political Past with Joanna Koczuk of Harvard College

Joanna Koczuk, Harvard College ’16, researches political uprisings in Eastern Europe both pre- and post-collapse of the the Iron Curtain.

When she declared her concentration in government, Joanna Koczuk decided to take her interests in comparative politics to the research assistant program at Harvard’s Center for European Studies. While there, she has spent this semester going back to her Eastern European roots and working on her academic passion for studying political transitions prior to and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The project she is currently working on is looking to explain the trajectory of post-Soviet republics - in this case, Poland - by looking at the demographic differences in political protests. A Polish herself, Joanna enjoys delving into research written in her native language and investigating how the evolution of various kinds of speech may have impacted later democratic transitions.

Her work, after translating, then includes:

  • detailing the protest by parties involved
  • detailing the protest by factors involved
  • categorizing the protest by time period
  • categorizing the protest geographic location.

Joanna acknowledges the importance of the quantitative research that she is doing in light of the civil unrest taking place in Ukraine over Russian mobilization in Crimea and influence throughout the country. Although these case studies have evolved divergently, she said, the findings from this ongoing question on the nature of political protest and its potential to alter the democratic process carry implications for its neighbors in the long term. In addition to Eastern Europe in a post-Soviet era, Joanna’s other research interests include Latin America, where spent last summer working with an NGO, Fundación Directorio Legislativo, as a press representative studying legislative transparency at the National Congress of Buenos Aires.

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