Portrait of Dr Albena Azmanova

Dr Albena Azmanova



Dr. Azmanova is Reader (Associate Professor) of Political and Social Thought. She teaches courses in political and social theory, political communication, and political economy. Her research spans issues of justice and judgment, democracy, rule of law and the critique of capitalism.

Dr Azmanova’s research and teaching are  animated by her political activism. She took active participation in the dissident movements that brought down the communist regime in her native Bulgaria in 1987-1990 and has remained engaged with transnational progressive social movements. She has been working as a policy advisor to a number of international institutions such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the European Commission, and Transparency International.

She did her doctoral studies at the New School for Social Research in New York, and taught political theory at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po.) in Paris, before joining the BSIS in 2005, where she directs the programmes International Political Economy and Political Strategy and Communication. She has held positions at the New School for Social Research in New York and Sciences Po. Paris, as well as research fellowships at Harvard University, University of California Berkeley, the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) Vienna, The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, and the Hoover Chair for Social and Economic Ethics, Catholic University of Louvain. 

She is co-founder and editor of Emancipations: A Journal of Critical Social Analysis, Consulting Editor of  Philosophy and Social Criticism and Editorial Associate of Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory and Associate Editor of Review of Evolutionary Political Economy

Dr Azmanova provides policy advice as a member of the Independent Commission for Sustainable Equality of the European Parliament, member of the Advisory Board of the Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS), and member of an expert group to the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS).

Research interests

Dr Azmanova’s research bridges political theory and sociology and centers on three clusters of issues: (1) the transformation of capitalism and related to it changes in political orientation and activism --from electoral mobilisation to protest; (2) rule of law, justice and the political epistemology of judgment; (3) democratic transition and consolidation, with a focus on the post-communist societies of East and Central Europe.

Her first book, The Scandal of Reason: A Critical Theory of Political Judgment (2012) developed a theory of political epistemology, which she then applied to discern the critical and emancipatory power of democratic deliberations. Her subsequent writing has been dedicated to bringing the critique of political economy (back) into critical social theory by scrutinising the mutations of contemporary capitalism. Her last book Capitalism on Edge. How Fighting Precarity Can Achieve Radical Change Without Crisis or Utopia (Columbia University Press, 2020) develops a methodology of critical social analysis and singles out generalised economic and social insecurity (precarity) as the main driver of injustice and discontent in our times. Her proposal that focusing on anti-precarity policies within what she calls a ‘political economy of trust’ can solve the tension between social and environmental justice has received a significant interest in the policy community. 

Dr Azmanova’s research affiliations include:

Member of the Forum on Democratic Participation and the Future of Europe, European University Institute (EUI), School of Transnational Governance

Member of the International Advisory Board of the Bauman Institute for Critical Sociology, University of Leeds

Member of the Executive Board of "Socialism, Capitalism, Democracy" Research Committee, International Political Science Association

Member of the International Advisory Board of the "Alternatives to Capitalism in the 21st Century" series of Bristol University Press

Project affiliate, GCRF COMPASS (Comprehensive Capacity-Building in Eastern Neighbourhood and Central Asia: research integration, impact governance and  sustainable communities)

Advisory Board member, “EU Differentiation, Dominance and Democracy”, ARENA Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo

Member of the Advisory Board of Reset DOC Dialogues on Civilization 

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