Professor Albena Azmanova

Professor of Political and Social Science
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Professor Albena Azmanova


Albena Azmanova is Professor of Political and Social Science. She teaches courses in political and social theory, political communication, and political economy. She is the author of numerous academic publications, political commentaries and policy reports dealing with the crisis of democracy, the rise of populism, and threats to the rule of law.
Professor Azmanova was educated in Bulgaria, France and the United States and has held academic positions at Science Po. Paris and the New School for Social Research in New York, as well as research fellowships at Harvard University, U.C. Berkeley, the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, and at the Hoover Chair for Social and Economic Ethics at C.U. Leuven.
She has worked in an advisory capacity for a number of international institutions, most recently for the European Parliament as co-author of the reports Binding the Guardian: On the European Commission’s Failure to Safeguard the Rule of Law (with Bethany Howard, 2021) and The Great Shift – from a Broken World to Sustainable Wellbeing (as a member of the Independent Commission for Sustainable Equality, 2021).
Professor Azmanova’s research and teaching are animated by her political activism. She participated 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 is co-founder and editor-in-chief (with James Chamberlain) of Emancipations: A Journal of Critical Social Analysis, consulting editor of Philosophy and Social Criticism, editorial associate of Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, an associate editor of Review of Evolutionary Political Economy, and member of the International Advisory Board of the "Alternatives to Capitalism in the 21st Century" series of Bristol University Press.  

Research interests

Dr Azmanova’s research bridges political theory and sociology and centres 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 (Columbia U.P.,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 U. P. 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. The book has received numerous awards, among which the 2021 Michael Harrington Book Award, with which the American Political Science Association “recognizes an outstanding book that demonstrates how scholarship can be used in the struggle for a better world”; the International Studies Association’s 2022 Best Book Prize in International Political Economy, as well as an Honourable Mention for the 2021 Susan Strange Best Book Prize of the British International Studies Association. 

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
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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