- Corruption and Informality
- Socio-Legal Approaches to Migration
- Muslim Identities in Prison Contexts
- Islamic Public Administration
- Law and Society in Central Asia
- Russian and Post-Soviet Studies
Rustam works at the intersection of sociology of law and ethnography, studying migration, corruption, governance and penal institutions in the context of Russia and Central Asia.
1) The Political Economy of Non-Western Migration Regimes: Migration and Legal Informality in Russia and Turkey. Palgrave (contract signed, forthcoming 2021)
The book proceeds from the observation that migrant’s experiences and relationship with the host country’s laws and institutions under non-Western, non-democratic regimes reflects a new pattern of migrant legal incorporation and adaptation, combining some repressive and some liberal elements, in which corrupt political system and weak rule-of-law empower migrants to navigate the structural constraints imposed by the repressive immigration legal regime, and dominant immigrant incorporation frameworks have reduced applicability. It aims to analyze examples of migrant’s legal adaptation strategies patterned on this design from a functional perspective, placing them in broad socio-legal and political context, and observing them, as far as possible, from the perspective of migrant workers experiencing the corrupt and weak-rule-of-law environment and whose interactions with government bodies and labor market actors are organized by them. However, rather than dismissing migrants’ informal and illegal strategies as instances of corruption and bad governance, the book aims to view and assess these performances as the actual migrant legal incorporation and adaptation patterns in non-Western, non-democratic migrant-receiving contexts. These processes are analyzed through the multi-sited ethnographic study of migrant illegality and legal adaptation strategies in Russia and Turkey, between January 2014 through September 2019. I focused on these two countries motivated by the fact that they represent (a) non-democratic regimes, (b) non-Western migration locales, as well as (c) the largest recipients of migrants worldwide that will allow for comparative understanding of migrant legal adaptation and incorporation in non-Western migration regimes.
2) Law, Society and Corruption: Lessons from the Post-Soviet Context, Abingdon: Routledge (contract signed, forthcoming 2021)
A book project on the role of society’s informal norms and ‘non-monetary currencies’ in the emergence, explanation, persistence and ubiquitousness of corruption. It investigates corruption beyond the established paradigms, showing that that people engage in informal or illegal transactions not just to satisfy their economic needs but also to fulfil their family and kinship obligations, socialise and maintain membership in their community, avoid gossips and social sanctions and get more moral and affective support from those around them. The central argument of the book is that the measures and tools adopted to understand and combat corruption should go beyond a merely economistic view and (Western-centric) normative approaches and that, to convince people to act within the realms of state law, a structure replacing not only economic opportunity but also reducing the gap between state law and society’s informal norms and rules (the “living law”) should be put into place.
Second author on this book project: Associate Professor Måns Svensson
3) Central Asian Muslim Prisoners in Russian Penal Institutions
Drawing on extensive fieldwork among migrants from Uzbekistan who have served prison sentences in the Russian Federation, the project analyses the everyday practices of Central Asian Muslim prisoners in Russian penal institutions. The special emphasis is placed on Muslim prisoners’ religious practices, ethnic identities and their interaction with the traditional Russian prison sub-cultures. This project is part of the ERC-funded “Gulag Echoes” project led by Professor Judith Pallot, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki.
4) Central Asian Law: Legal Cultures and Business Environments in Central Asia
Over the last two decades, economic relations between the EU and the five post-Soviet Central Asian republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) have evolved around two parallel and contradictory patterns. On the one hand, due to the efforts of the EU, economic relations and inter-dependence have increased and the presence of EU companies in the region has expanded significantly. On the other hand, inconsistent business ethics standards - and the peculiar way in which rule of law is interpreted and applied in the region, also called “the local way of doing business” have hindered and limited the role of foreign companies in the region. Building on recent political developments leading to the opening up of previously closed and inaccessible countries, CENTRAL ASIAN LAW is a research and training programme that aims to promote greater understanding and explanation of the interconnections between legal cultures, local business environments and governance in Central Asia. This will enable the CENTRAL ASIAN LAW team to: 1) produce new empirical knowledge on legal cultures and business ethics in the region; 2) engage with, and challenge, existing theoretical paradigms within socio-legal studies, law, economic and business sciences, Central Asian studies (post-Soviet studies, more generally) and governance scholarship; 3) provide strategic intelligence for business actors interested or already operating in the region; 4) inform international organizations and decision makers in the EU and Central Asia on possible ways to improve the business and investment climate, the rule of law and governance in the region
The project is funded by the European Commission H2020 MSCA - RISE Programme. Project budget: € 1.1 million
Selected Publications in English
- Migration and Hybrid Political Regimes Navigating the Legal Landscape in Russia [University of California Press] (2020)
- Living Law, Legal Pluralism, and Corruption in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan. The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law (2013)