Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Valerie Sperling

Valerie Sperling, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair
Department of Political Science
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Phone: 508-793-7679

Curriculum Vitae


B.A., Yale University, 1987
M.A., Georgetown University, 1991
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1997

Current Research and Teaching

Sex, Politics, and Putin

Dr. Sperling teaches a variety of courses in comparative politics, including Russian politics; revolution and political violence; mass murder and genocide under communism; transitions to democracy; globalization and democracy; and introduction to women’s studies. Her research interests include globalization and accountability, social movements, gender politics, patriotism and militarism, and state-building in the post-communist region.

Sperling's most recent book, Sex, Politics, and Putin: Political Legitimacy in Russia (Oxford University Press) has been included in Top 10 books on Russia for 2014. It explores the use of gender norms and sexualization in Putin-era Russian politics, with a focus on political youth activists (pro- and anti-Kremlin) and young feminist activists.

Learn more:

Sperling was interviewed about her book, Altered States: The Globalization of Accountability (Cambridge University Press, 2009), on August 20, 2009. Listen to the interview at A Chautauqua (KOPN radio, Columbia Missouri) or download it.



Valerie Sperling, Sex, Politics, & Putin: Political Legitimacy in Russia (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Valerie Sperling, Altered States: The Globalization of Accountability (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Co-recipient of the International Studies Association’s Chadwick Alger Book Prize, 2010.

Valerie Sperling, Organizing Women in Contemporary Russia: Engendering Transition (Cambridge University Press, November 1999).

Valerie Sperling, ed., Building the Russian State: Institutional Crisis and the Quest for Democratic Governance (Westview Press, May 2000).

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

Valerie Sperling, "Nashi Devushki: Gender and Political Youth Activism in Putin's and Medvedev's Russia," Post-Soviet Affairs, Vol. 28, No. 2 (April-June 2012), pp. 232-261.

Valerie Sperling, “Making the Public Patriotic: Militarism and Anti-Militarism in Russia,” in Marlène Laruelle, ed., Russian Nationalism and the National Reassertion of Russia (Routledge, 2009), pp. 218-271.

Valerie Sperling, “Women’s Organizations: Institutionalized Interest Groups or Vulnerable Dissidents?” in Alfred Evans, Lisa McIntosh-Sundstrom, and Laura Henry, eds., Russian Civil Society: A Critical Assessment (M.E. Sharpe, 2006), pp. 161-177. This book received a Choice award in 2006.

Myra Marx Ferree, Valerie Sperling, and Barbara Risman, “Feminist Research and Activism: Challenges of Hierarchy in a Cross-national Context,” in David Croteau, William Hoynes, and Charlotte Ryan, eds., Rhyming Hope and History: Activists, Academics and Social Movement Scholarship (University of Minnesota Press, 2005), pp. 137-156.

Valerie Sperling, “The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel: Patriotism, Militarism, and the Russian National Idea,” Nations and Nationalism, Vol. 9, No. 2 (2003), pp. 235-253.

Valerie Sperling, Myra Marx Ferree, Barbara Risman, “Constructing Global Feminism: Transnational Advocacy Networks and Russian Women’s Activism,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 26, No. 4, (2001), pp. 1156-1186.

Myra Marx Ferree, Barbara Risman, Valerie Sperling, Tatiana Gurikova, Katherine Hyde, “The Russian Women’s Movement: Activists’ Strategies and Identities,” Women & Politics, Vol. 20, No. 3 (1999), pp. 83-109.