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Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching (ReSET) "Living outside the law: institutional approaches for studying the extralegal sector in comparative perspective (2009-2010)", 22 June - 10 July, 2009. Deadline: May 1, 2009


Date: 22 June - 10 July, 2009

Site: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Organisers: This two-year teaching and research training seminar, hosted at the National University of Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar) with financial support from the Open Society Institute, will guide participants in learning institutional economics and economic sociology through a series of empirical research projects focused on the extralegal sector.

Participants will meet leading scholars in the field: Hernando de Soto (Peru, to be confirmed), Francisco Thoumi (Columbia), Bruno Dallago (Italy), Alena Ledeneva (the UK), Eric Ulsaner (the US), Anton Oleinik (Canada and Russia) and others.

The training seminar will consist of two summer school sessions (the first is scheduled for 22 June – 10 July, 2009) and two winter intersession workshops.

Deadline for submitting applications and a short research proposal: May 1, 2009.

The training seminar includes lectures, discussions, field trips, preparation of research papers, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and workshops with leading scholars in institutional economics and economic sociology.

The ReSET co-directors will select 20 young academics teaching at the universities and higher education institutions in Mongolia, Russia (Eastern Siberian regions of Chita, Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Buryat Republic and Tuva Republic), Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Successful applicants are required to participate in all activities for the whole duration of the training seminar.

Targets: The two-year training seminar aims to introduce or improve existing undergraduate courses on Economic Sociology, Institutional Economics, Economic Anthropology, and to enhance the interdisciplinary research capacity of young faculty members in the region by providing two three-week intensive seminars on the teaching subjects, conducting research and three visiting sessions at their home departments, and a one-year supervision of their small scale research projects.

List of suggested research topics
  • The ‘colored revolutions’ and other forms of mass protests in post-socialist countries: institutional exclusion is presumably one of their driving forces. Specific research questions to be explored are: Under which conditions do ‘extralegal’ sectors of the market give rise to political mobilization? What are the means and modes in which protest behavior occurs?
  • Comparative studies of extralegal sectors in the regions, concentrated on industries with a significant share of ‘extralegal’ business widespread in most target countries, including: small-scale extralegal retail trade, small-scale extralegal mining, extralegal public transport and taxi service, informal banking institutions, e.g., systems of international fund transfers.
  • Squatting: extralegal neighborhoods and suburbs. This topic is especially revealing for inquiring into the extralegal system of property rights: how they are established, enforced and eventually legalized
  • Blat: informal practices getting things done through networks of personal connections and bypassing official procedures. It will be necessary to choose a particular type of blat transaction (e.g., the provision of medical services) and then compare its institutional organization across the countries
  • Petty corruption: practices of everyday encounters with state servants
  • Illegal drugs: A structural analysis of distribution and consumption networks
  • Guest workers from Central Asia in Russia and in the West: their institutional status, ways of maintaining contacts with families in their home countries
  • Extralegal practices in presumably legal business (moonlighting, cash payments, etc.)

Eligibility criteria

  • At least one year of teaching experience, currently full-time or part-time faculty at a higher education institution in the target region.
  • At least a Master’s degree in sociology, law, anthropology, political science, economics, public policy or relevant fields with a strong background in quantitative and qualitative methods of research.
  • A good command of English, as the language of instruction is English.
  • A commitment to remain teaching at the home university for at least 2-3 years after completing the ReSET training.


For further information, please contact: Narantuya Chuluunbat (cnaran@umd.edu), Otgontugs Banzragch (ob2133@columbia.edu ).


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