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Sociology: People


Liliana Riga

Liliana Riga
Dr Liliana Riga
6.24 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh SCOTLAND EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 1853

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • On Research Leave 2017


Ph.D. Sociology (McGill University)

M.A. Political Science (Columbia University)

B.A. Political Science (University of California, Berkeley)


  • Race and Ethnicity (Undergraduate/Postgraduate)
  • Sociology 1A: 'Black Lives / White Lives' (Undergraduate)


  • critical race/ethnicity and racism
  • refugee youth, discrimination and displacement
  • US ethnic / racial inequalities
  • nationalism and nation-building

My research seeks to understand racial and ethnic relationships and inequalities in diverse and politically complex societies. I am currently working on two projects. The first is a book, The Americanization Moment and Modern American Inequalities. It explores the historical formation of current US ethnic/racial inequalities – which I locate in ‘the Americanization moment’ or 1890-1930 – as I attempt a reinterpretation of the sociology of nation, race and civil society in a crucial moment in US history. With large-scale white immigrant labour from Europe and black migration from the South to the cities of the North, nation-building’s white nationalism radically reshaped race and immigration politics, the cultural role of labour, the emerging welfare state, and the US’s re-dimensioned civil society - all with echoes that can be seen today. This project also includes the curation of an original large-scale historical statistical data-set (with Y. Shimohira-Calvo) on labour, race, citizenship and immigration between 1880-1905 – a resource for researchers which will be made publically-available. Work on the ongoing project can be found here:

My second project examines the emotional and institutional consequences of discrimination and racism faced by displaced youth in Beirut, Lebanon. Together with a research team of colleagues and PhD students, and funded by the British Academy, we aim to take a fuller measure of the emotions and challenges associated with experiences of institutionalized discrimination, and everyday racialized bullying and micro-aggressions. We ask: what might be the emotional experience of being both ‘refugee/displaced’ and an ethnic outsider? How can we better understand the emotional costs involved in this experience and the resilience strategies the youth adopt? How might we create greater empathetic and institutional space to enable them to share their stories and experiences? We explore this through focus groups and through creative and artistic workshops with displaced youth. These workshops culminated in the recent creation of a large-scale mural in Beirut, in which we asked displaced youth to speak to their city. In capturing their voices in drawings, this beautiful mural by Beiruti graffiti artist 'Exist', sought to give their expressions their own small public space – for all Beirut to see.

Mural Beirut

Select Publications


(in preparation) The Americanization Moment and Modern American Inequalities

(forthcoming) J. Kennedy and L. Riga. Nation-Builders: How American Ideas, Practices and Powers Shaped East Central Europe

2012 [2014, paperback] The Bolsheviks and the Russian Empire New York: Cambridge University Press [Chinese Edition under review]

Articles / chapters

[in press] 'How Homogenous Need America be? Nation, Race and Civility' in F. Duina (ed) Hallsian Perspectives on Nation and States, Powers and Civility University of Toronto Press

2016. 'Ethnicity, class and the social sources of U.S. exceptionalism' in Ralph Schroeder (ed) Global Powers: Mann’s Anatomy of the 20th Century and Beyond Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2016. L. Riga and J.A. Hall. 'Jewish Conditions, Theories of Nationalism: Cartographical Notes' Nations and Nationalism 22(2): 371-390

2015. 'Ernest Gellner and the Land of the Soviets' Special Issue of Thesis Eleven 128(1): 100-112

2012. L. Riga and J. Kennedy. ''Putting Cruelty First': War Crimes as Human Rights in US Policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina' Sociology 46(5): 861-75

2009. L. Riga and J. Kennedy. 'Tolerant majorities, loyal minorities and 'ethnic reversals': constructing minority rights at Versailles 1919' Nations and Nationalism 15(3): 461-482

2008/9. 'The Ethnic Roots of Class Universalism: Rethinking the 'Russian' Revolutionary Elite' American Journal of Sociology 114(3): 649-705. Winner of 2009 Honorable Mention Award for Best Article in Comparative Historical Sociology, American Sociological Association

If you are interested in being supervised by Liliana Riga, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Sociology