Member Spotlight: Interview with Roman Hlatky
Roman Hlatky: University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D. Candidate)
- Hlatky, Roman. 2021. “EU Funding and Euroskeptic Vote Choice,” Political Research Quarterly.
- Csata, Zsombor, Roman Hlatky, and Amy H. Liu. 2021. “How to head count ethnic minorities: validity of census surveys versus other identification strategies,” East European Politics.
Areas of Interest in Slovak Studies: Political Parties; Voting Behavior, Nationalism
When/how did you first develop an interest in Slovak or Slovak-area studies?
I had the good fortune of being a child of the Czecho-Slovak split. My mother is Czech and my father is Slovak. Though we emigrated to the U.S. when I was young, I spent almost all of my summers either in Nové Mesto nad Váhom or Hradec Králové. I’m pretty sure these summers – spent crossing that magically reappearing and disappearing border – shaped my interests in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic. As these states joined the European Union, I vividly remember seeing all the “brought to you by the European Union” billboards and posters that accompanied infrastructure projects. Looking back on it, it was probably these posters that stoked my academic interests.
What is your current research/work project?
I am finishing up my dissertation on international influence over voting behavior. Essentially, I consider how actors outside of the domestic state shape individual decisions at the ballot box. More specifically, and as it pertains to Slovakia, my work considers how European Union influence, and Russian disinformation efforts shape support for nationalist political parties. Some of my work on the EU appears in my article “EU Funding and Euroskeptic Vote Choice” published in Political Research Quarterly. I also published some preliminary findings on Russian disinformation in Slovakia through a partnership with Global Focus and the U.S. Embassy in Slovakia (available here).
Please say a few words about any activities or projects you’re involved in that link academia with society at large.
During the 2019-20 academic year, I was fortunate enough to be a Fulbright Fellow in the Slovak Republic. The experience was invaluable for my research but more importantly, I had the chance to meet and work with so many impressive scholars in Slovakia. In my fieldwork, I also interviewed representatives of Mareena – a Slovak NGO that supports the integration of migrants in Slovakia. These interviews actually led to a collaborative project. As part of Mareena’s research team, I lead an EU-funded project that investigates the economic integration of non-EU migrants in Slovakia. To put it bluntly, these individuals do not have it easy when it comes to navigating Slovak bureaucracy, finding employment, and integrating in Slovakia. Thus, we hope findings from our project will help convince policy-makers to improve the situation.
I also hope that my research on disinformation can inform policy. That is why I partnered with Global Focus and the U.S. Embassy in Slovakia to write the short policy brief on disinformation that I mention above. Hopefully, it will be available as a full academic study soon.
What Slovakia-related book or article would you recommend to readers who wish to learn more about some of Slovakia’s most pressing issues?
I would highly recommend that people interested in Slovakia read the work published by Grigorij Mesežnikov, Olga Gyárfášová, and the rest of the team at the Institute of Public Affairs (Inštitút pre verejné otázky). For a more security-oriented take, I also recommend many of the studies published by the Globesec Policy Institute. Finally, early on in my academic career, I read three books that I would recommend to students of Slovak electoral politics:
- Abby Innes’ Czechoslovakia: the Short Goodbye
- Kevin Deegan-Krause’s Elected Affinities
- Carol Skalnik Leff’s National Conflict in Czechoslovakia
What is your favorite place in Slovakia to visit and why?
Having spent most of my summers there, I’m very fond of the areas around Nové Mesto nad Váhom. I particularly like visiting all the castles: Beckov, Čachtice, Tematín and, of course, Trenčín Castle. The spa towns of Pieštany and Trenčianske Teplice are also beautiful and worth visiting.