PhD in Political Science, 2014, University of Ottawa

Office Hours: Tuesday 13:30-15:30.

Research Areas: Ethnography, religious and national identities, post-Soviet politics.

I joined Nazarbayev University in Fall 2016 after completing a postdoctorate at the Chair for the Study of Religious Pluralism and the Center for International Studies at the Université de Montréal. Prior to my hiring at Nazarbayev University, I served as a lecturer at the Université de Montréal and the University of Ottawa. I also hold a graduate degree from the Université libre de Bruxelles (2008).

I specialize in ethnography, religion, secularism, and the Soviet legacy. My research interests focus on the study of religious identities, especially the growing importance of Islam within Central Asian societies since independence. My current projects also look at gender issues in Central Asia, more specifically, marriage and polygyny. An article on polygyny in Tajikistan has been published in Ethnic and Racial Studies and a research project on the topic of polygyny and tokals in Kazakhstan is currently under way.

Apart from research activities, I also took part in multiple election observation missions with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine and travelled extensively in the former USSR.

Courses taught at NU

PLS140 - Introduction to Comparative Politics

PLS332 - The Politics of Islam in Eurasia

PLS441/451 – Advanced Topics in Comparative Politics: Conflicts in Central Asia and the Caucasus


Thibault, Hélène. 2018. Transforming Tajikistan: State-Building and Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia. London: I.B. Tauris.

Thibault, Hélène and Edward Lemon. 2018. "Counter-extremism, power and authoritarian governance in Tajikistan", Central Asian Survey; 37:1, 137-159, DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2017.1336155

Thibault, Hélène. 2017. "Labour Migration, Sex, and Polygyny: Negotiating Patriarchy in Tajikistan", Ethnic and Racial Studies. Online: 24 November 2017,

Thibault, Hélène. 2016. “Female virtue and State ideology in Tajikistan”. CERIA Brief, n.10, January.

Thibault, Hélène. 2015. “The Soviet Secularization Project in Central Asia: Accommodation and Institutional Legacies”. Eurostudia 10(1); 11-31.

Thibault, Hélène. 2013. “The Secular and the Religious in Tajikistan: Contested Political Spaces”. Studies in Religion/Études religieuses 42(2); 173-189.

Thibault, Hélène, Jean-François Ratelle and Kristian Alexander. 2011. “Recruitement and Training of Terrorists” In James Ciment (ed). World Terrorism: An Encyclopedia of Political Violence from Ancient Times to the Post-9/11Second Edition. Armonk (NY): M.E. Sharpe.

Thibault, Hélène. 2009. “L’intégration d’un parti islamique comme facteur de renforcement du contrôle religieux et de la rhétorique anti-islamiste. Le cas du Tadjikistan”. Transitions 49(2); 151-171.

Media and opinion

Voices on Central Asia. "Transforming Post-Soviet Tajikistan", October 25, 2018.

Strategic Challenges and Geopolitics of Central Asia, Third Turkic Canadian Convention,

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Majlis Podcast: A New Era Of Cooperation?, March 19, 2018.

Hélène Thibault, 2017. "Asie centrale: la fin du pré carré russe?", Diplomatie n. 40; 67-71.

Le Devoir. Ouzbékistan : la dictature en héritage, September 7, 2016.

Central Asia Analytical Network (CAAN). Элен Тибо: О хиджабах и неудачах секуляризма в Центральной Азии, April 4, 2016.

Planète Terre. Nagorno-Karabagh : un conflit gelé? April 18, 2016.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “As Tajikistan Limits Islam, Does It Risk Destabilization?”,  December 1, 2015,

Al-Jazeera. “Trouble in Tajikistan”, November 5, 2015.

Registan. “The Islamic Renaissance Party’s downfall and its consequences for Tajikistan’s stability”, August 7, 2015.

Le Devoir. “Kazakhstan: La stabilité d’abord”, April 29, 2015.