Emma Mateo completes DPhil exploring how social networks shape regional protests in Ukraine and Belarus

Congratulations to Dr Emma Mateo, who has been awarded her DPhil in Sociology.

Entitled “‘Together We Are Strong’: Exploring Regional Protest During Moments of Mass Mobilisation in Ukraine and Belarus”, Emma’s thesis examines the factors that shape regional variation in mobilisation during nationwide protests, focusing in particular on the role of different kinds of local social networks.

Emma’s work highlights the roles played by activists, workplace, political party, and pre-existing networks in regional protests. It also uncovers original knowledge about regional mobilisation in Ukraine and Belarus, vital to helping better understand local resistance to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Emma’s DPhil was jointly funded by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership and a Balliol College Devorguilla scholarship, and completed under the supervision of Stephen Fisher and Olga Onuch, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester.

Emma’s paper, “‘All of Belarus has come out onto the streets’: exploring nationwide protest and the role of pre-existing social networks”, was recently published in Post-Soviet Affairs, and she also co-authored an article with Olga Onuch and Julian Waller in Social Media + Society, examining how media consumption aligns with protest participation and belief in disinformation in Ukraine.

The completion of Emma’s DPhil coincides with a critical time for the region she studies. Emma will continue researching networks and mobilisation in Ukraine and Belarus, as well as developing her methodological interests in approaches to the use of social media data for researching protests. She will also begin investigating how grassroots community groups in Ukraine are mobilising resources in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Emma has recently started a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ukrainian Studies at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, where she will continue this research, and also teach classes on protest and activism in Ukraine.

Since the escalation of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Emma has been keenly involved in local efforts to raise awareness and collect donations, helping to organise protests, donation drives and fundraising events in Oxford with the Oxford University Ukrainian Society. To date the Society has raised over £40,000 for Ukrainian charities and community organisations, as well as helping to send two vehicles and over 400 boxes of donations to Ukraine.

You can find Dr Mateo on her website and Twitter.

Image of people gathering on the street holding Ukrainian flags

Photo by Markus Spiske

Black & white image of Emma Mateo

Dr Emma Mateo