Cosmos > People > PhD Candidates

PhD Candidates

Year of Enrollement: 2008 \\ 2009 \\ 2010 \\ 2011 \\ 2012 \\ 2013




Helge Hiram Jensen 

As a PhD fellow, Helge prefers to be on fieldwork. He walks where the rivers run, to learn from local peasants about their political and cultural geographies. In 2002 he graduated as a cultural sociologist (Cand.Polit.) at the University of Oslo. In 2009 he was retrained as a political scientist (M.Res.) at the European University Institute. From 1999 until 2008 he worked as museum guide, exhibition curator, teacher, author, editor, barista, poet, actor, personal assistant for disabled persons, research assistant in sociology, and small business entrepreneur. Helge was born in 1976 as a Norwegian with Lebanese roots.

Research interests:  participatory democracy, state (trans)formation, postcolonial studies, Nordic region, Levantine region.

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Donagh Davis

My doctoral research involves a historical-sociological analysis of contentious politics in early twentieth-century Ireland. Theoretically, I am interested in long-running debates about the relationship between 'structure' and 'agency' in the causation of revolutions and other episodes of political contention. My dissertation asks how such dynamics played out in Ireland - an 'awkward' case lying between nationalist secession and revolution. While the study of social movements and revolutions has often seen splits between scholars more interested in 'structural' determinants of political contention, and those more interested in the 'agency' that activists and organisers bring to the table, I hope to contribute to the growing literature that seeks a more sophisticated understanding of how the two sets of forces relate to each other - giving the strategies of political opponents, and the sheer contingency of their interactions their dues alongside attention to the traditional concerns of more 'structuralist' scholars (economic, demographic etc.). Before coming to the EUI, I received a BA in History and English Literature from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and an MA in Sociology from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. From 2007 to 2009 I worked as a sociology tutor for Oscail, Dublin City University's distance learning centre, as well as teaching English, and working as a research assistant for the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, based at NUIM. I am involved with the e-journal Interface, and I spent the fall semester of 2011 as a visiting researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.

Research interests:   political sociology; historical sociology; contentious politics; revolutions; social movements; nationalism; Irish history.  

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Robert Hemker


Research project: 

"State Disintegration, Transnational Extra-Legal Activities and International Intervention: Towards a Political Analysis of Informality."


Jana Warkotsch


Research project:

"Mobilization under Authoritarian Rule."


Lorenzo Zamponi

Born in Castelfranco Veneto (Italy) in 1983, Lorenzo Zamponi is a Ph.D. candidate in Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute. He is currently working on a research project titled "Memory in Action: Mediatised Public Memory and the Symbolic Construction of Conflict in Student Movements", supervised by Donatella della Porta. Lorenzo studied Communication Sciences at the University of Padova, where he finished his first level degree in 2005, with the thesis "Comunicare l'identità di classe: la stampa sindacale a Treviso 1952-1960" (Communicating class identity: the trade union press in Treviso 1952-1960), and his master degree in 2008, with the thesis "I circuiti della memoria: giornali, tv e la narrazione delle foibe 1946-2007" (The circuits of memory: press, TV and the narrative of foibe 1946-2007). He specialised in social movements, public memory and media analysis.

Research interests  : contentious politics; student movements; collective memory; media discourse analysis; symbolic construction of conflict.

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Bogumila Hall


Bogumila Hall is a doctoral candidate in Sociology, at the European University Institute in Florence, working under the supervision of prof. Donatella della Porta and prof. Asef Bayat. Her thesis is an ethnographic study of subaltern politics and patterns of marginalization, and focuses on the Bedouins from the Naqab and the ‘al-Akhdam’ community in Yemen. She works within the framework of critical anthropology, contentious politics and subaltern studies.She holds a B.A. degree in Middle Eastern Studies and M.A. degree in Sociology from Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland. During her studies, she learnt Arabic and conducted field work in Syria and Yemen.

Research interests  : Middle East; subaltern politics; ubran/rural poor; political ethnography


Marion Lecoquierre


Research project:

"Le 'patto di mutuo soccorso': construire le conflit à partir du territoire."


Markos Vogiatzoglou

I am currently writing my PhD at the European University Institute (Florence, Italy). The title of the PhD is “Precarious Workers’ Unions in Greece and Italy: A comparative research on their organizational characteristics and movement repertoire”. Hopefully, it won’t be as boring as it sounds. I am trying to analyze and propose models of grassroots unionism for the precarity era. In the long term, I would like this project to prove more useful for the unions themselves, than for the academic community. In the past, I studied Sociology at Panteion University (Athens, Greece) and was awarded a Master’s in Sociology – with a specialization in Social Movements – from the University of Crete (Rethymnon, Greece). I have also worked as call-center operator, wanna-be manager in an advertising company (that was a total failure), junior accountant, video store clerk - and so on.

Research interests:  labor relations, precarious labor, trade unions, human-computer interaction, political violence, interactive media.

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Lorenzo Cini

I am a doctoral researcher in Sociology at the European University Institute(EUI) in Florence. My work is focused on university mobilizations emerged in France and Italy after the reforms on higher education of the so-called Bologna Process. I aim to investigate the impact university movements have had on the processes of reorganization of the academic curricula. More recently, I have also started to explore the role these movements have played in the mobilizations against the anti austerity measures following the financial crisis of 2008. In this respect, I am interested in exploring how these movements have opposed the enforcement of such measures in terms of both policy proposals and ways of conceiving democratic institutions. Over the past five years, I have also conducted research in the field of political philosophy by working on the concepts of democracy, justice and equality. On these topics, I have recently published the book titled Società Civile e Democrazia Radicale (Firenze University Press: 2012) and, in collaboration with Professor Brunella Casalini, the volume of political philosophy on Giustizia, Uguaglianza e Differenza. Una Guida alla Lettura della Filosofia Politica Contemporanea (Firenze University Press: 2012). My life is not only academia. In the moments wherein I do not study, I am politically involved in the Italian movements. I indeed took part in the Italian university mobilizations against the Gelmini laws in 2008 (the so-called “Movimento dell’Onda”) and in 2010. At moment I do politics in Collettivo Prezzemolo, a group of EUI researchers who organizes protest events, conferences, and various activities to contrast the cultural hegemony of neoliberal thought in the academia.

Research Interests  : university movements, higher education, economic crisis and anti austerity struggles, radical democracy and critical theory, history of contemporary political thought.


Joldon Kutmanaliev

Joldon Kutmanaliev is a PhD researcher at the Department of Social and Political Sciences, the European University Institute. His preliminary dissertation topic is “Ethnic violence and peace in southern Kyrgyzstan”. His current research seeks to explain spatial variations in violence during the ethnic conflict in 2010 in Kyrgyzstan. Joldon received his BA diploma in history from the Bishkek Humanities University in Kyrgyzstan, MA diploma in political science from the Central European University in Hungary. He was a visiting fellow at Government Department, Cornell University in spring semesters 2005-2007 (funded by Faculty Development Program, the Open Society Institute – New York) and at Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University in spring semester 2010 (funded by CARTI program, the Open Society Institute –Budapest). Before coming to the EUI, he was a lecturer at the Department of Oriental Studies and International Relations, the Bishkek Humanities University in Kyrgyzstan.

Research interests  : political violence, ethnic politics, Central Asian politics, Soviet nationality policy


Hugo Joel Leal


Research project:

"A Complexity Approach to the Emergence of Social Movements in the Middle East and North Africa Region: The Case of Egypt."


Leonidas Oikonomakis

Leonidas Oikonomakis is a writer, political activist, a late PhD Candidate & a member of the Greek hip hop formation "Social Waste". When he is not in Greece crafting socio-political rap songs with his group, and unless he has enough money to go on fieldwork, he transforms himself into a library rat spending his time in the EUI library, on the hills of San Domenico, Italy. From there, overlooking old-Florence resting on her past grandeur, he studies, writes, and makes plans concerning his PhD research (and other projects) that he is conducting under the supervision of Professor Donatella della Porta. His research focuses on the political strategies of two Latin American social movements: the Zapatistas of Mexico and the cocaleros of Bolivia. His other passions -that in academia are called "research interests"- include theories and practices of social change, social movements and their political strategies, international development and sustainability, as well as political ethnography. In terms of what we have been used to call "qualifications", Leonidas holds a B.A. in International and European Studies from the University of Piraeus (2005), and an M.A. in International Development: Poverty, Conflict, and Reconstruction from the University of Manchester (2006). He has also been a research associate of the University of Crete, as well as of the Center for European Studies of Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. Besides his native Greek and English, his articles have been translated into French, Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, Bahasa, Indonesia, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish

Research interests  : social movements, guerrilla warfare, political ethnography, international development, hip hop movement. 

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Didem Oral

Didem Oral

Research project:

"From Contentious Politics in to Social Movements: Conscientious Objection in Turkey and Israel."




Daniela Chironi

My main research interest concerns the relation between social movements and party change. Indeed, my thesis is about the role of social movements in setting off significant organizational changes within the more innovative left-wing parties in Western Europe. This current work is an extension at the European level of my graduation thesis. In fact, I graduated in Political Science at the Florence University, with a dissertation on “The radical left parties in bipolar Italy”. Since 2008, I’m also involved in a national research on the transformations of the Italian political parties, financed by the Ministry of University and Research and conducted by three universities. For this research, I work in particular on the Communist and post-Communist galaxy. Another research field in which I’m interested are the Media studies. I’m specialized in Political Consultancy and Communication and I earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Media Studies and Journalism. At that step, my thesis focused on the communication strategies of social movements during the season of Social Forums. In addition, I worked as radio and print media journalist. Finally, my interests outside the academy, again concern political and social life. In the past, I have been active in the alter-globalization movement and currently I’m taking part in the global commons movement. Moreover, I often organize cultural events, series of independent movie screenings, initiatives for the social use of public areas.

Research interests  : political parties and social movements relations; political communication.


Mihály Gyimesi (at SNS) 

Mihály Gyimesi

Mihály Gyimesi is a doctoral candidate at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, supervised by Donatella Della Porta. He holds an MA in Political Science from Central European University, Budapest, and is currently a visiting student at Scuola Normale Superiore and the Centre On Social Movement Studies at the European University Institute, Florence. He is working on his dissertation that seeks to explain the rise and fall of contention during the second Orbán government in Hungary (2010-2014).


Research interests  : social movements, political communication


Juan Masullo J.

Juan Masullo J. is a Colombian political scientist and sociologist from Javeriana University (Bogotá, University). He holds MAs in International Relations (International Peace and Security) from the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) and Political Science (Comparative Politics) from the Central European University (CEU). He is currently a Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute (EUI) and an associate researcher at the Conflict Analysis Resource Center (CERAC). His current research focuses on civilian collective behavior in civil war settings, with an especial emphasis on non-violent action at the local level. More broadly, he is interested in the study of political violence, civilian agency in war zones, and contentious politics. He has also done research on post-structural approaches to development studies and to international relations theory.

Research interests  : civil wars, civilian agency, nonviolent resistance, collective action, social movements.


Martín Portos García

Martin was born in A Coruña (Spain, 1989). He holds a degree in Political Science and Administration from the University of Santiago de Compostela: first in his cohort and best academic performance in all disciplines at the regional level in 2011 (9.94 out of 10.00 and 3.98 in the 0-4 Spanish scale). He was an exchange student during a full academic year at the University of Westminster (London, UK; 2009-2010) and, additionally, he was awarded an Excellence Scholarship by the Galician regional Ministry to collaborate as a researcher in the project ‘Among Monarchy and Nation’ at the USC. He has attended to diverse complementary courses organized by the University of Muenster (Germany), CEACS (Fundación Juan March, Madrid), UIMP, etc. In addition, he has been an intern with the advisers of the cabinet of the Galician regional Ministry of Presidency, Public Administration and Justice (10/2010-02/2011). He has also gained an MSc in Politics Research (Comparative Government) at the University of Oxford (UK), for which he was granted a full scholarship by Fundación Caja Madrid (10/2011-09/2012). Since October 2012, he is enrolled as a full-time PhD researcher in Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute at Florence (Italy), working under the supervision of Prof. Donatella della Porta. His main areas of interest are: comparative politics, European comparative politics and governments, social movements, collective action and contentious politics, democratic quality and democratization processes, politics and territorial organization, nationalism and federalism. His mother tongues are Galician and Spanish. Besides, his working languages are English, French and Portuguese; he also has a basic command of Italian and German. Finally, he has a good command of SPSS, STATA and Excel.

Research interests  : indignados, social movements, crisis of representation, trust and satisfaction in democracy.

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Anna Subirats Ribas

Anna Subirats Ribas holds a degree in Geography from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB, Barcelona) and a MSc in Urban Studies from University College London (UCL, London). Prior to becoming a Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Political and Social Science at the European University Institute (EUI, Florence), she worked for three years as a project developer for the metropolitan planning consulting firm Barcelona Regional. Her current research focuses on the themes of urban governance, politics of urban planning, contentious politics in processes of urban transformation and urban social movements.

Research interests  : urban studies, urban governance, politics of urban planning, urban transformations, urban social movements.


Parthena Xanthopolou-Dimitriadou


I received my bachelor in Sociology from the Aegean University, Greece, MSc in Social Policy and Social Interventions from Utrecht University, the Netherlands and MSc in Social Organization and Social Change from University of Crete, Greece. I have completed the Pedagogical Training Program for Secondary Education teachers of the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education in Greece. I have worked in the Department of Research and Documentation of the therapeutic community ITHAKI of the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals, in Greece, and in the NGO ARSIS, for the reception and service of benefiters, councelling, social history reporting, monitoring unaccompanied minor immigrant-asylum seeker on regular meetings, reporting questionnaire for ARSIS' research project on homelessness in Thessaloniki, and having the main responsibility for the organization and maintenance of the central archive of the organization. I have also worked as a freelance translator (English/Greek, Greek/English) and teacher for students of secondary education. My research in the EUI is taking place under the supervision of Donatella della Porta and is titled: "Populist Social Movements in Southern Europe: Limitations and Potentials. A comparative analysis of Portugal, Spain and Greece."

Research interests  : populism, identity formation, heterogeneity, horizontal organization, emotions and feelings of solidarity in social movements.


Oleg Zhuravlev

I was born in the Soviet Union, in Russia in 1987. I began doing research in sociology while I was a student at Moscow State University. During my time at Moscow State University, I took part in an informal scholarly seminar where we studied contemporary western sociology and began our own research projects. This interaction with ambitious students and colleagues outside my university, my attendance of scholarly conferences, and my own independent reading of the contemporary sociological literature enabled me to develop a critical viewpoint on higher education in Russia. In 2007, the students from the Moscow State University sociology department who took part in this informal seminar formed the core of a pressure group whose goal was to improve the quality of the education provided by our department. When I was forced to leave Moscow State University as a result of my involvement with this protest group, I realized that self-education would not enable me to become a qualified sociologist. Therefore I completed my bachelor’s degree at the Institute of Sociology (Russian Academy of Sciences) and then enrolled in the master’s program at the European University in Saint Petersburg. I began to research university conflicts in various countries while simultaneously continuing my practical involvement with student and university protest and reform movements by participating in seminars and conferences with Russian and foreign students and teachers interested in the reform and democratization of higher education, and by participating in grassroots self-education initiatives. At present, several of my colleagues and I have succeeded in organizing the research group, involving young scholars, focused on the subject of politicization and a role of transformations of social networks in this process. I hope to continue our collective research while doing Ph.D. in EUI by linking different research activities.

Research interests  : depoliticization, politicization, youth, political socialization, movement



Lars Erik Berntzen


Lars Erik Berntzen (1986) hails from the city of Bergen on the west coast of Norway. He holds a B.A (2009) and M.A (2011) in Sociology from the University of Bergen (UiB). Under the supervision of Professor Donatella della Porta he is conducting research on anti-Islamic rhetoric and mobilization in Western Europe. The project title is “Anti-Islamic opposition and rhetoric: A political phenomenon from the mainstream to the extreme”.

Between 2011 and 2013, he worked as a research assistant on three projects at the Department of Comparative Politics, UiB: 1) Political demonstrations directed towards the Norwegian state (1965-2012), 2) Political violence in Norway (1945-2012), and 3) Normative conflicts involving the radical right. All three projects entailed gathering data, coding and analysis of newspaper articles as the primary source material. He has also conducted and published research on organized opposition towards Islam, Muslim culture and immigration in Norway as well as the ‘manifesto’ and ideology of the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.

Research interests  : Anti-Islam, populism, diffusion, political violence, counter-jihad.


Jonas Bergan Draege


Jonas Bergan Draege is a PhD researcher in the Department of Social and Political Science at the European University Institute. His PhD project focuses on the relationship between pro-democracy movements and political parties in hybrid regimes. Bergan Draege earned his Mphil with distinction in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at St. Antony’s College, the University of Oxford, in 2013.

His MPhil research focused on the exiled Syrian political opposition. He was a visiting researcher at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul in 2012. He has also acted as an adviser for numerous NGOs focusing on Syria. His working languages are English, Norwegian, Arabic, Turkish, and Italian.

Research interests  : Hybrid regimes, Syrian opposition


Riccardo Emilio Chesta


I studied Sociology at the University of Trento (B.A. cum laude, 2009) and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris (M.A. Trés bien 2011). In 2011-12 I've spent a semester as visiting student at the Humboldt University, Berlin and then in 2012-13 I have been Teaching Assistant in Sociological Theory and Sociology of War at the University of Trento. In 2013 I worked as Research Assistant for a project on The Citizens Mobilizations against Chemical Risk in Porto Marghera (Italy) financed by the University of Toulouse 3 – Paul Sabatier. Particularly I'm interested to conduct and discuss topics in a transnational comparative analysis. My Phd dissertation would try to intersect Sociology of Knowledge with a Political Sociology approach focusing on the possibility of citizens participation about the politics of expertise in environmental issues.

Research interests  : sociological theory, historical sociology, sociology of ideas and knowledge, political sociology, cultural sociology.


Mariana Mendes


Mariana S. Mendes is a first year doctoral researcher at the Social and Political Science Department of the European University Institute, working under the supervision of Donatella della Porta. Previously, she completed two MAs, the first in International Affairs (International Security) at Sciences Po Paris and the second one in Nationalism Studies at Central European University. She was an intern at the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia (Belgrade) and at the Global Public Policy Institute (Berlin).

Research interests  : memory studies, transitional justice, social movements, political violence


Julia Rone


Julia Rone is currently a PhD researcher at the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the European University Institute. Her research focuses on the social mobilizations against copyright and in defence of data privacy. In 2013 she graduated from the Oxford Internet Institute with a thesis on Anonymous Bulgaria and the politics of hacking. She has coordinated the project ‘New Youth, New Cultures, New Causes: Interdisciplinary Approaches in Cultural Studies’ and has participated in the Bulgarian Media Monitoring Lab. Her publications include: ‘The Seducer's Net: Internet, Politics and Seduction’ in Digital Cultures and the Politics of Emotion (Athina Karatzogianni and Adi Kuntsman, eds), Palgrave Macmillan; and ‘Culture Wide Closed: Pirate Monopolies, Forum Dictatorship and Nationalism in the Practice of File Sharing’ in Cultures and Ethics of Sharing, (Wolfgang Sutzl, Felix Stalder, Ronald Mayer, Theo Hug, eds.), Innsbruck University Press.

Research interests  : copyright, data privacy, social movements, network organization, Internet politics


Manès Weisskircher


Manès Weisskircher is currently a PhD researcher at the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the European University Institute. His dissertation project focuses on the animal rights movement. Apart from that, he is also interested in other social movements and in political economy. Previously, he studied political science, international development and economic history in Vienna and London. In 2011, he published a study on the disciplinary actions of the University of Vienna against "undisciplined" students during National Socialism (together with A. Krysl) as part of the book "Universität und Disziplin" ("University and Discipline"; co-authored with A. Huber, K. Kniefacz, A. Krysl; LIT Verlag). His working experiences include research assistance on various party politics projects at the Department of Government at the University of Vienna.

Research interests  : social movements, animal rights movement, strategy and effects of social movement actions




Page last updated on 23 April 2015