Site icon Olga Onuch



I study the Comparative Democratization of Eastern Europe and Latin America. My scholarly work has examined the micro-foundations of citizen responses (vote, protest, and migration) to, and perceptions of, critical junctures in Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and Venezuela, and Argentina. My policy research has interrogated: EU cultural diplomacy, think-tanks as reform actors (SIDA/OSI), ‘new’ EU members’ role in eastward enlargement (NISS), good government indicators (OECD), democratic dialogue (UNDP), and governance (World Bank).

My work is comparative (across space and time) and is both intra-regional and inter-regional in nature. I employ mixed methods in my research. I have led several large survey projects and have conducted extensive field and language-based research (with over 500 interviews and over 40 focus groups conducted). I have conducted research in 5 local languages. Below you can read about the ongoing and past research projects that I lead/have led. 


In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the human right emergcy tharesults form it, I joined a team of of colleagues at the Kyiv School of Economics, Duke, UNC, and University of Maryland on the #DataForUkraine project providing data on: civilian resistance (CR), human rights abuses (HRA), internally displaced people (IDP) and humanitarian support/needs (HS) durring the ongoing Russian invasion of and war against Ukraine.


I am the UK PI and overall project lead of MOBILISE (2019 – 2022). Our project asks: When there is discontent, why do some people protest while others cross borders? Connecting theoretical expectations from the migration and protest literatures, we examine: a) whether similar factors drive the choice to migrate and/or protest at the individual level; b) how context affects this mobilization; c) whether these choices are independent of each other or mutually reinforcing/ undermining. MOBILISE employs a multi-method (nationally representative face-to-face panel surveys, online migrant surveys, protest participant surveys, focus groups, life-history interviews, social media analysis) and a multi-sited research design. It covers Ukraine, Poland, Morocco, Belarus, and Argentina, which have recently witnessed large-scale emigration and protests. It follows migrants from these countries to the EU. My Co-Investigator in the UK is David Doyle.


I am currently PI of the British Academy funded “Identity & Borders in Flux” (IBIF) project, which investigates ethnic, civic, and European identities in the context of war. My Co-Is include Henry Hale, Volodymyr Kulyk, and Gwendolyn Sasse.

Between May 2014 and January 2015, I was co-PI (with Prof. Henry Hale (George Washington), Prof. Timothy Colton (Harvard) and Dr Nadiya Kravets (Harvard)), of the National Science Foundation-funded ‘Ukraine Crisis Election Panel Survey‘ – a three-wave nationally representative panel survey of the Ukrainian population. Our study explored: the drivers of protest participation in polarized societies, the effects of conflict on voting behaviour, how to best measure and capturing ethnolinguistic identity in social surveys research, blame attribution in times of crises, and role of geographic region in driving public attitudes.


I have extensively researched contemporary activism and protest in Ukraine. Findings from my research on Ukrainian activism and protest have been published as a monograph, book chapters and several peer-reviewed journal articles. My research was the first to demonstrate the historical connectivity between waves of mass mobilization (since 1920, including The Revolution on The Granite and Ukraine without Kuchma). Tracing the historical role of ideas, actors, and institutions, my research identified continuity and connectivity between different protest waves over time and space in Ukraine.

Between 2011 – 2014, I was PI of the British Academy Funded Ukrainian Protest Project. As part of this research – I conducted the first on-site surveys, interviews, and focus groups of protest participants in Kyiv in 2013-2014. This research specifically examined the role of social media as motivating and social networks as mobilizing factors in the EuroMaidan mass protests. Based on this research I  developed a theory of the ‘protestorate’ in post-communist contexts. This research also contributed to understandings of cross-cleavage coalitions underpinning mass mobilization. I am currently working on a book monograph focusing on the EuroMaidan Mass-Mobilization.


I have led several policy projects focusing on the role of Central and East European ‘new’ EU member-state reform and NGOs actors in EU democracy promotion, the development of the ENP and Eastern Partnership. Specifically, my interest lies in the role of informal (extra-institutional actors) and related cultural/public diplomacy processes in the EU’s neighbourhood.


In Argentina, I am investigating how political parties motivate and mobilize citizens to vote? Data and findings stemming from this project have been published in book chapters and are forthcoming in peer-reviewed journal articles. This research builds on previous data collection projects focusing on the 2001 Mass Mobilization (Argentinazo), published as a book manuscript.

In Venezuela, I am exploring the role of socio-economic inequality and partisanship as drivers of mass protest and migration. I am specifically focusing on the 2014 and 2017 mass protests and mass out-migration that followed.

In Mexico, I have investigated the role of civic duty in post-election protest mobilization. This research was the basis for a formal model of the ‘civic duty to protest.’

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