Read more about the members of the Disinformation Research Cluster.

Irini Katisrea, Ilya Yablokov and Dani Madrid-Morales
Dani Madrid-Morales (research cluster co-lead)

Dani studies global political communication, with a focus on the impact of new digital technologies in the production of State-sponsored news, global public opinion, and misinformation in the Global South. He has published extensively on Africa-China relations through the mass media, particularly on the reception of Chinese media content in Kenya and South Africa. His latest book is Disinformation in the Global South (Wiley), co-edited with Herman Wasserman. Dani works as a Lecturer at the Department of Journalism Studies, The University of Sheffield. Prior to this, he was an Assistant Professor at the Valenti School of Communication, University of Houston, and a Hong Kong PhD Fellow, at City University of Hong Kong.

Relevant publications: 

  • Wasserman, H., & Madrid-Morales, D. (Eds.). (2022). Disinformation in the Global South. Wiley.
  • Madrid-Morales, D., & Wasserman, H. (2022). Research Methods in Comparative Disinformation Studies. In H. Wasserman & D. Madrid-Morales (Eds.), Disinformation in the Global South. Wiley.
  • Ahmed, S., Madrid-Morales, D., & Tully, M. (2022). Online Political Engagement, Cognitive Skills, and Engagement with Misinformation: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. Online Information Review.
  • Ahmed, S., Madrid-Morales, D., & Tully, M. (2022). Social media, misinformation, and age inequality in online political engagement. Journal of Information Technology & Politics.
  • Madrid-Morales, D., & Wasserman, H. (2022). An Assessment of Media Literacy and Fact-Checking Training Needs in South African Schools and Universities. Africa Check.
  • Madrid-Morales, D., Wasserman, H., Gondwe, G., Ndlovu, K., Sikanku, E., Tully, M., Umejei, E., & Uzuegbunam, C. E. (2021). Motivations for Sharing Misinformation: A Comparative Study in Six Sub-Saharan African Countries. International Journal of Communication, 15, 1200–1219.
  • Tully, M., Madrid-Morales, D., Wasserman, H., Gondwe, G., & Ireri, K. (2021). Who is Responsible for Stopping the Spread of Misinformation? Examining Audience Perceptions of Responsibilities and Responses in Six Sub-Saharan African Countries. Digital Journalism, 10(5).
  • Wasserman, H., & Madrid-Morales, D. (2019). An Exploratory Study of “Fake News” and Media Trust in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. African Journalism Studies, 40(1), 107–123.
Ilya Yablokov (research cluster co-lead)

Ilya’s prime topic of study is Russian state-sponsored disinformation and, in particular, conspiracy theories. He published extensively on the history of Russian anti-Western propaganda and ideology and, more recently, focused on the production part of Russia’s state disinformation. Previously, Ilya looked at the state-run news agency Russia Today and the roles that public intellectuals loyal to the Kremlin played in shaping ideological and media landscapes. Ilya is now working on several projects, including the study of how grassroots anti-vaxx communities used conspiracy theories to resist the Kremlin’s vaccination policies in 2021-2022 and the monograph on the history of Russian media and the role that some media professionals played in reinforcing Vladimir Putin’s authoritarianism. I am interested in how disinformation is used by authoritarian regimes as well as in the ways how media professionals develop and distribute disinformation via traditional and digital media.    

Relevant publications: 

  • ​​Yablokov I, Solovyeva O (2022) ICT in Putin’s Russia. In Gill G (ed) Routledge Handbook of Russian Politics and Society. London: Routledge, pp. 364-376
  • Yablokov I and Chatterjee-Doody P (2021). Russia Today and Conspiracy Theories: People, Power, Politics on RT. London: Routledge.
  • Yablokov I, Avramov K and Gatov V (2020) Fake News and Conspiracy Theories. In Knight P and Butter M (eds) Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories. London: Routledge, pp. 581-595.
  • Yablokov I (2020). How Russia entered the ‘New World Order’: Exploring the Post-Soviet Context of the Concept. In: Knight P and Butter M (eds) Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories. London: Routledge, pp. 511-524.
  • Yablokov I (2019). Anti-Jewish Conspiracy Theories in Putin’s Russia. Antisemitism Studies, 3 (2), pp. 291-316. Yablokov I (2018) Conspiracy Theories in post-Soviet Russia. In: Uscinski J (ed) Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them. New York-London: Oxford University Press, pp. 360-371.
  • Yablokov I (2018). Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World. Cambridge: Polity. Etkind A and Yablokov I (2018). Global crises as Western conspiracies: Russian theories of oil prices and the ruble exchange rate. Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society 3 (2), pp. 47-85.
  • Yablokov I (2017). Social networks of death: conspiracy panics and professional journalistic ethics in the post-Soviet Russia. Quaderni 94, pp. 53-62.
  • Yablokov I (2015). Conspiracy theories as Russia’s public diplomacy tool: The case of ‘Russia Today (RT). Politics 35 (3-4), pp. 301-315. Yablokov I (2014). Pussy Riot as agent provocateur: conspiracy theories and the media construction of nation in Putin’s Russia. Nationalities Papers 42 (4), pp. 622-636.
Irini Katsirea

Irini Katsirea studied at the Free University of Berlin, at the University of Leicester (LLM) and at Magdalene College, Cambridge (PhD). She is Reader in International Media Law at the University of Sheffield (UoS). Her research interests are in the areas of International and Comparative Media Law and Policy. She is an Expert Fellow of the EPSRC Sprite + network. She is the author of Press Freedom and Regulation in a Digital Era (OUP, forthcoming), Public Broadcasting and European Law. A Comparative Examination of Public Service Obligations in Six Member States (Boston, Kluwer, 2008) and of Cultural Diversity and European Integration in Conflict and in Harmony (Athens, Ant. N. Sakkoulas, 2001). She is interested in the extent to which the regulation of mis-/disinformation is compatible with guarantees of freedom of expression. She is the author of ‘“Fake news”: reconsidering the value of untruthful expression in the face of regulatory uncertainty’ (2019) 11 (1) Journal of Media Law 159-188 and has co-authored a report on ‘The fight against disinformation and the right to free speech’ (European Parliament, LIBE Committee, July 2021) (together with O. Batura, J. Bayer, B. Holznagel, K. Lubianiec and S. C.Hartmann).

Relevant publications: 

Jared Ahmad

Jared’s research focuses on the construction and representation of terror threats. His most recent book is The BBC, the War on Terror and the Discursive Construction of Terrorism: Representing ‘Al-Qaeda’ (2018), and he has also published in international journals such as Critical Studies on Terrorism, Media, War and Conflict and International Journal of Communication. Jared’s current work focuses on the communicative interactions that take place between different actors involved in terrorism-related disinformation cycles: From terrorists’ attempts to use propaganda to amplify fear and insecurity in the aftermath of an attack to the way politicians and far-right organisations use those very same (self)representations to legitimise their own responses to such threats. 

Relevant publications: 

  • “'Islam is the Religion of the Sword not Pacifism Strategic': Self-Othering and Strategic Nostalgia in Islamic State Propaganda”, in Holly Furneaux & Matilda Grieg (eds.), Enemy Encounters in Modern Warfare. Palgrave-Macmillan (2023).
  • “Picturing the ‘Hordes of Hated Barbarians’: Islamic State Propaganda, (Self)Orientalism and Strategic Self-Othering”, International Journal of Communication, Vol 16 (2022), pp. 2935-2957.
  • “Constructing the Islamic State: Analysing the Interplay between Media and Policy Framing of the Islamic State in the Aftermath of the November 13th 2015 Paris Attacks”, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Vol. 13, No. 4 (2020), pp. 568-590.  
  • “Serving the Same Interests: The Wood Green Ricin Plot, Media-State-Terror Relations and the Contemporary ‘Terrorism’ Dispositif”, Media, War and Conflict, Vol. 12, No. 9 (2019), pp. 411-434. 
Pawel Surowiec-Capell

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Paweł Surowiec-Capell, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Communication at the University of Sheffield. He previously worked at Bournemouth University and, as post-doctoral Research Fellow, at Charles University in Prague. His research focuses on questions relating to the reinvention of classical models of propaganda, political campaigning, public diplomacy, as well as changes in European politics. He is the author of ‘Nation Branding, Public Relations and Soft Power: Corporatising Poland’ (Routledge, 2016) and co-editor of the volumes entitled ‘Social Media and Politics in Central and Eastern Europe’ (Routledge, 2017) and ‘Public Diplomacy and the Politics of Uncertainty’ (Palgrave, 2021). His work has been published by European Journal of Communication, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Diplomacy & Statecraft, East European Politics Societies & Culture, Public Relations Inquiry, European Review of International Studies, Communication, Culture & Critique, Journal of Information Technology and Politics, and East European Politics. Between 2016 and 2021 he served as Treasurer and board member of the ECREA. He tweets at @PawelSurowiec.

Relevant publications

  • Surowiec, P. and Manor, I. (2021) Public diplomacy and the politics of uncertainty. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Surowiec, P. (2018) Re-visiting Solidarność: propaganda of protest and campaigning of the social movement. Communication, culture & critique, 11 (4), 622-641.
  • Surowiec, P. 2017. Post-truth soft power: changing facets of propaganda, kompromat and liberal democracy. Georgetown journal of international affairs, 18 (3), 21-27.
  • Surowiec, P. (2023, forthcoming) Digital propaganda and diplomacy. In: Bjola, C. and Manor, I., eds. Oxford handbook of digital diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Surowiec, P. (2022) Media, public diplomacy and illiberalism. In: Laruelle, M., ed. Conversations on illiberalism. Washington D.C.: George Washington University, 84-88.  
  • Surowiec, P. (2021) Strategic communications and public diplomacy. In: Spry, D., ed. ASEF public diplomacy handbook. Singapore: Asia-Europe Foundation, 23-34.
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