Civiliian resistance

Civilian resistance: everyday digital technologies in the Russian-Ukrainian war

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The European Journal of International Security and the Centre for Global Security Challenges present their second annual lecture, given by Dr Olga Boichak (University of Sydney). The lecture took place on 17 November 2022.

Ukraine’s defiance in the face of a full-scale invasion by Russia has been a source of inspiration and surprise. Russia’s offensive that involved sophisticated military deployments with the intention of taking over the country’s capital was met with unprecedented grassroots mobilisation among the country’s population. From the objects of military violence, targets of Russia’s attacks have emerged as sites of productive resistance, using affordances of their physical and digital environment to forestall the impending occupation. This annual lecture presents an investigation into the role everyday digital technologies play in facilitating civilian resistance in the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Olga Boichak is a lecturer in Digital Cultures at the University of Sydney. She is a media sociologist whose interests span networks, narratives, and cultures of activism in the digital age. Boichak is an editor of the Digital War journal and the author of a series of commentaries and publications on contemporary Ukraine. Her scholarship adds a participatory dimension to wars with a focus on information operations, volunteering, military crowdfunding, and diasporic humanitarianism. Prior to relocating to Australia, she co-led a project that explored the influence of social bots in political conversations online (Syracuse University, USA), and currently leads the Computational Social Science Lab at the University of Sydney. Her work has appeared, among others, in Big Data & SocietyInternational Journal of CommunicationMedia, War & ConflictIntelligence and National Security, and the Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Digital Media. She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including the Young Generation Will Change Ukraine, Fulbright, and the SOAR Prize.

Further Reading

  • Horbyk, R. (2022). “The war phone”: mobile communication on the frontline in Eastern Ukraine. Digital War. doi: 10.1057/s42984-022-00049-2
  • Nikolayenko, O. (2020). Invisible Revolutionaries: Women’s Participation in the Revolution of Dignity. Comparative Politics.
  • Lokot, T. (2017). Public Networked Discourses in the Ukraine-Russia Conflict: ‘Patriotic Hackers’ and Digital Populism: Irish Studies in International Affairs 28 (2017): 99-116. 
  • Chaban, N. & Chaban, A. (2018). Communicating Europe Beyond Its Borders: Imagining the EU in Ukraine post-Maidan. European Foreign Affairs Review. 23: 119-138.
  • Sperling, J., & Webber, M. (2017). NATO and the Ukraine crisis: Collective securitisation. European Journal of International Security, 2(1), 19-46. doi:10.1017/eis.2016.17 
  • Marten, K. (2018). Reconsidering NATO expansion: A counterfactual analysis of Russia and the West in the 1990s. European Journal of International Security, 3(2), 135-161. doi:10.1017/eis.2017.16 
  • Mutallimzada, K., & Steiner, K. (2022). Fighters’ motivations for joining extremist groups: Investigating the attractiveness of the Right Sector's Volunteer Ukrainian Corps. European Journal of International Security, 1-23. doi:10.1017/eis.2022.11 
  • Mumford, A., & Carlucci, P. (2022). Hybrid warfare: The continuation of ambiguity by other means. European Journal of International Security, 1-15. doi:10.1017/eis.2022.19 
  • Wilhelmsen, J. (2022). Identification and physical disconnect in Russian foreign policy: Georgia as a Western proxy once again? European Journal of International Security, 1-20. doi:10.1017/eis.2022.18
  • Boichak, O. (2022) Camouflage aesthetics: militarisation, craftivism, and the in/visibility of resistance at scale. Contemporary Voices: St Andrews Journal of International Relations, 3(1), p. 1-13.
  • Boichak, O. (2021) Digital War: Mediatized Conflicts in Sociological Perspective. In D. Rohlinger & S. Sobieraj (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Digital Media Sociology. Oxford University Press, 511-527.
  • Boichak, O. & Hoskins, A. (2022). My War: Introduction to Special Issue on Participatory Warfare. Digital War.
  • Boichak, O. & McKernan, B. (2022). Narratives of volunteering and social change in wartime Ukraine. Cultural Sociology.