Spotlight on...

"Spotlight on..." New Doctoral Researcher Olena Osypenkova

Olena Osypenkova officially joined the GIGA Doctoral Programme in October 2023. The working title of her dissertation is “The Role and Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation in the Middle East and North Africa (Focusing on Cases of Syria and Libya).” She holds a master’s in political science from the Institute of Political Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. She was as well a Protocol, Bilateral Affairs Officer at the UAE Embassy in Ukraine. Learn more about Olena in this interview.

  • What made you choose to do a PhD?

    My decision to enroll in the PhD programme stems from my profound interest in the processes occurring in the Middle East and my practical experience in this field. During the final year of my master’s programme, I developed a particular interest in the conflict dynamics in the MENA region, including the interventions of great powers. Furthermore, I have gained valuable practical experience while working in government and private sectors and residing in some Middle Eastern countries. However, motivated by a passion for research and a desire to better understand the region, I decided to change my path and make every effort to present outstanding research and apply my knowledge and expertise to make a significant academic contribution.

    What is your main motivation to address the topic of your PhD?

    It is widely accepted that a comprehensive understanding of human behavior requires not only knowledge of the language of communication but also familiarity with the cultural, customary, and cognitive aspects of human expression. In my research, I aim to demonstrate the historical dimension of contemporary political issues. Russian ideological views on the MENA region and its people are important factors that influence the debate on images of others and the orientalism debate, as well as the role of religion factor and threat perception in Russia's foreign policy.

    What are you looking most forward to during your PhD studies?

    For me, it is undoubtedly the field research. This method offers a unique and close-up perspective on everyday life that cannot be obtained through any other means. I am excited to visit the countries of the region, access archives, conduct interviews, and gain first-hand experience and knowledge about the people, events, and processes under study. I believe that personal observations can aid in making informed decisions during the research process and setting priorities.

    Qualitative or quantitative

    Qualitative, for sure. Qualitative analysis aims to gain insight into people's motivations, views, and attitudes by delving deeply into the topic at hand. The main objective for me is to answer the question 'Why?' in my research.

    Reading or writing

    From reading to writing, I would say. I enjoy reading extensively to broaden my perspective and gain insights that others may have missed, allowing me to produce unique and insightful work.

    GIGA Doctoral Programme

    The GIGA has a long tradition of integrating young researchers into its research structure. This tradition culminated in the establishment of the GIGA Doctoral Programme. This programme seeks to provide a platform for young, international, and German academics, from which they can pursue their research and professional development, particularly in the field of comparative area studies (CAS).

    Doctoral Programme


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