Amanuel Tesfaye Kebede joins HSSH as a Doctoral Researcher on a EU Horizon project

Kebede works with HSSH university researcher Matti Pohjonen on a EU Horizon project ARM: Research for Information Freedom.

ARM: Research for Information Freedom is a three-year EU Horizon funded research project coordinated by CMI in Bergen, Norway. The ARM project explores authoritarian strategies for information control beyond borders. While foreign disinformation receives ample scrutiny, other forms of foreign information manipulation and intervention (FIMI) remain overlooked.

Analysing Russia, China, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, ARM conceptualises and addresses different forms of FIMI. The project will explore the extent that major global players like China and Russia, alongside Ethiopia and Rwanda, engage in transnational information suppression, particularly targeting European diaspora communities. 

With a consortium of 11 partners across 8 countries, ARM will deliver a toolkit of practical countermeasures, empowering people to protect information freedom.

Matti Pohjonen, together with Amanuel Tesfaye Kebede, lead the research on the Ethiopian work package and provide expertise with the overall conceptualisation, data management and methodological questions related to the project. Amanuel will also work on his own PhD research related to the core themes of the project.  

"The project is a really urgent one given the breakneck speed through which the contemporary geopolitical situtation has changed, both in Finland and abroad.  It is also unique in the sense that it moves the focal point of research beyond a uniltateral focus on Finnish, Nordic and European experiences to also focus more comparatively at globally important countries such as Ethiopia," Matti says. 

"The project is also crucially important as we try to expand our focus beyond looking only at "disinformation" to also explore how the emerging digital ecosystem now potentially facilitate new forms of information suppression through tactics such as flooding the platforms with AI-generated noise to reduce the salience and visibility of relevant information. This is where the expertise and research developed at Helsinki can really come to use in a global and comparative context.” 

Amanuel has a BA in Political Science and an MA in International Relations from Addis Ababa University and an MSc in Development Studies with a focus on African Development from the London School of Economics. 

Before joining HSSH as a doctoral researcher under the Horizon funded Project he worked as a Program Development Officer for the Ethiopia Support Program, a USAID funded project working to improve social cohesion and support recovery, stabilization, and resilience activities in Ethiopia’s conflict-affected regions. He has also worked as a lecturer at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia’s leading academic institution, where he designed and taught courses for undergraduate students on various subjects including the Politics of Development, Political Philosophy, Ethiopian Foreign Policy, and Comparative Federalism.  

“My primary research interests revolve around the political economy of development in Africa, with a particular focus on industrial policy and development in Ethiopia. I also closely observe nationalist mobilization and social movements in Ethiopia, with a particular focus on the Amhara region. I am also interested in authoritarian resilience and regime strategies of survival, which will be instrumental in the current project we are working on,” Amanuel says.   

A multidisciplinary approach and cutting-edge methodological work were some of the reasons that attracted Amanuel to work at HSSH. 

“I have had the opportunity to attend a few seminars where I observed closely the rigour in terms of methodology as well the open and constructive culture of academic exchange. The staff of the institute have also been welcoming and encouraging,” he says. 

Amanuel’s PhD is closely related to the ARM project and will focus on information suppression amid conflict by taking two recent violent conflicts in Tigray and Amhara regions of Ethiopia as case studies. Despite being some of the bloodiest conflicts of the century, the war(s) in Ethiopia have not received commensurate media and scholarly attention. Amanuel believes HSSH is the right place to conduct a study of this magnitude for the  wealth of experience and expertise, especially in terms of methodology, to learn from and draw up on.  

“I’m excited to join and I’m looking forward to learn and collaborate,” he says. 

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