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Matthew Cebul

Matthew Cebul is a WCED Postdoctoral Fellow for 2019-21. His research agenda lies at the intersection of international security and comparative politics, with a regional focus on the Middle East. Matthew’s dissertation and book project, “Repression and Rebellion in the Shadow of Foreign Intervention,” investigates two puzzling aspects of mass resistance to autocratic regimes: (1) why opposition mobilization sometimes persists despite extreme repression; and (2) why some resistance movements remain nonviolent, while others embrace armed rebellion. Whereas existing scholarship attributes this variation to a number of domestic factors, Matthew analyzes how the possibility of international support conditions the opposition’s response to regime violence. Drawing on original interview and survey data from the 2011 Syrian Revolution, the project reveals a troubling relationship: while the expectation of foreign support can encourage nonviolent mobilization, emboldened movements are also more likely to experience excessive exposure to repression, and are consequently at greater risk of violent radicalization.

As a postdoctoral fellow, Matthew will continue to develop his book manuscript, incorporating data from both contemporary and historical cases of resistance to autocracy. He will also advance a series of related projects, including research exploring how dissidents assess the likelihood of repression, the effects of sectarian geographies on the efficacy of repression, and U.S. support for democratization as a function of opposition structure.


  • Ph.D., Political Science, Yale University, 2019
  • M.A., Political Science, Yale University, 2015
  • B.A., Political Science, Haverford College, 2013

Awards and Honors

  • Smith Richardson Foundation, World Politics & Statecraft Fellowship (2018)
  • Global Religion Research Initiative, Project Launch Grant (2018)
  • Yale MacMillan Center, Dissertation Grant (2017)
  • Yale MacMillan Center Pre-Dissertation Grant (2016)
Following his WCED Fellowship, Dr. Cebul accepted a position as research officer with the U.S. Institute of Peace's Program on Nonviolent Action in Washington D.C.