Hugo Leal


Hugo is the Methods Fellow at Cambridge Digital Humanities and a former Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge. As a Postdoctoral Fellow, he was associated with the Internet branch of the project Conspiracy and Democracy.

Hugo combines research and teaching activities on misinformation, collective action and digital methods. His current research focuses on three topics: a cross-comparative analysis of conspiracy beliefs in Europe and the United States; the strategic use of misinformation by political actors; and nativist mobilisation driven by beliefs in the “Islamisation of Europe”. Also in the pipeline is the examination of “alternative knowledge” networks and their effects in the public perception of scientific and public health debates. His work cuts across disciplines, from sociology to political science, and combines qualitative and quantitative methods, with an emphasis on digital methods and social network analysis.

Before joining CRASSH, Hugo was at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, where he completed a Ph.D. with a thesis on “The Emergence of Collective Action Networks” in the Middle East and North Africa region. Using the Egyptian uprising as a case-study, the thesis is one of the first in-depth studies about the causes of the “Arab Spring”, fed by an original dataset of protest events and a longitudinal social network analysis of contentious actors in the country. Hugo also holds a Masters in International Relations from the University of Lisbon with a dissertation on complexity theory and new social movements.

Hugo is a member of the Centre of Social Movement Studies (COSMOS) and has been teaching seminars and running workshops on social movements, Middle East politics, research methods, social network analysis and content analysis.


Cambridge Digital Humanities, Methods Fellow; Conspiracy and Democracy, Researcher


January 2014 - November 2018


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