Language in the Balance: The Politics of Non-Accommodation in Ukraine

Thursday, April 27, 2006
Room 1219, International Affairs Building, Columbia University, 420 W. 118th St.

The language question is a poignant issue in Ukraine, as the legal statuses and actual practices of Ukrainian and Russian continue to be contested. In many spheres of interaction, the tensions seem to fade as people speak their preferred language, without accommodating to the language of others. But does this practice of "non-reciprocal" or "non-accommodating" bilingualism ease the conflict over language choice and create equality, or does it continue to propagate tensions and inequalities? In this talk, Laada Bilaniuk explores this issue through analysis of bilingual Ukrainian-Russian television programs, internet forums, and everyday life interactions. She examines the politics of identity and correctness that are inherent in everyday uses of language.

Laada Bilaniuk, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington, is the author of Contested Tongues: Language Politics and Cultural Correction in Ukraine (Cornell University Press, 2005).