Language Politics and International Relations: A Controversy Over the New Ukrainian Education Law

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building, 420 W 118th St)

Please join the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University for a presentation by Volodymyr KulykHead Research Fellow at the Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

When the Ukrainian parliament adopted a new law on education in September 2017, this development was welcomed by civil society and Ukraine’s Western partners as an important part of the post-Euromaidan reform agenda. However, the new law provoked an outcry from neighboring states, particularly Hungary, as it drastically reduced the use of minority languages in the education process. Notwithstanding their warning that its implementation would jeopardize not only their country’s bilateral relations with Ukraine but also Ukraine’s European integration, President Poroshenko enacted the law, thus exacerbating the controversy. To understand why Kyiv supported a minority-insensitive law despite its predictable foreign policy repercussions, one should look at the domestic political context. Similarly, it is the domestic contexts of the respective kin-states that can shed light on their harsh response to Ukraine’s assertive move.

Volodymyr Kulyk is a Head Research Fellow at the Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. He has also taught at Columbia, Stanford and Yale Universities, Kyiv Mohyla Academy and Ukrainian Catholic University as well as having research fellowships at Harvard, Stanford, Woodrow Wilson Center, University College London, University of Alberta and other Western scholarly institutions. His research fields include the politics of language, memory and identity in contemporary Ukraine, language ideologies and media discourse, on which he has widely published in Ukrainian and Western journals and collected volumes. Dr. Kulyk is the author of three books, the latest being Dyskurs ukraїnskykh medii: identychnosti, ideolohiї, vladni stosunky (The Ukrainian Media Discourse: Identities, Ideologies, Power Relations; Kyiv: Krytyka, 2010).