Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

Reporter in a square in Ukraine. Image links to event page.



Liberty after Liberalism: Emancipatory Struggles in Ukrainian Journalism, 2001-2021
Reserve Your Seat





Please join the Harriman Institute for a lecture by Taras Fedirko. Moderated by Valentina Izmirlieva.

In the aftermath of the Cold War, we saw global experiments to liberate the world through capitalist markets and liberal democracy. How have they shaped understandings of freedom in the former Soviet “empire of justice”? *Taras Fedirko* addresses this question through the lens of Ukrainian journalists’ struggles against the power of oligarchs and other media patrons between 1998 and 2021. Fedirko traces how Russian interference, patronal domination, and organisational imperatives of grants promoting freedom of speech, have transformed what had begun as a solidarity movement against media censorship, into a divisive, moralised struggle over who counts as realjournalist in Ukraine. He argues that we can best understand this transformation if we pay attention to the centrality of the idea of freedom as non-domination to Ukrainian journalistsstruggles. In tension with liberal understandings of free speech, this idea of freedom and the emancipatory project it informed reveals journalistic labour as the key site where relations of political domination and exclusion were forged and challenged in pre-invasion Ukraine.

Taras Fedirko is a political and economic anthropologist studying media, war, and oligarchy in Ukraine. His is Lecturer (assistant professor) in Organised Crime and Corruption at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna, and currently leads the Monitoring Actors and Networks in Ukraine project, a research collaboration exploring the informal economy of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Image: Alexander Parkyn-Smith