Neither a “Victory” nor a “Betrayal”: Political Struggle and National Identity in Ukraine Since 2014

Tuesday, April 14, 2020
12:00pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building (420 W 118th St)

Please join the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute for a lecture by Mykola Riabchuk (Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; University of Warsaw; Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv).

Volodymyr Zelensky’s landslide victory in Ukraine’s 2019 presidential election evoked the most opposite kinds of comments, ranging from highly enthusiastic to thoroughly apocalyptic. One line of argumentation maintains that the victory manifests, among other good things, the advance of a new type of Ukrainian identity and a gradual overcoming of traditional regional cleavages. The opposite view tends to consider it as a total defeat of the state-nation building project that was ushered in by the Revolution of Dignity and the defense against Russian aggression over the past five years. However tempting and often suitable it might be to conceptualize the Ukrainian elections as a competition of two different projects of state-nation building and, ultimately, of two different types of Ukrainian identity, this presentation will argue that there are many more factors that determine the preferences of Ukrainian voters, and that some of them—like the need for a large-scale catching-up in the modernization of Ukrainian society—are playing an increasingly decisive role.

Mykola Riabchuk (1953) is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Political and Nationalities’ Studies, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and a lecturer at the University of Warsaw and Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Since 2014, he has been head of the Ukrainian PEN-center and the jury of the “Angelus” international literary award. Dr. Riabchuk has written several books and many articles on civil society, state/nation building, nationalism, national identity, and postcommunist transition in Eastern Europe, particularly in Ukraine. Five of his books were translated into Polish, and one into French (De la petit Russie a l’Ukraine, 2003), German (Die reale und die imaginierte Ukraine, 2005), and Hungarian (A ket Ukraina, 2015). His work was distinguished with a number of national and international awards and fellowships, including Fulbright (1994-96, 2016), Reagan-Fascell (2011), and EURIAS (2013-14).

 

 

 

 

Header photo credit: This file comes from the website of the President of Ukraine and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.