Postcolonial Perspectives on Ukraine


Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 2:30pm to 4:00pm


YouTube (public)

•    Austin Charron, University of Wisconsin–Madison
•    Terrell Jermaine Starr, Atlantic Council
•    Lena Surzhko-Harned, Pennsylvania State University
Moderated by Emily Channell-Justice, Director, Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program, HURI

This panel will showcase cutting-edge research and reporting focused on the history, culture, and politics of Ukraine from a postcolonial theoretical perspective. Until recently, the post-Soviet space has generally been excluded from histories and geographies of global colonialism and decolonization, but the ongoing repercussions of the Soviet Union’s collapse and the resurgence of Russia as a neo-imperialist regional hegemon have helped bring postcolonialism to the fore as a powerful framework for theorizing post-Soviet societies.

Events surrounding and succeeding the 2013-2014 Euromaidan Revolution have helped expose and crystallize Ukraine’s postcolonial condition specifically, laying bare the ongoing struggles of a decolonized state to (re)assert agency and independence from a revanchist former metropole. Indeed, in Russian historian Ilya Gerasimov’s assessment, the Euromaidan represents the “first postcolonial revolution.” While postcolonial criticism has been a trend in Ukrainian literary studies for decades, postcolonial theory remains underutilized among social scientists and historians interested in Ukrainian politics, culture, economics, and identities.

Bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars and commentators both from Ukraine and abroad, this panel will explore innovative new approaches to the study of Ukrainian society that foreground the legacy of Russian/Soviet colonialism, and which situate Ukraine alongside other post-colonial societies in a global context.