Postcolonial Perspectives on Ukraine


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


YouTube (public)


  • Austin Charron, Research Associate, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Terrell Jermaine Starr, Senior Reporter, The Root
  • Lena Surzhko-Harned, Assistant Teaching Professor of Political Science, Penn State University

Moderated by Emily Channell-Justice, Director, Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program, HURI

YouTube link:


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.


Austin Charron Austin Charron is a Research Associate in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research interests lie broadly in questions of social identities and their relationships with place, space, and territory, with a regional specialization in the post-Soviet space and primary focus on Ukraine and Crimea. Completed in 2018, Charron’s dissertation concerns identity and diaspora among Crimean IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples) in mainland Ukraine following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Terrell Jermaine Starr Terrell Jermaine Starr is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and the senior reporter at The Root, where he writes about US-Russia politics and race in America.
Lena Surzhko-Harned Lena Surzhko-Harned is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Political Science at Penn State University, Behrend College. She received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. Her primary research interests are in the field of comparative politics, political behavior, European politics, and politics of the post-Soviet space. Her work is features in such publications as International Research Quarterly, Journal of Common Market Studies, European Political Science Review, Nations and Nationalism. She is a member of a number professional organizations including American Political Science Association, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism. She also serves as a on an editorial board of the Studies of Ethnicity and Nationalism.

Watch on YouTube

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