Emerging Researchers II: Academic Papers from IUfU Scholarship Program

In the Fall Semester of 2022, Invisible University for Ukraine launched a scholarship program aiming to support students from Ukrainian universities co-funded by the Open Society University Network and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). Since then, the program has helped 158 students. Receiving feedback from the IUfU team and peer-colleagues within small mentoring groups, the students improved their argumentative capacities and opened new questions and approaches for themselves and their research. Assistance offered by the mentors and English language tutors also helped them to express their thoughts more precisely, improving their Academic English. Some IUfU participants have already transformed the research papers they worked on during the past four semesters into articles that are published in leading Ukrainian journals. In this overview, we present the second selection of the articles that were developed in this program, continuing a series of texts dedicated to student research within the IUfU framework.

Abstract: The paper examines attempts to create new interpretations of the memory and history of Chernivtsi during the Soviet era through the prism of guidebooks and tries to deconstruct them. Guidebooks are considered primarily as textual representations of official policies on reconstructing Chernivtsi’s past and valuable narrative sources for understanding how the totalitarian state ideologically dominated this culturally diverse city. A linguistic approach based on the theoretical model of newspeak is applied to the study of publications in order to identify discourses and analyze them. Soviet newspeak in guidebooks functions as a means of constructing narratives and an instrument for their internalization in society. The author also examines the guidebooks in the context of official historical and national policies in the post-Stalin USSR, which, in the case of the annexed territories of the Ukrainian SSR in the aftermath of the Second World War, involved the assimilation of new regions by Ukrainians along with the cleansing and demonization of local “Others.” The ideological frame-work for these actions included discourses on “Old Russian ethnicity” (davnoruska narodnist) as “a cradle of three brotherly peoples,” “Russian-Ukrainian friendship,” “Great Patriotic War,” and others. The study also seeks to understand the motivations of the guidebooks’ authors, drawing on their biographies. It concludes that Soviet guidebooks to Chernivtsi, adhering to the official doctrine, create an exclusive and sanitized image of the city’s past, aimed at erasing the history and experiences of the local “Others,” represented primarily by Romanians, Jews, and Germans, who, before the Soviet annexation, were demographically dominant ethnic groups in the city. In specific contexts, markers of “Others” create the illusion of presence and agency; however, the guidebook’s texts mostly ignore the multicultural past of Chernivtsi. Simultaneously, when the “Others” are not excluded from the narrative, their very presence in Chernivtsi’s history was mainly interpreted as a hostile phenomenon, a historical mistake, and a consequence of colonial oppression in the city declared by the Soviet authorities to be primordially Ukrainian. As publications aimed at tourists and guests of the city, guidebooks appropriately represent Soviet memorials and objects of the symbolic space of Chernivtsi through carefully crafted textual interpretations. Tourist guides are regarded as significant sources for researching local memory and history policies.

About the Author: Orest Kostiv is a Bachelor student at Ukrainian Catholic University. He developed his project within the IUfU Fall Semester 2022 course Memory, War and the City. Shaping Collective Remembrance and Re-Articulation of Past in Ukraine in European Contexts (course director: Dr. Tetiana Vodotyka).

This article is based on the results of the interviews of the project “Crimean Tatars: When We Return,” which took place among Crimean Tatars displaced to the village of Nova Hreblya, Vinnytsia region. The object of the study is the socio-cultural integration of internally displaced persons as a result of the Russo-Ukrainian war in Vinnytsia. The relevance of the study is determined by the need to study the indigenous people of Crimea in the conditions of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. The Crimean Tatar community, which was interviewed, are active participants in the war and organizers and leaders of the volunteer battalion, ‘Crimea’, which has now become part of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. The community is also an active participant and organizer of the social and cultural life of Vinnytsia and the region. Using examples and quotes from internally displaced persons, the determinants of the construction and transformation of IDP identities of residents of the East and the South and their integration into a common socio-cultural discourse with the host communities are considered. The research methodology is based on the sociocultural approach, which makes it possible to study the processes of identification of IDPs in their close relationship with the specific historical conditions of the emergence of a social group, its formation, and transformations.

About the author: Mariia Kuriacha is a PhD student at the Ethnology Institute, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. She developed her project within the IUfU Fall Semester 2022 course Migration, Displacement and (Trans)National Solidarities in Ukraine in the Global Contexts (course director: Dr. Viktoriya Sereda).

Abstract: In 2018, Mariupol joined the program “Public Budget.” The article presents a comparative study of Mariupol inhabitants’ participation in the implementation of collaborative civic initiatives, focusing on the local issues that the projects aimed to solve. The author conducted interviews with the projects’ authors to define the potential directions of implementing future initiatives and analyzed the statistical data available on the competition’s web platform. She also made prognosis about the potential directions for the new projects. The article highlights the main challenges that may appear in the process of planning the reconstruction of Mariupol, mainly the trust of local authorities, the selection of the sites of heritage that should be renovated together with critical infrastructure; the lingering war, changes in Mariupol’s post-war structure of its population, and housing problems.

About the author: Valentyna Abalmasova is a PhD student at Mariupol State University. She developed his project within the IUfU Fall Semester 2022 course Ukraine in/and Europe: Frameworks of European Integration (course directors: Dr. Marta Mochulska and Dr. Maryna Rabinovych).

Abstract: A post-colonial approach to literary studies of modern literature, in particular Ukrainian, has gained considerable popularity over the last decade. Clearly, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent attainment of independence have laid the foundation for the development of post-colonial studies in our territory. Injuries inflicted during the long period of colonisation (although not all researchers agree to use this term, noting that the absence of a key characteristic of the colony — “a large body of water” is missing) have been understood and reflected both in literature and its researchers. However, currently we are at a stag when writers are moving beyond the reflection typical for post-colonial viewpoints, delving into the exploration of logical connections between events and their consequences, examining ways to process these traumas. Therefore, in modern research, the decolonial approach, which emerges as a branch of postcolonial thought, is more relevant. In particular, this is discussed by Agnieszka Matusiak and Tamara Hundorova. Tamara Hundorova identifies a unique form of decolonial aesthetics in Ukrainian literature — aesthesis. This is the manifestation of the unknown, even the opposite of the generally accepted modern concept of “aesthetics” — corporeality, sensuality, and mystical practices. Agnieszka Matusiak observes that modern Ukrainian science and culture have undergone a ‘decolonial turn’ (decolonial-detotalitarian, as she calls this phenomenon, a complete shift in emphasis in discussions about Donbas). Decolonization is intrinsically linked in Ukrainian realities with de-Sovietization. While at the governmental level, this occurs through changing street names and re-evaluating Soviet political figures, people raised under this system find it challenging to shed an identity formed under vastly different values and conditions. The article aims to showcase the depiction and transformation of the Soviet man in modern Ukrainian literature, illustrating changes that signify a shift towards a decolonial perspective. Also of interest are the aspects of traumatic memory and the identity crisis of characters, invariably linked with the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

About the Author: Diana Pidburtna is a PhD student at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. She developed his project within the IUfU Fall Semester 2022 course Memory, War and the City. Shaping Collective Remembrance and Re-Articulation of Past in Ukraine in European Contexts (course director: Dr. Tetiana Vodotyka).