CANCELLED: Neither a "Victory" nor a "Betrayal": Political Struggle and National Identity in Ukraine Since 2014

April 14, 2020, 12:10pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building, 420 W 118th St., New York, NY

Join Columbia's Harriman Institute for a lecture by Mykola Riabchuk (Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; University of Warsaw; Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv) on political struggle and national identity in Ukraine since 2014. 

Volodymyr Zelensky’s landslide victory in Ukraine’s 2019 presidential election induced a wide array of reactions, ranging from highly enthusiastic to thoroughly apocalyptic. One line of argumentation maintains that the victory manifests itself in, among other good things, the advancement 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 nation-state 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 nation-state 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, senior research fellow, Institute of Political and Nationalities Studies, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; lecturer, University of Warsaw; lecturer, Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv