Navigating Ukrainian Studies in Time of War
Ever since Russia launched its full-scale war against Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Ukraine has been the focus of attention not only in German public and scientific discourse, but also on a global scale. What many events on the topic have shown, however, is that the study of the ongoing war and its effects on Ukrainian society and culture, as well as the study of Ukraine in general, are often characterised by an ethically underpinned strategic narrowing of methodological approaches and analytical tools. The conscious inclusion of Ukrainian voices did not bring a significant change here. All the more so, since many Ukrainian speakers demanded an outright “cancelling” of Russian culture as the imperial culture and the culture of the aggressor. Attempts to de-radicalise the discourse were, in turn, often dismissed as ‘westsplaining,’ thus ruling out an assessment of intercultural influences and entanglements.
In what way should (and can) Ukraine—and the war in Ukraine—be researched and discussed in all their complexity? How can historical, political, economic and social as well as cultural entanglements be adequately addressed? Which issues or methodological approaches are especially contentious due to ethical considerations or because they presumably ‘play into the hands of the aggressor’? How could a re-orientation of East European and Slavic Studies towards Ukraine and other ‘minor’ cultures be carried out on a methodological, institutional, and structural level? In what ways can the results of such a re-orientation be transferred to decision- and policymakers?
- Prof. Dr. Gwendolyn Sasse is the Director of the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) and Einstein Professor for the Comparative Study of Democracy and Authoritarianism at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her research interests include post-communist transitions, comparative democratization, ethnic conflict, and migration.
- Prof. Dr. Roman Dubasevych studied German philology in L’viv, Freiburg and Graz, as well as literary and political theory in Regensburg. His doctoral thesis dealt with Habsburg nostalgia in post-Soviet Ukraine. He has been a Junior Professor of Ukrainian Cultural Studies in Greifswald and the academic chair of the international summer school “Greifswalder Ukrainicum” since April 2018. His areas of interest include theories of cultural memory, transgenerational trauma, postmodernism, postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, pop and rock culture, as well as representations of the war in Donbas. Dr. Dubasevych is an initiator and coordinator of the UNDIPUS project.
- Dr. Maria Mayerchyk has a double affiliation with the University of Greifswald (Philipp Schwartz Fellow) and the Ethnology Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Senior Research Fellow). In the past, she was affiliated with Harvard University (USA), Lund University (Sweden), and the University of Alberta (Canada). Dr. Mayerchyk holds a Candidate of Sciences degree in History specializing in Ethnology. She teaches courses on queer theory, gender, feminism, diaspora, and Slavic folklore in Germany, Canada, and Ukraine. Dr. Mayerchyk has authored and edited seven books and edited volumes in English and Ukrainian. Her latest monograph, Genealogy of Erotic Folklore: Overcoming Modern Design of Sexuality, is currently being translated into English. She is also a co-founder and joint editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed open-access journal Feminist Critique: East European Journal of Feminist and Queer Studies. Her research interests include the decolonial option, queer and feminist epistemologies, East European studies, diaspora studies, and critical folklore studies.
- Chair: Dr. Matthias Schwartz is deputy director of the ZfL, where he heads the program area World Literature and the project World Fiction Post/Socialist. Eastern European Literatures and Cultures.
The panel discussion is part of the workshop Decolonizing Ukrainian Studies organized by the project (Un)Disciplined: Pluralizing Ukrainian Studies – Understanding Ukrainian War (UNDIPUS) funded by the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) in collaboration with Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) and the ZfL. In view of the growing political instrumentalisation of decolonial terminology, it aims to facilitate scholarly dialogue about the prospects of a project to decolonise Ukrainian Studies.