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Re-Thinking Post-Socialist War(s): Comparative Dimensions of the War in Ukraine (2014-2024)

An interdisciplinary conference

POSTPONED - Further updates will appear later.


Where: GCSC (International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture), Otto Behaghel Str. 12, 35394 Giessen
When: 8-10 March 2024
Organizers: Justus Liebig University Giessen / UNDIPUS joint project & Charles University in Prague / IMS Research Centre “Ukraine in a Changing Europe”

Dr. Alexander Chertenko (Justus Liebig University Giessen):
Dr. Valeria Korablyova (Charles University in Prague):

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research



The end of February 2024 marks ten years since the beginning of the war in Ukraine—heralded by an (almost) non-violent annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and culminating in an all-out war launched by Russia in February 2022. During this period, the war, which brought about massive destruction of human lives, ecosystems, and infrastructure, as well as large-scale displacement, became part and parcel not only of the global agenda in journalism, politics, culture, and academic research, but also a crucial factor in cultural production and identity formation.

Our interdisciplinary conference “Re-Thinking Post-Socialist War(s): Comparative Dimensions of the War in Ukraine (2014-2024)” aims at conceptualizing the repercussions of this highly traumatic event that changed the lives of millions of people in Ukraine and also became a game-changing factor on a global scale. It is a collaborative effort between the Justus Liebig University Giessen and the Charles University in Prague, which will be hosted at the University of Giessen on 8-10 March 2024 as part of the joint project “UNDIPUS—(Un)Disciplined: Pluralizing Ukrainian Studies—Understanding the War in Ukraine” (funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research; subproject “After Masculinity: Female Perspectives on the War in Eastern Ukraine”). As the title suggests, rather than focusing on the war’s idiosyncrasy, we will instead juxtapose it to other typologically comparable military conflicts in order to grasp their convergences and divergences. Premising on that, we are also going to discuss the possible peacebuilding strategies and compare them to the relevant experiences observed in other countries and cultures.

Our guiding questions are (i) what enabled armed conflicts (and the war in Ukraine in particular) as legitimate tools for achieving (geo)political goals; (ii) how warfare (co-)produced certain social and cultural practices that transformed implicated actors and polities or (iii) which social, cultural, and economic factors possibly prefigured the emergence and the perpetuation of warfare; (iv) finally, how the post-socialist and post-dependency wars were framed—in warring countries and in third states; by victims and by aggressors—and how those framings, in turn, reshaped identities of the involved sides?

The conference draws some 40 participants from political science, sociology, literary and cultural studies, international relations, linguistics, and history representing universities and research institutions in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the USA. It will begin on March 8 at 9 am and end on March 10 around 4 pm.

In addition to regular panels, the program of the conference also includes two keynotes—by Prof. ­Marc R. Beissinger (Princeton University, USA) on „Imperial Decline and Post-Socialist Wars: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine in Comparative Perspective“ (to be held on March 8 at 5.30 pm) and by Prof. Vitaly Chernetsky (University of Kansas, USA) on „Comparatist Approaches to Ukrainian War Trauma and Its Cultural Challenges“ (March 9, 4 pm).

Besides, on March 9 we invite all participants and guests to the screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary „20 Days in Mariupol“ (directed by Mstyslav Chernov, UA 2023). The screening will be followed by a discussion.


PROGRAM (is also available here


DAY 1 (8.3.2024)

8:30 – 9:00 – registration

9:00 – 9:30 – opening remarks



Part 1. Chair: Vitaly Chernetsky (U of Kansas)

Monika Wingender (Giessen): Language(s) and War in Ukraine: Problems, Challenges, and Perspectives in Dealing with the Soviet Legacy

Miranda Jakiša (Vienna): University at War: The Impact of Conflict on Disciplines


Part 2. Chair: Mark R. Beissinger (Princeton U)

Valeria Korablyova (Prague): From Hope to Fear and Back: The Geopolitics of Emotion after 1989

Alessandro Achilli (Cagliari): “We Respond to Our People”: Writers and the Nation in Ukraine since the Full-Scale Invasion and Beyond


12.30 – 14.00 Lunch at the Mensa (Otto Behaghel Str. 27, 35394 Giessen)


14.00 – 15.20 Panels 2A & 2B

2A. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON WAR(S). Chair: Thomas Bohn (Justus Liebig U Giessen)

Semion Goldin (Jerusalem): Russian Army and Jewish Population During WWI: Some Lessons for Ukraine

Aliaksei Bratachkin (Hagen): The War in Ukraine and the Discursive Legacy of WWII Memory in Belarus: Radicalization of Changes?


2B. WAR IN CULTURE & MEMORY, Part 1. Chair: Matthias Schwartz (ZfL Berlin)

Tania Arcimovich (Giessen): “War of Gardeners”, or, How Ukrainian Artists Discourse on Violence

Svitlana Pidoprygora (Basel): Violence of War via Comics: The Perspective of the Ukrainian Comic Magazine INKER



15.20 – 15.40 Coffee break


15.40 – 17.00 Panels 3A & 3B

3A. UNRAVELLING THE POST-COMMUNIST SPACE, Part 1. Chair: Monika Wingender (Justus Liebig U Giessen)

Ewa Wróblewska-Trochimiuk (Warsaw): What Happened to homo sovieticus? Reshaping Ukrainian Society in Social Media

Vincent Bohlinger (Providence, Rhode Island): A Critical Nostalgia for the Soviet Past in Post-Maidan Ukrainian Documentary


3B. WAR IN CULTURE & MEMORY, Part 2. Chair: Alessandro Achilli (U of Cagliari)

Valentyna Kharkhun (Nizhyn/Alexandria): Warring Memory: Representing Russo-Ukrainian War in Ukraine's Museums

Iryna Tarku (Giessen): Narrative Construction of Memory and Identity in Donbas War Prose


17.00 – 17.30 Coffee break


17.30 – 19.00 Keynote lecture

Marc R. Beissinger (Princeton): Imperial Decline and Post-Socialist Wars: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine in Comparative Perspective

Moderation: Valeria Korablyova


19.30 – 22:00 Dinner at “Die Kate” (Bismarckstr. 32, 35390 Giessen)



DAY 2 (9.3.2024)

9.00 – 12.00 Panels 4A & 4B

4A. UNRAVELLING THE POST-COMMUNIST SPACE, Part 2. Chair: Valeria Korablyova (Charles U, Prague)

Isaac McKean Scarborough (Leiden): The Ongoing (Violent) Collapse of the USSR

Aleksandar Životić (Belgrade): Geopolitical Consequences of the Collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia: Similarities and Differences of the Wars in Yugoslavia and Ukraine


Péter Hevő (Budapest): The End of the Visegrád Cooperation? The V4 and the War in Ukraine

Jochen Kleinschmidt (Dresden): From Realpolitik to Surrealpolitik? Russia’s War in Ukraine and the Discursive Antinomies of the Berlin Republic


4B. WAR AND GENDER. Chair: Olga Plakhotnik (U of Greifswald)

Tamara Martsenyuk (Kyiv/Lüneburg): Gender, Men, and Masculinities on Euromaidan Protests and War in Ukraine

Roman Dubasevych (Greifswald): From patsan to Veteran: Masculinity and War in Ukraine


Beata Waligórska-Olejniczak (Poznań): Turning Trauma into Art of Life: New Ukrainian Cinema in Time of War

Andreas Langenohl (Giessen): Queering Warfare: LGBTQI+ Presences On and Off Military Scenes



12.00 – 13.30 Lunch at the Mensa (Otto Behaghel Str. 27, 35394 Giessen)


13.30 – 15.30 Panels 5A & 5B

5A. DYNAMICS OF CONFLICT. Chair: Andreas Langenohl (Justus Liebig U Giessen)

Oksana Myshlovska (Bern): Contesting the Post-February 2014 “Legitimate Political Order”: The Evolution of Contention and Conflict Escalation in Ukraine (February-April 2014)

Andrei Vazyanau (Vilnius): Disintegration via Infrastructure: A Case of Public Transport Activists from Donetsk Region

Anna Ivanova (Giessen): Destruction and Production of (Urban) Space in Wartime Kharkiv: Discourses, Practices, Objects



Alina Strzempa (Regensburg): Unravelling War and Peace in Contested Regions: A Comparison of Upper Silesia and the Donbas from a Literary Perspective

Alexander Chertenko (Giessen): Voices from Periphery: Mapping Ukraine after 2014 in Polish Books of Interviews (Andrukhovych & Savchenko)

Matthias Schwartz (Berlin): Kresy as a War Zone: Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Russian Borderlands in Popular TV Series from Poland


15.30 – 16.00 Coffee break


16.00 – 17.30 Keynote lecture

Vitaly Chernetsky (Kansas City): Comparatist Approaches to Ukrainian War Trauma and Its Cultural Challenges

Moderation: Alexander Chertenko


17.30 – 18.45 Dinner buffet


18.45 – 20.45 Film screening and discussion:

20 Days in Mariupol (directed by Mstyslav Chernov, UA 2023)

Moderation: Alexander Chertenko & Valeria Korablyova


21.00 – 23.00 Twilight get-together at “Bolero” (Ostanlage 45, 35390 Giessen)


DAY 3 (10.3.2024)


9:00 – 10:20 Panels 6A & 6B

6A. NON-EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES ON THE WAR IN UKRAINE. Chair: Jochen Kleinschmidt (TU of Dresden)

Namita Kumari (Delhi): Narratives about the Ukraine War in India: A Study of National Newspapers

Alexei Surin (Tel Aviv): Narratives and Poetics of the War in Ukraine in Russian-Israeli Poetry


6B. WAR & TECHNOLOGY, WAR & MEDIA. Chair: Andrei Vazyanau (European Humanities University, Vilnius)

Roman Horbyk (Basel): From Participative Warfare to Participatory Attrition: Technology and the Russo-Ukrainian War

Oleksandr Zabirko (Regensburg): Microraion as Battleground: Post-Socialist Landscapes in Video Game Warfare


10.20 – 10.40 Coffee break


10.40 – 12.00 Panels 7A & 7B

7A. POST-WAR TEMPORALITIES, part 1. Chair: Tatjana Petzer (U of Graz)

Dagmar Gramshammer-Hohl (Graz): Imagining Generations in Times of War

Mariya Donska (Graz): Koly vse tse skinchyt’sia: Post-War Futures in Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry


7B. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND WAR, part 1. Chair: Dmitry Dubrovsky (Charles U, Prague)

Irina Rebrova (Berlin): The Future of the Holocaust Remembrance in Contemporary Russia

Alexander Cherkasov (Prague): The Chain of Wars, the Chain of Crimes, the Chain of Impunity: Russian Wars in Chechnya, Syria, and Ukraine


12.00 – 13.40 Lunch at „Rosmarin“ (Alter Steinbacher Weg 25, 35394 Giessen)


13.40 – 15.00. Panels 8A & 8B

8A. POST-WAR TEMPORALITIES, part 2. Chair: Dagmar Gramshammer-Hohl (U of Graz)

Iryna Orlova (Graz): Temporalities of Displacement

Tatjana Petzer (Graz): Transforming the Post-War(s) Environment


8B. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND WAR, part 2. Chair: Peter Haslinger (Herder Institute Marburg / Justus Liebig U Giessen)

Dmitry Dubrovsky (Prague): The Notion of the “Genocide of the Soviet People” in Putin’s Propaganda

Martin Laryš (Prague): Between Liberation and Genocide: Current Discourse on Ukrainians in Russia


15.00 – 15.15 Coffee break


15.15 – 16.15 Final discussion