Document Actions


Kick-Off Workshop of the UNDIPUS Project (May 6-7, 2022, University of Greifswald)

The project "(Un)Disciplined: Pluralising Ukrainian Studies - Understanding the War in Ukraine" (UNDIPUS) is a collaborative project uniting six sub-projects, four disciplines and three locations, i.e. the universities of Greifswald, Regensburg, and Giessen. In terms of content, the UNDIPUS project strives for an institutional strengthening and methodological pluralization of Ukrainian Studies, which also requires comprehensive networking in Germany and on the global scale. To meet this requirement, a multifaceted perspective on current developments in Ukraine is of extraordinary importance. It is crucial to study the influence of the war not only on the processes of identity formation, but also on the instrumentalisation of Ukrainian studies within authoritarian and essentialist discourses. Methodologically, the joint project is oriented toward cultural studies and draws, i.a., on the fields of postcolonial research, trauma theory, and psychoanalysis while also addressing some important issues central to linguistics and literary studies. A constructive dialog on the attempts to "discipline" and mobilize our field of research should be facilitated by an interdisciplinary exchange that encompasses not only Slavic Studies, but also some other disciplines.

The first step in this direction was a workshop organized at the University of Greifswald in May 2022. It was also conceived as a kick-off event for the whole UNDIPUS project. The expertise of the international guests as well as joint project participants formed a good basis for an in-depth discussion. In what follows, I will briefly summarize the papers presented during this event.

The first thematic block focused on geopolitical, historical and linguistic aspects of Ukrainian Studies. First, Sergiy Kudelia (Baylor University, Waco/USA) tried to conceptualize the meaning of territory for Russia’s war against Ukraine. Hereafter, Roman Dubasevych (University of Greifswald) addressed the topic of Trauma, Heroism, and War - Never Ending . The transition to linguistic issues was marked by the paper of Alla Nedashkivska from the University of Alberta (Edmonton/Canada), who presented on The Main Players in the Landscape of Languages in Ukraine: Ukrainian and Russian in Practices, Beliefs, Challenges, and New Realities . In his contribution entitled Scaling the Linguistic Map of Bessarabia , Martin Henzelmann (University of Greifswald) examined the situation with minority languages in the Budzhžak region situated in the southern part of Ukraine and of the Republic of Moldova.

The second thematic block dealt with local and regional studies with a special focus on the relevance of certain historical areas, but also on their potential geopolitical brisance. Kai Struve from the Martin Luther University in Halle outlined the specificity of Upper Silesia between Germany and Poland: Politics, Society, and Competing Historical Narratives in 19th and 20th c . The subsequent presentation on Re-Awakened Separatist Sentiment in the Donbas: From Potential Threat to 'People's Republics' by Marta Studenna-Skrukwa (Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan) delved into some complex aspects of secessionist tendencies in the Donbas. The presentation entitled A Region in Literary Studies: Possible Perspectives on a Research Object by Oleksandr Zabirko and Alina Strzempa (both University of Regensburg) juxtaposed various views on region and regionalism in historical, cultural, and literary studies.

Tarik Cyril Amar (Koç University, Istanbul) delivered his keynote lecture online. In it, he tried to re-think the conflict between Russia and Ukraine from the perspective of a "proximity" and/or "distance" between the two countries and their cultures.

The third thematic block examined political, cultural and literary trends in or around Ukraine. First , Valeriya Korablyova from the Charles University Prague delivered her talk on Getting 'Away from Moscow': Ukraine's Performative Decolonization and its Phronetic Citizenry , in which she described the patterns of grassroots resistance to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Maria Sonevytsky (Bard College, New York) presented the third chapter of her monograph in progress devoted to Unlearning the 'Russkiy Mir': Punk Rock, Politics of Language, and Colonial Consciousness in Late Soviet Kyiv, focusing on the album "Tanci" ( Dances ) by well-known Ukrainian ethno-punk rock band "Vopli Vidoplyasova" (1989). Alexander Chertenko from the Justus Liebig University Giessen gave a paper on the complex relationship between the feminine and the military in the works of Ukrainian woman writers published after 2014 (" Oh God [...] tame the berserk in us": On Difficulties of Writing "Nationally Minded" Herstories of War ). Finally, Olga Plakhotnik from the University of Greifswald theorized on Sexual Citizenship in Ukraine: Borderland, Border-Thinking and War . Hereby, she addressed the multiple notions of belonging and identity contested and negotiated in LGBT+ communities in Kharkiv.

In summary, the workshop effectively shed light on the circumstances surrounding the current armed conflict on Ukrainian soil from very different perspectives and thus allowed to outline a common theoretical framework for the UNDIPUS joint project. In fact, the individual subprojects also perceive themselves as a platform for an exchange on these topics. Therefore, they would also like to contribute in the future to a critical monitoring of the events as well as to a self-reflective scientific reappraisal of the cultural, political, economic, historical, and linguistic processes behind them.

Martin Henzelmann

UNDIPUS Workshop “Decolonizing Ukrainian Studies” (December 8-9, 2022, ZOiS/ZfL, Berlin)

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-radicalize 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 its 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 toward 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?

Following these debates, the UNDIPUS workshop, organized by the UNDIPUS project together with the Center for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) and the Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur und the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL), related the contemporary discussion on the decolonization of Ukraine to the conceptual apparatus developed within transnational postcolonial and decolonial studies. In doing so, we tried to explore its analytic potential with respect to Ukraine and develop new ideas and theoretical models for understanding the current war. Considering the complexity and dynamic character of global colonial relations, the workshop’s aim was to facilitate scholarly dialogue about the prospects of Ukrainian Studies’ decolonization project while also keeping in mind the growing political instrumentalization of the decolonial terminology.

The workshop opened on December 8 with the panel discussion „Navigating Ukrainian Studies in Time of War” at ZOiS . On December 9, we continued with the academic part centered around three impulse lectures at ZfL .

Panel Discussion “Navigating Ukrainian Studies in Time of War”; December 8, 2022 (Thursday), 18:30-20:00, ZOiS, Mohrenstraße 60, 10117 Berlin



Matthias Schwartz (ZfL)

Workshop “Decolonizing Ukrainian Studies”; December 9, 2022 (Friday), 9:30-18:00, ZfL, Schützenstraße 18, 10117 Berlin

9:30-9:45 Opening

9:45-11:00 Session 1: Keynote Ina Kerner (University of Koblenz)

Problematizing Colonial Logics and Legacies: Post- and Decolonial Theories

11:00-11:30 Break

11:30-13:00 Session 2: Keynote Inna Melnykovska (CEU Budapest/Vienna)

Ukraine's Reconstruction through Economic Integration: Forward to What (Post-Colonial) Capitalism?

13:00-14:30 Lunch

14:30-16:00 Session 3: Keynote James Mark (University of Exeter)

Eastern Europe in the Global History of Decolonization

16:00-16:30 Break

16:30-18:00 Session 4: Arts and Literature. Moderated by Roman Dubasevych and Oleksandr Chertenko

18:00-18:30 Closing remarks

UNDIPUS Workshop "Pluralizing Ukrainian Studies in Times of Turmoil" (March 27-28, 2023, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland)

Organized by the UNDIPUS project in collaboration with the Center for Governance and Culture in Europe at the University St. Gallen, especially Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schmid , Dr. Oleksandra Tarkhanova and Alexander Meienberger , the workshop „Pluralizing Ukrainian Studies in Times of Turmoil“ was held to discuss the major methodological challenges and open questions in our research of contemporary Ukraine. To that end, the participants of the UNDIPUS project invited their colleagues from Switzerland to comment on their talks or to present in pairs to show the diversity of perspectives on the core subjects of the joint project, i.a., on trauma and heroism, language diversity, regionality, sexuality, and gender in Ukraine and in Eastern Europe on the whole.

The program can also be found here .

DAY 1. Monday, March 27, 2023

10:00 Workshop opening

10:15-11:30 Session 1

Roman Dubasevych (U Greifswald)

Trauma, Heroism, and War

Discussant: Ulrich Bröckling (U Freiburg i. Br.)

Moderator: Tatjana Hofmann (Collegium Helveticum, ETH Zurich)

11:30-11:45 Coffee break

11:45-13:00 Session 2

Martin Henzelmann (U Greifswald)

Tracing Language Contact in Southern Bessarabia

Elena Denisova-Schmidt (U St. Gallen)

Language of Corruption in Ukraine: Some Insights from Business, Higher Education, and Society

Moderator: Svitlana Ovcharenko (Genève Graduate Institute)

13:00-14:30 Lunch

14:30-15:45 Session 3

Oksana Myshlovska (U Bern)

The Government and Its Regionally-Based Challengers: Trajectories of Contention and Radicalization During Yushchenko Presidency

Oleksandr Zabirko , Alina Strzempa (U Regensburg)

After the Collapse of the Soviet Union: Intercultural Literary Negotiations about the Donbas and Upper Silesia in Comparative Perspective

Moderator: Olena Palko (U Basel)

16:00-18:00 Podium discussion “Future of Ukrainian Studies”

Since the full-scale Russian attack on Ukraine in February 2022, we have witnessed a significant growth of interest in Ukraine on scholarly and public levels. European societies' need for expertise in Ukraine coincides with the relocation/displacement of many Ukrainian scholars who fled the war and are hosted now by European universities. In these circumstances, collaboration and knowledge exchange between Slavists and Ukrainian scholars can be very promising, and Ukrainian Studies as an academic area can gain momentum for further intensive development. At the same time, there are questions regarding the (self-)positioning of "Ukrainian voices" in Western academia and public discourse. What kind of knowledge about Ukraine is most supported and welcomed? Which theoretical paradigms are privileged, which are not, and for what reasons? Another set of concerns focuses on the institutional aspects. What implications has the temporarily supported presence of Ukrainian scholars on the global academic market? What are structural changes needed to accommodate the new demands? And how do they relate to the much-discussed slogans of "decolonization" and "decentering" of Western academic institutions?

Today, a profound discussion about the future of Ukrainian Studies in both methodological and institutional terms is much needed. As numerous events on the topic have shown, the study of the ongoing war and its effects on Ukrainian as well as European society is often hindered by the politically motivated concerns of not being weaponized by Russian propaganda and not "playing into the hands of the aggressor." Given this complexity, we may ask: How to research Ukraine today? How could a re-orientation of East European and Slavic Studies toward Ukraine and other "minor" cultures be carried out on methodological, institutional, and structural levels? In what ways can the results of such re-orientation be transferred to the decision- and policymakers?

Panelists : Olena Palko (Basel), Ulrich Schmid (St. Gallen), Benjamin Schenk (Basel), Alexander Chertenko (Giessen)

Moderator : Maria Mayerchyk (Greifswald)

The flyer can be found here .

DAY 2. Tuesday, March 28, 2023

10:00-11:15 Session 4

Alexander Chertenko (U Giessen)

Nationalizing Women? L’écriture feminine and Ukrainian Identity Debates before and after February 2022

Marta Havryshko (U Basel)

Sexual Violence, War, and Militarism: Challenges in Ukrainian Studies

Moderator: Maria Mayerchyk (U Greifswald)

11:15-11:30 Coffee break

11:30-12:45 Session 5

Olga Plakhotnik (U Greifswald)

Contested Categories in Social Science: Gender, Sexuality, and Citizenship

Discussants: Oleksandra Tarkhanova (U St. Gallen) & Yuliia Soroka (U Fribourg/Freiburg)

12:45-14:30 Lunch

16:00-18:00 Movie screening and discussion “Мої думки тихі” (“My Thoughts Are Silent,” 2019)

Discussant: Nataliya Tchermalykh (U Genève)

Moderator: Roman Dubasevych (U Greifswald)

18:00-18:30 Concluding remarks

Upcoming events