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Seminar in Ukrainian Studies, HURI, Ukrainian Reserach Institute

Breaking the Tongue: Mapping Language in Wartime Ukraine


November 15, 2017
1:30pm - 4:00pm
Room S-050, CGIS South, Harvard University, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
November 15, 2017
1:30pm - 4:00pm
Room S-050, CGIS South, Harvard University, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

The language issue in Ukraine has long historical roots, and even after Ukraine’s independence it remained in the center of the nation- and state-building processes. Different political parties often used language tensions for political mobilization or to draw imagined regional divisions. It also served as an important marker in defining cultural and national identities or allegiances. However, after the Euromaidan it took on a new dimension. Fueled by the Revolution of Dignity, subsequent annexation of Crimea, and ensuing war, the changes in Ukraine’s sociolinguistic landscape were not so unidirectional. On the one hand, those events contributed to intensive reflections on and a (re)articulation of the role of Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the process of political nation-building, making them a part of a new national heroic narrative. On the other hand, Russia used the language question as a pretext for occupying or annexing Ukrainian territories, and actively exploited the issue in its propaganda war and disinformation campaign. These factors could have pushed many Ukrainian citizens to change their attitudes toward language practices and the coexistence of Ukrainian and Russian languages in the country. In some circumstances, Russian-speaking Ukrainians may have decided to adopt the Ukrainian language for daily communication in order to forestall Russian aggression or out of patriotic reasons. Through the MAPA “Language” module, we can explore and visualize changes in the sociolinguistic landscape of Ukrainian society between 2013 and 2017.

This event will be streamed on YouTube.

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