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Seminar in Ukrainian Studies

Imagining Ukraine: From History and Myths to Maidan Protests

March 4, 2019
4:30pm - 6:15pm
Room S-050, CGIS South Building, Harvard University 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA
March 4, 2019
4:30pm - 6:15pm
Room S-050, CGIS South Building, Harvard University 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

In this talk, Olga Burlyuk will present the results of research she conducted with Vjosa Musliu on how the Maidan protests of 2013–2014 were a space for the collision of conflicting narratives on what Ukraine is and what it should be, and how past, present, and future were used to imagine contemporary Ukraine.

Making use of speech acts by local and international actors and politicians on the Ukraine crisis, historical narratives on Ukraine, Maidan protest slogans, and field work data gathered throughout 2013–2016 in Ukraine, Burlyuk identifies four meta-narratives that enable us to unravel such an imagining:
(1) Ukraine as a liminal category between East and West;
(2) Ukraine as Russia, Ukraine as non-Russia;
(3) Ukraine as Europe, Ukraine as non-Europe;
(4) Ukraine as Ukraine.

Positing all narratives in a discursive battleground and problematizing them as a struggle between stories, she demonstrates that the imagining of contemporary Ukraine is deeply conditioned by the conflict between all four narratives. Ukraine is simultaneously all and none of them.
The research presented in this seminar has been published in an article (Jan. 2019) by Olga Burlyuk (the speaker) and Vjosa Musliu.
Read it here:


Olga Burlyuk is a Visiting Scholar at HURI and an FWO Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University (Belgium). Her research interests are situated at the intersection of EU/European studies (with a focus on external policies of the European Union) and Ukrainian studies (with a focus on Ukraine’s socio-political transformation). She recently published an edited book on Civil Society in Post-Euromaidan Ukraine (2018, Ibidem-Press/CUP, with Natalia Shapovalova) and a special issue on Unintended Consequences of EU External Action (2019, The International Spectator, with Gergana Noutcheva). Her publications have appeared in, among others, the Journal of Common Market Studies, East European Politics and Societies, East European Politics, Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, Kyiv-Mohyla Law and Politics Journal and edited volumes published with Routledge, Palgrave and Ibidem-Press. Burlyuk holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Kent (UK), an MA in European Studies from Maastricht University (NL) and a Master in Law from the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (UA).