Decolonization and its Discontents

While the Russian large-scale invasion of Ukraine is often and rightly linked to its long imperial tradition, Ukraine’s resistance against it has been recently increasingly associated with the idea of decolonization and anti-colonial resistance. Moreover, for many Ukrainians, this process is at least as much about military resilience as about the defense of their culture. Yet aside from deadly Russian bombs and missiles, they began to see the very existence of the Russian language and culture as an eminent threat to their identity and independent political future. Consequently, Ukrainian authorities, activists, and artistic elites have started to condemn and systematically remove the monuments or street names dedicated to Russian authors or composers like Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoi, or Pyotr Tchaikovsky and to boycott them abroad. The opening lecture addresses the dilemmas and discontents with this kind of Kulturkampf and explores to what extent the fight against Russian neo-imperial and superpower ambitions itself echoes the legacy of Western imperialism and Eurocentrism, which also deeply affected the dramatic Ukrainian past.

Roman Dubasevych studied German philology in Lviv (Ukraine), Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany) and Graz (Austria) as well as Literary and Political theory in Regensburg (Germany). His doctoral thesis was at the intersection of memory studies and Postcolonial theory focusing on the Habsburg nostalgia in post-Soviet Ukraine (Doktoratskolleg Galizien, Vienna). Since April 2018 he is Juniorprofessor of Ukrainian Cultural Studies in Greifswald (Germany) and academic chair of the international summer school “Greifswalder Ukrainicum”. His area of interest includes theories of cultural memory, transgenerational trauma, postmodernism, postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, pop- and rock-culture as well as representations of the war in Donbas. He works on a range of comparative topics from Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Jewish and Austrian literatures. He is Initiator and coordinator of the project „(Un)Disciplined: Pluralizing Ukrainian Studies — Understanding the War in Ukraine“.

Moderation: Dr. Oleksandr Chertenko

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