Guests: Yevgeniya Belorusets and Stefan Troebst (Professor of Cultural History for Eastern Europe at University of Leipzig)
On 24 February 2022 Russia turned its military actions against Ukraine which were going on in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine since 2014 into a full-blown, total war. The language of the international media to describe the conflict is unstable: first, a Russian invasion; then, “Russian-Ukrainian war”, then “Russia’s war in Ukraine”, “Russia’s war against Ukraine”, “Ukraine’s war against Russia-backed forces” or a “fratricidal war”. In Russia itself, calling the war anything other than a mere “special operation” carries with it the risk of punishment with 10 years of prison colony. If there is a war, Russian officials say, it is with NATO and the US.
How is Ukrainian identity represented on the streets of Europe, and what are the political functions of this representation? How do Ukrainians think about their past in the light of the present? In what sense have European states, especially Germany, reassessed their past alignments in Europe? And how have historians approached the subject of Ukrainian identity?
In this episode we have two conversations on Russia’s war against Ukraine. First we speak to the photographer and writer Evgeniya Belorusets. She is the co-founder of “Prostory”, a journal for literature, art and politics. Her works move at the intersection of art, literature, journalism and social activism, between document and fiction. In the current war, she has become, in her own words, the “hostage of her own war diary” as she remained in Kyiv throughout the Russian attack. Now she is just back from the Venice Biennale where she has worked with the Ukrainian pavilion.
Our second conversation is with Stefan Troebst, a historian and a Slavicist until recently Professor of East European Cultural History at Leipzig University. He has published widely on the modern cultural, political and legal history of Eastern Europe - editor of a book series Visual Historical Cultures. He also worked as a German member for missions of long duration for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the former Yugoslavia and former USSR.