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Ideas and Identities

A Festschrift for Andre Liebich

Edited By Jaci Eisenberg and Davide Rodogno

This volume gathers contributions at the intersection of history and politics. The essays, covering such topics as diverse as Italian identity in the Tientsin concession, international refugee policies in the interwar period and after, and the myths and realities of the Ukrainian-Russian encounter in independent Ukraine, show that history provides better grounding as well as a more suitable paradigm for the study of politics than economics or other hard sciences. All of the contributors have a common link – doctoral work supervised and shaped by Professor Andre Liebich – but have since expanded widely in the world. Hence, the authors of this work at once share a common base and yet benefit from diverse viewpoints.
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Deconstructing the Ukrainian Nation-State: Myths and Realities of the Ukrainian-Russian Encounter in Independent Ukraine: Oksana Myshlovska


Deconstructing the Ukrainian Nation-State: Myths and Realities of the Ukrainian-Russian Encounter in Independent Ukraine


For most of the last two centuries, ethnic Ukrainians (variously described as Rusyny1 or Malorosy – “small Russians”) lived on territories dominated by neighbouring states. For ethnic Ukrainians, who lived successively under Russian Tsarist and Austro-Hungarian, then Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, Czechoslovak, and, finally, Soviet domination, conditions both on an international and local level were hardly conducive to national statehood before 1991. In fact, some scholars have referred to Ukraine as “an unexpected nation.”2

The entire post-Soviet period has been dominated by discussions about Ukrainian national identity, the national idea, the nation-state and nation-building. Many have argued that Ukraine needed a shared national idea, a strong national identity and national consolidation in order to survive as a state and to join the ranks of economically successful democracies. The Ukrainian state that came into being in 1991 was conceived as a unilingual nation-state based on the belief that the dominant ethnic group legitimizes the state creation revived by ethnic Ukrainians as of the late 1980s and central to the official ideology of independent Ukraine. Ukrainian was introduced as the only state language, and a new national history narrative and state symbols of the Ukrainian nation were developed or “reinvented” to legitimize the newly emerged state. ← 171 | 172 →

The Ukrainian state has treated national identities and languages as fixed characteristics of groups defined on the basis of “objective” criteria....

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