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Holding together Ukraine's East and West: Discourses of Cultural Confrontation and Reconciliation in the Ukrainian Mass Media

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Contemporary Ukraine as a territorial unit comprises areas that historically belonged to different states. It is not surprising then that the search for identity in discourses of the post-Soviet era represents a conflict between different cultural traditions. Modern regional discourses, in particular those of the mass media, often express the "phantom pain" of interrupted belonging to larger cultural entities lying to the east or west. The cultural profile of the eastern part of Ukraine is determined by its high degree of integration into the institutional and mental space of the Russian empire in both its tsarist and Soviet forms. The western part of the country, meanwhile, served as a moving frontier between different civilizations for many centuries. For Galicia (Galychyna) in particular, being the most concentrated embodiment of the "western" Ukrainian mythologies, this meant being part of the Galician-Volynian Slavic

principality, of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, of the interwar Polish Second Republic, and of the former Soviet Union.
The cumulative result of belonging to different cultural spaces in the east and the west is especially visible in the passionate geopolitical stances assumed by modern contemporary Ukraine's easterners and westerners: opinion polls constantly show that the westerners demonstrate particular adherence to the idea of European integration, whereas Ukrainian citizens in the east feel more comfortable about Euro-Asian projects. If one views the European Union and the Common Economic Area as incarnations of old imperial entities, it becomes clear why different regions of the country have different "civilizational identities" and appear to be split between a mood of Soviet nostalgia and fantasies of joining the West. Articulations of a "colonial" perception in regional discourses are also area-related. The issue of colonialism and related problems are omitted from the dominant public discourse in the east, since the history of this part of the country represents a case of being the object (with regard to the rural Ukrainian population) and at the same time the agent (considering the role of the local Russophone elites) of colonial policies. In contrast, the developments in the western part of Ukraine during the period of independence have been driven by an advanced anti-colonial ideology, which has much in common with the Polish and Baltic paradigms.
Although the regions that make up the contemporary Ukrainian state are historically fragments of the Ukrainian ethnic group, which serves as the main basis for present territorial legitimacy, they have brought numerous artifacts of their former identities and historically shaped mentalities into the common cultural "pot." "Ukrainian differentiation from Russia and Poland respectively did not necessarily guarantee unity of those Ukrainians who refused to be Russians with those who refused to be Polish" - states Roman Szporluk writing about the difficulties of national consolidation at the beginning of 19th century, when Ukrainians in both east and West had to maintain their identity against Russians and Poles respectively [Szporluk 2000, 384]. At the beginning of the 21st century, unification has still not been achieved, nor has the process of differentiation been completed. To be more precise, the outcome of differentiation has an asymmetrical contour - with a hermetic state border and clear-cut cultural frontier in the West and a transparent state border (absence of any physical signs) and a broad area of assimilative processes and diffuse identities in the East.
Soviet ideology created a rather distorted pattern of multiculturalism in Ukraine. The pressures of totalitarian ethnic policies violated the natural (former) ethnic composition, which would have shaped Russian-Ukrainian multiculturalism in the East and Polish-Ukrainian multiculturalism in the West. Under Soviet power, the Western component of multiculturalism in Ukraine was suppressed, filtered and distorted. After the mass exodus of Poles from Lviv in 1944, the western boundary of Ukrainian identity began to coincide with Russia's cultural frontier with the western world. Independent Ukraine has inherited a pattern of inverse bipolarity on the western border: at the beginning of 90s, visible forms of multiculturalism in Galicia seemed to be directed toward its Soviet past and disconnected from its more distant Polish and Austro-Hungarian past.
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, however, processes of disjuncture with the West have been interrupted. New political circumstances have produced an irregular pattern of ethnic self-realization and construction of identity. Formerly suppressed historical forms of cultural expression have entered the conceptual space of the identity debate. Contemporary regional transfigurations of no longer current Soviet and pre-Soviet discourses can be approached as competing and conflicting semiospheres that continue to have an impact on the content, direction, and intensity of current national self-expressions. The new identity is a combination of all the former repressing and repressed texts along with new up-to-date ingredients, necessary for survival in the modern world. The issue of east-west disagreements in Ukraine is to a large extent an issue of cultural heritage integration: to what extent cultural meanings, rooted in a multi-layered "western" semiosphere, are acceptable to the east and, on the other hand, in what forms Ukrainian westerners can face the challenge from eastern, empire-shaped attitudes.
The virtual "western" semantic domain (or: realm of meanings?) in Galicia is associated with a romanticized and quite idyllic memory of the Austria-Hungarian past (which provides an example of a "good" empire, tolerant of Ukrainian culture) and with the more complicated and conflictual image of the Polish-Jewish-Ukrainian civilization that was abruptly replaced by the Soviet civilization. Celebrating the birthday of the Emperor Franz Joseph I, honoring Joseph Roth and Bruno Schulz, publishing photographs of pre-war cultural personalities in the local papers - all this helps to keep alive the consciousness of Galician "otherness". The western discourse in Galicia is exemplified in certain materialites, such as the local architecture and the Ukrainian-Polish bilingualism of the older generation. The latter is revived in the writings of the old pre-war intelligentsia whose memoirs help to recreate the distinctive aura of the region.
Yet this kind of historical text appears rather as a vague reminiscence and realm of virtual possibilities, whereas Soviet culture is still present in a number of tangible ways. Despite its relatively short historical duration, Soviet civilization in the west is represented by such persuasive things as demography, and bilingual (Ukrainian and Russian) newspapers and schools with Russian as the language of education in the region where Polish culture had been dominant in urban centres until 1944 (Poles made up 64,8% of the population of Lviv in 1926 and 62,9% in 1943). Contemporary researchers of cultural heritage always have difficulty locating descendants of Polish inhabitants still living in Lviv for interviews. In 2001, only 0,73% of the population in the Lviv oblast (region) and 0,9% of citizens of Lviv identified themselves as Poles. At the same time, the Russian population in Lviv makes up 8,7%, accordingly to the 2001 census [Lozynskyi 2005, 337]. Irregular patterns can be seen in assessments of the city's demographic landscape as well as in the discourse of the local media: in 1989 16,07% of Lviv's inhabitants identified themselves as Russians [Lozynskyi 2005, 329]. Cultural affiliations may be more extensive, however, than these officially registered ethnic identities: Russian cultural society still claims more than 15% of the Russian-speaking people in the city after 2001. Of course, Soviet culture cannot be totally equated with its Russian dominants; it made a significant impact on Ukrainian discourses as well and was promoted through these discourses. Yet the image of Ukrainian-speaking, Ukrainian-conscious culture is considered in Ukrainian democratic journalism to be the most salient alternative to the imperial heritage.
Current public, polemical discourse in Ukraine employs a number of terms that explain the ethnic, linguistic, religious, geopolitical, and mentality differences between the "two parts of Ukraine," such as:
- "Ukrainian-speaking" and "Russian-speaking parts of the country";
- Right-bank and Left-bank Ukraine;
- "Soviet" and "Polish" Ukraine;
- "nationally conscious" (or the narrower: "nationalist") and "denationalized" Ukraine;
- "rural" and "industrial" areas;
- "old" and "new" lands (the population in the old Ukrainian territories depended on the efforts of local women for centuries, whereas the east and south sought to be immigrants' territories) [Vitkovs'kyj, 2005].
Definitions of the two parts are supposed to be determined by the distinctive values upon which they were consolidated and the historical conditions under which they developed. It is commonly accepted that many such definitions reflect mythological rather than real circumstances and entities. The gap between mythological constants and an image of fluctuating heterogeneity is invoked by many authors in discursive strategies of differentiation and clarification: "Ukraine is not only east and west, Ukraine also includes some oblasts in Central Ukraine with their own biographies," or "Ukraine is not bipolar, it is diverse and multicultural." Because of the absence of "real" east and west identities, polemical authors often deal with prototypical cases - such as Lviv and Donets'k. Following the famous debate between Mykola Riabchuk, who drew the public's attention to the problem of Ukrainian cultural polarity in terms of "the two Ukraines," and Iaroslav Hrytsak, who spoke of "twenty two Ukraines" as a more suitable paradigm for the Ukrainian cultural situation, the theoretical extremes in descriptions of Ukrainian multiculturalism were clearly outlined [Riabchuk 2001; Hrytsak 2002]. To adopt a deliberately relativist perspective, it is even possible to speak of "47 million Ukraines" or more - in accordance with the number of individual perceptions of Ukrainians and outside observers of Ukraine.
Besides the subjectivity factor, there is another important reason that influences the choice between the notion of "two Ukraines" and a "multicultural Ukraine." The terms can be shown to correlate with different societal situations and moods. Polarization corresponds to (and is created by) images of "the two Ukraines," whereas post-polarization (correlating with intense mediative processes) provides a convenient social starting-point for scholarly and media conceptions of "multiculturalism." Imagined or/and real images of polarization and/or differences remain instruments for shaping the minds of millions in the country. They both contain an ideational matrix of the Ukrainian future.
In the Soviet period, the complication of Ukraine's dual geopolitical ancestry, texts, mentalities, and values was hidden behind the slogans of declared Soviet supranational identity, which has been criticized in postcolonial discourse as a form of domination by Russian language and culture in Ukraine. After years of profound suppression of the problem of differences, the two culturally and linguistically distinct parts of Ukraine - East (East-South) and West (plus Central Ukraine) -have been negotiating their visions and identities through a variety of discourses. The forms range from peaceful dialogue to angry accusations and invectives.
The issue of the cultural divide is one that is deeply ingrained in the mass consciousness and is both emotionally painful and politically consequential. The prospect of political disintegration has never been excluded from the political agenda in Ukraine. In particular, it was discussed extensively before, during and after the Orange revolution, and the media debates in the "modern" Ukrainian press that I shall discuss below are taken from this period. The intense social processes of this time had a direct impact on the formation of basic meanings in discourses about identity. The revolution became the focus of both polarization and unification processes and dramatically highlighted the very problem of "holding together."
In a specifically linguistic sense, this paper seeks to examine the construction of the "East-West" negotiation in public discourse. Here two factors are crucial:
1) the author's intentions and orientation with regard to the strategic goal of negotiation, i. e. whether or not parts of Ukraine should (and are likely to) agree;
2) the content and implications of the most hotly debated issues (subject-positioning, dealing with the main points of disagreement). Within the "East-West" discourses relating to what is envisioned by "unity," I shall further distinguish between conflicting discourses and discourses of reconciliation. This distinction corresponds to some extent to the traditional rhetorical paradigm of dissent and consent [Jasinski 1990, 53], as well as to notions of assimilative and dissimilative strategies in critical discourse analysis [Wodak 1999, 33].
Conflicting discourses (or: discourses of confrontation) suggest a framework that stresses symbols and visions of cleavages, justifies cultural divides, and proclaims or implies a refusal to cooperate or search for the common ground. The basic message of such discourses is the impossibility of different parts of the country ever coming to terms. Discourses of confrontation are usually built on rigid causal links: they stress the profound nature of the split and imply the prospect of further, continuing divergence.
Discourses of reconciliation (or: discourses of mediation), on the other hand, are directed toward the ideal of common values and national solidarity; they suggest a sacral vision of unity, promote consensus over values, work out a basis for common identity, and cultivate the prospect of future convergence. Unity and cooperation are regarded as normative intentions in this kind of discourse.
With respect to the concrete social perspective, discourses of reconciliation support the idea of a political nation and a civil society. By contrast, conflicting discourses prioritize local identities along with their distinctive ethnic component. Their political implications vary from justifying maximal distances between regional identities to promoting federalism or secession projects. The most "fundamentalist" versions of such confrontational discourses are associated with the "odious" images of "Galician," "Transcarpathian," and "Donbas" separatism. The table below maps the differences between discourses of reconciliation and conflicting discourses according to mode, vision and structure.

discourses of reconciliation
conflicting discourses
Psychological mode
tolerance, cooperation, mediation
in-group favoritism
Political vision
political nation; unitary state or "evolutionary" prospect of harmonious federalism
accent on local demands; politically motivated separation and isolationism
Linguistic structure
dialogic model, two-sided discourses
monologic, one-sided discourse
avoiding contrasting voices


The archetype of division is as stable as the archetype of unity, yet it has fewer opportunities for legal actualization. Normally discourses of division and separatism are as rare as programmes of explicit social deviation in the legal public space. Their usual role in the construction of power relationships is as an object of ideological suppression. Hence discourses of unity function as official, mainstream, dominant forms of representation while representations of "dividing" views are marginalized. However, during periods of revolutionary transition ideas of disintegration usually flourish in the mass consciousness and enter public discourse as they did in Ukraine in 1991 (independence proclaimed) and 2004 (the Orange revolution). In fact, the discourse of East-West disagreements reached their emotional and conceptual peaks during these periods. When the paradigm of "the two Ukraines" was put in motion by purely "technological" means at these times, it seemed to be subordinated to explicit political purposes.
Conflicting discourses generated by the archetype of cultural divide can exist in two forms - political extremism and intellectual subversion. The former includes direct political statements relating to a program of disintegration, the latter is characterized by subtle and culturally situated forms of discrimination that are not overtly tied to political objectives. Both forms of discursive confrontation were salient and numerous during the Orange revolution. Yet the situation in the east and west can be contrasted in terms of the significance of political or "polemical" (i.e. debate in the public space) representations. Eastern Ukrainian leaders, specifically in Donets'k and Kharkiv, produced clearly formulated programmes of political separatisms, whereas western Ukraine remained the guardian and protector of the idea of unity. The Galician community was lucky to escape the traditional suspicions and accusations of separatist inclinations. Separatism was in no way represented in this area politically. At the same time, in a conceptual sense, the western Ukrainian democratic press during the Orange revolution became a place of expression for "rebel" discourses and non-conformist treatments of interregional relations. A number of conflicting discourses appeared that were directed not against political unity, but against ritualistic forms of interregional communication and the absence of its expected outcomes. The western conflicting discourses questioned traditional forms of unity, rather than the strategic vision of unity as such. They were, in fact, designed as emotional appeals for dignity and struggled for deeper and more honest meanings to the concept of intercultural communication: "I am annoyed that talking about our love for Donets'k is a good tone for the Galician citizen to take. (...) I am annoyed that we try to be tolerant. That we try to persuade them with our arguments that are understandable only to us. Dear Donetskites, don't believe it if you are told that everything will be OK and that we love you. (...) Do not believe those who say that we are ready for dialogue. Right now we are ready for the first time to be egoists just like you have always been" [Boren'ko 2004].
In fact many conflicting discourses in such a tense situation of choice as the elections were about the price of unity. Both sides - the pro-Ianukovych easterners and pro-Iushchenko westerners - did not want to pay for unity with the loss of their traditional forms of identity. Regional isolation was considered to be a last-ditch conceptual and political route that would become necessary only if a regional group felt ultimately threatened. The West was threatened by the image of "totalitarian return" while the East was frightened at the prospect of "nationalist expansion." The reaction of the eastern radicals was drastic, while the western discourse, because of the pressure of authoritarian political resources, could not be entirely idealistic, peaceful, and cut off from radical visions either. In their most radical version, such discourses sometimes hinted of a "separate way" for Galicia. In their milder version, they suggested unity without moral compromise. However, occasional "dividing" framing was quantitatively and conceptually counterbalanced by discourses of reconciliation both in their analytical forms and populist variants, which tended to reiterate the slogans of unity as kind of a mantra. Considering the balance between honest doubt, a moderate approach to emergency options and a sense of civic responsibility (which eventually prevailed), the discourse of the Western Ukrainian media, taken as an overall conceptual field, may be regarded as a model of a responsible intelligentsia's reaction to an extreme situation.
The extensive revolutionary and early post-revolutionary talks about how to save Ukraine from political disintegration and cultural excommunication were later referred to as the "intelligentsia's fears." In the post-polarization period, questioning the normative solidarity has become rare. There are several reasons for this: public emotions have vanished, the focus has shifted to the economic issues. On the other hand, freedom and democracy provide opportunities for free discussion of the integration-disintegration alternatives. The Party of Regions, which opposed Viktor Iushchenko during the Orange revolution, tried to legitimize the idea of federalization in the partisan ideological press and put it forward as an alternative to devastating separatism. The idea of the cultural divide continues to penetrate public discourse in more cautious analytical forms: as an identity issue rather than as an ideological and political agenda. It appears dispersedly - as discrete arguments. Also, "confrontational" voices have become impersonal: the discourses pretend to monitor the situation, not to voice personal judgments. An author's position often appears to stem from a network of ideas, enabled by the integrative mission of media. As a product of public interest, the discourse of the mass media provides a synthesis of all the opinions analyzed in a more or less coherent form. A "balanced" discourse (which includes the antagonist's, protagonist's, and mediator's roles, and addresses both pro- and contra- arguments) often seems to avoid any responsibility for the conclusion, leaving an open-ended possibility and combining elements of belief and disbelief. Yet because of the structural position of the mediator, any text remains an author-orchestrated, selective and intentional construction.
To summarize, I use the terms "conflicting" and "mediative" discourses in a strategic sense, not for precise categorization. The majority of real discourses do not fit into a strict classification of reconciliatory and confrontational types. They merge features that may be described according to a number of intentional, content-related and structural scales: political involvement versus intellectual interest; direct and overt appeals versus indirect, implicit and subtle programmes; personal opinion versus overview of the other's programs; precise conclusions and prognoses versus open possibilities; emotion versus rational judgment.
The starting-point for all discourses dealing with the problem of cultural integration are rhetorical topoi of difference and similarity.
Topoi of similarity and common identity include:
- Statements of unity, noting common features and activities: "It is pleasing that today people in the west as well as in the east gather under blue-yellow flags in order to pray for the unity of Ukraine";
- Abandoning the divide: "There are no significant differences between us."
The topoi of similarity and abandoning the split become the basic conceptual material in the discourses of reconciliation. In their purist form they exist mainly in populist discourses that call for direct action. The famous appeal of the Orange revolution "East and West together" served simultaneously as an apocryphal statement about the status quo as well as a performative one.The topoi of unity become the natural, logical precursors of political visions of unification: unity today means unity tomorrow and implies the impossibility of a split.
Topoi of difference, meanwhile, stress confrontation related to different parameters of social diversification - linguistic, religious, ethnic:
- "We are different": "We have to understand that underthe roof of a single Ukrainian state two quite different communities live"; "Anyway, there is no productive dialogue between Galicia and Donets'k on any level";
- "The similarities between us are not significant": "...Despite some artificially constructed common interests we are going to follow different paths";
- "There is a principal disagreement": "Your vision of Ukraine as pro-Russian is alien to me."
Topoi of difference can be the starting-point for two different, even opposite, conclusions about the possibility or impossibility of overcoming divisions in future:
- the first model is based on the logical connection "despite": "despite the differences we will be united"; it represents a "realistic" version of the discourse of reconciliation;
- the second model is based on "thus" logic: "we are different, so (thus) we can't be really united" ("The differences have too deep roots to disappear in a miraculous way"); it includes instances of "negative fatalism."
Such flexibility in the transition from premises to conclusions (different conclusions are drawn from the same premise) shows that rhetoric itself is not responsible the geopolitical visions - it merely provides argumentative support for different intentions and their corresponding claims. It is highly indicative of the constructivist potential of mass media framing.
Discourses deal in various ways with the modes of the "real" and the "desirable" in issues touching upon the cultural divide. The focus of many discourses is the discrepancy between intention and possibility ("we want unity but it is not possible"), while others equate intention and possibility ("we want unity and this means that it is possible"). Epistemologically, such discursive approaches are linked to primordial and constructivist stances in the analysis of social knowledge.
The constructivist approach in discourses about the east-west relationship is optimistic and transforming - it stresses the possibility of significant shift in the construction of identity even if the basic circumstances are not ideal.

Statement about initial situation
constructivist prospect (logic of transformation)
primordial prospect (logic the of conservation)
Deep divide

overcoming the divide
reproduction or deepening of the divide


If "construction" means to improve inter-group relations, it widely uses the "transformative, or assent-producing, capacity of rhetorical and argumentative practice" [Jasinski 1990: 53]. Such discourse tries to build positive prospects through strategies that introduce, enhance, and perpetuate a unifying approach. A number of significant meaningful steps can be observed in texts with distinctive constructivist-reconciliatory trends:
- stressing positive dynamics: "the divide exists but it is shrinking"; "Donets'k and Lviv oblasts: social distances are getting closer";
- differentiation: "the split exists only in some spheres";
- reframing the dividefinding alternative criteria for division instead of those traditionally suggested. For example, in the discourse of the Orange revolution, regional differences were replaced by moral ones;it was common for the Ukrainian media to state that Ukraine is divided not into East and West but into "honest citizens" and "bandits," "corrupt power" and the "people": "We - the easterners and the westerners - are figuring out today what is going on not between ourselves but between all the people and the criminals in power";
- reference to historical models of cooperation: "For centuries the Ukrainian lands have been a motherland for many peoples";
- direct use of obligatory modalities in the discourses of geopolitical analysis: "we have to create..."; "we are obligated to save...";
- pointing out the manageability of the divides ("we can overcome them", "they will not last forever");
- positive depiction of differences ("the differences enhance our culture");
- correcting stereotypes about "the other" ("now we see that the westerners are not evil "banderivtsi" who take resources from the Donetskites").
Mediating discourses are sensitive to the variables of temporality ("the line of cleavage will not be erased soon") or intensity ("we can only expect the formation of initial grounds for a common identity").
Negotiation of the particulars in discourses about east-west relations takes place not only through explicit statements regarding the absence or presence of the divide, and the possibility or impossibility of fixing or managing the divide in the future. The discourses themselves become instruments of conflicting interpretation, predominantly as a result of content framing and modes of historical narration. Disagreement and debate can arise at any point where the dual civilizational ancestry and related historical semantic layers are involved. Mythologies of "the east" and "the west" are bound up with different framings of the totalitarian and imperial heritage. A commonplace example would be what is defined in the western Ukrainophone parts of the country as tsarist and Soviet "russification" (state-sponsored policies aimed at ideological and linguistic assimilation of non-Russians) - but which is framed in the east as "protection of the rights of the Russian-speaking population." Historical symbols - personalities, events, institutions, and artifacts - become indicators of regionally determined ideological meanings: "Monuments to Lenin and Bandera can not stand in the same city. Even such occasional common symbolic figures as Bohdan Chmel'nyts'kyi have different meanings in the east and the west" [Zaitsev, 2005].Ukraine in its cultural biography has unique, absolutely original signs (it was important to mention about signs here) of belonging to both East and West or opposing both East and West. The GreekCatholic Church, for example, may be cited in order to illustrate a pattern of simultaneous involvement with both western and eastern cultural agendas, while the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) is seen as a symbol of opposing two totalitarian giants - Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany (despite OUN's initial period of collaboration with the latter). Discussing such "mixed" phenomena creates intense public controversy in the eastern parts of the country. In particular, the most frequently used derogatory name for the Ukrainian westerners: "banderivtsi" (derived from the name of Stepan Bandera) evokes the history of the OUN. Debates surrounding the complicated cultural and political phenomena mentioned above serve the evolutionary process of replacing imperial (Soviet-rooted) paradigms with independence-centered understandings as well as discourses that I would define as anti-colonial.
Anti-colonial discourse, which stresses the points of differentiation between Ukraine and Russia,is a specific spiritual emanation of the national-democratic cultural field associated with the western territories. It can be seen as time-and-spatial phenomenon, with regard to the process of its territorial expansion as well as chronological unfolding. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, anti-colonial discourses have gradually introduced new stylistic and ideological codes to the public, and have been growing progressively more acceptable as one moves from the west to the east of the country. The subversive meanings of associated with national uniqueness (but not exclusiveness) have moved from the "wild west" to the "mild west" and then to the center. The all-national mass media based in Kyiv are expected to reflect, in both their language and ideology, the concerns of both parts of the country. The capital has always served as a mediator between extreme visions as well as a filter for radicalism on both sides. It should be stressed that eastern Ukraine is not necessarily a zone closed to the idea of separating the national interests of Ukraine and Russia. More than 83% of the population of Donets'k and Lugans'k oblasts, for example, voted for independence in 1991, which was considered almost a miracle and a promising basis for the formation of an all-Ukrainian identity. However, it is widely accepted that this move was caused by pragmatic, mostly economic considerations (anticipating more opportunities for the regional economy). The national cultural ingredient was barely detectable as a motivation. Thus, the anti-colonial discourse as a well-elaborated ideology of cultural distinctions is a product specifically of the nationally minded westerners. Western Ukraine and the so-called "national-democratic" media are the generators of multiple "anti-imperial" meanings. Certain prominent intellectuals in exile who was born in the east often devote themselves to Ukrainian culture, but many average citizens in this terrain feel comfortable with Russia-centered culture and ideologies, which constitutes electoral basis for political parties and leaders declaring anti-Ukrainian slogans.
I would further describe Ukrainian anti-colonial perceptions in the media and literature as in transition from an oppressed counter-discourse during the time of the Soviet Ukraine to an influential vehicle for changing the patterns of mainstream political culture in the current period of independence. Absorption of the opposite opinion into official articulations of national identity can take place at different levels: a) as a total substitution; b) as an interference, resulting in hybrid forms; c) as an oppositional discourse.
Unlike Russia, the official successor to the Soviet Union, which has tended to adopt hybrid forms of post-Soviet ideology (for example, the overhaul of the Soviet anthem, nostalgic and neo-imperial discourses), Ukraine has departed much further from the Soviet patterns and more thoroughly replaced the former dominant ideological models. There is a rational explanation for this: departing from the Soviet patterns of identity has meant for Ukraine, also departing from Russian identity. The most significant shifts therefore took place in a climate of national self-awareness: society restored extensively its missing national ingredients. In contrast, Russia was not able and not willing to become too remote from its former, nationally uninhibited self.
The Ukrainian pre-Soviet past did much to facilitate this transition. Because of the memories recorded in "repressed texts," the conceptual revolution was anticipated and explainable: it could be interpreted as a recovery, a rebirth, a revival, and a return. Politically, Ukraine has been postcolonial since 1991, although the "mental ending" issue is still being debated. Despite the fact that the extent and reliability of liberation is a matter of different evaluations, we can identify a certain history of postcolonial thinking. The "life cycle" of anti-colonial discourse, based upon the strategies of differentiation, can be described as a series of sequential stages:
- the beginning of the cycle: mapping points of conceptual bifurcation under conditions of political pressure;
- mass acceptance and institutional support: former subversive discourses take on new norms in the public space;
- conceptual mediations, the shift from political to existential interpretations.
The beginning of the large-scale anti-totalitarian and anti-colonial conceptual replacement was heroic and required people with a feeling of missionary zeal. Ukrainian writer Vasyl' Stus, a former prisoner of the Soviet concentration camp system, who died in Kolyma in 1985, was one of the earliest to diagnose Ukrainian culture as a colonial culture. Stus' case is remarkable in two senses. First of all, he joins the cohort of those outstanding individuals, whose earthly road led to Golgotha and whose spirit served the mission of liberation. Second, certain symbolic meanings in his biography are related to his dual regional belonging. Stus' life represents a mediated spiritual project - combining East and West: he was born in the western oblast - Vinnyts'ka, and then lived since childhood in russified Donbas. So his perception of the Ukrainian official ideologies was not abstract - he embodied existentially many aspects of the Ukrainian situation with regard to the problem of ethnic discrimination and the dominant status of Russian culture in the empire.
In the decade prior to independence, he noted the following points of disagreement with colonial power and laid down a program for new modes of national self-awareness:
- Religious spirituality instead of atheism. In the atheistic Soviet Union Stus realized the connections between choosing a rebellious path and the archetype of Christ. He wrote of one of his colleagues in the camp: "A person who does not have either letters or money (even four roubles a month for buying foodstuffs), behaves with outstanding dignity. Relying on God's mercy, he is sure that he will die right here, during this crucifixion. But he does not blame his fate: it is beautiful, because he is a martyr for the faith" [Stus 1992, 225].
- Anti-colonialism versus the concept of "Soviet brotherhood." Vasyl' Stus treated Ukrainian literature as a "typical colonial literature" and raised the question about the presence of cultural elites in Soviet Ukraine: "Do we have any Ukrainian intelligentsia? I think that either it does not exist or it is all young and immature" [Stus 1992, 221].
- Positive acceptance of anti-totalitarian movements abroad versus the traditional view of "socialist camp" solidarity. His evaluation of the role of Poland in the 1980s is one of the earliest ideological transgressions that seem to be strikingly insightful today: "... I follow the events in Poland. Long live the volunteers of freedom. (...) There is no other nation in the totalitarian world that would defend its human and national rights so devotedly. Poland serves as an example for Ukraine..."; "Poland is creating an epoch in the totalitarian world and preparing its downfall" [Stus 1992, 223].
Since the time of Stus' death twenty years ago, Ukraine has progressed from its first realization of the country's opportunity for democracy and independence to full awareness of the post-Soviet challenges. Individuals with heroic fates (dissidents, political prisoners) marked the beginning of the cycle of de-communization and de-colonization, whereas the end of the cycle is marked by mass modes of acceptance. The questions raised by Stus have been discussed in the mass media in a number of thematic versions. It was partly as a result of this conceptual transition having been completed in independent Ukraine, that the center, in particular the capital, joined the "western" set of mythologies during the Orange revolution.
A central group of problems that remains unresolved in the process of discursive and ideological negotiation between the eastern and western parts of the country has to do with discourses concerning the "outside enemy". In particular, the issues associated with World War II became highly contested questions in both east and west during the preparations for the 60th anniversary of the ending of the war. The two competing scenarios - "heroic Soviet soldiers against evil enemies" and "the clash between the two aggressors" - encountered one another in the national media. It comes as no surprise that in western Ukraine president Iushchenko was blamed for his participation in "the imperial show on Red Square" [Magdysh]. Most remarkably, alternative scenarios became available to all-Ukrainian audiences thanks to certain publications emanating from Kyiv-based media outlets. The counter-discourses suggested alternative visions of both the structure of the main forces in the war and their consequences for Ukraine: "Stalin and Hitler were allies who divided Europe in a totalitarian manner," "friendship of communists with Nazis," "division of Europe by the two predators," "Soviet government in Ukraine - local Soviet vassal of Russia" [Lozyns'kii, 2005]. The mass media, including the Kyiv-based outlets, gradually incorporated into the all-Ukrainian discourse the motif of existential tragedy as opposed to the motifs of absolute victory over evil. Constructive efforts by the state were evident in 2005 in the smalls ads of reconciliation that appeared in the newspapers (addressed to both UPA soldiers and Soviet veterans). Nevertheless, polemical discourse continues to construct oppositions between "winners" and "traitors." Such disagreements represent Ukraine's continuing oscillation between the "Soviet" and "anti-colonial" stances.
Negotiation between "regional" discourses, including conflictive exchanges, is directed toward finding methods of reconciliation. At least this allows for the diagnoses to be clarified. With respect to all-national identity (or the strategic vision of such identity), the regional discourses fulfill two main functions, not necessarily mutually exclusive: 1) to reproduce differences, fueled by local geopolitical perceptions and inspired by the regional historical discourses; 2) to create influential patterns of intertextuality and thus negotiate "common values." Periods of sociopolitical polarization enhance the function of discursive differentiation. During the Orange revolution, dominant regional discourses in the east and south of Ukraine cultivated Soviet ideologemes and tried to freeze the postcolonial status quo. Yet, such ideological regressions only intensified discourses of consolidation at the level of state ideology and public communicative initiatives ("East and West together"). The adoption of an all-national cultural and political program with distinctive anti-colonial implications is a gradual and complicated process. The state symbols, at first considered in the east to be "Galician imports", later became more accepted. Anti-colonial processes in Ukraine appear both as a specific national experience and as a chronological stage in a series of international anti-colonial developments. "It was Poland in 1980, Prague in 1989. Now it's our turn" - Oksana Zabuzhko wrote of the events surrounding the Ukrainian presidential elections in 2004. After the Orange revolution Ukraine has found itself caught between two different geopolitical understandings: "The fall of the Soviet Union is the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century" (Vladimir Putin) and "Russia without Ukraine is better than Russia with Ukraine" (Aleksander Kwaśniewski). External polarities create powerful gravitations for Ukrainian regional ideologies, associated with ethnic, cultural, and language divisions. Without doubt, they have significant conflictive potential. However, the advantage of the current situation, compared to the Soviet times, is that the gravitational fields have become symmetrical. In other words, there is equilibrium now that there is no longer one-sided colonial pressure.


Bibliography:

Boren'ko, Y., 2004, Moya beznadiina negotovnist' do dialogu: Notatky pislia telemostu "Kyiv-Lviv-Lugans'k", Lvivs'ka gazeta, 28 grudnia.
Hrytsak, I., 2002, Dvadtsiat' dvi Ukraiiny. Krytyka. № 4.
Jasinski, J., 1990, An Exploration of Form and Force in Rhetoric and Argumentation, [in:] Argumentation Theory and the Rhetoric of Assent, The University of Alabama Press.
Lane Bruner M., 2002, Strategies of Remembrance: The Rhetorical Dimensions of National Identity Construction, University of South Carolina Press.
Magdysh, I., Nasha porazka u Drugii svitovii viini http//www.ji-magazine.lviv.ua/dyskusija/vlada/magdysh.htm
Lozyns'kii, R., 2005, Etnichnyi sklad naselennia Lvova. Lviv: Vydavnychyi tsentr LNU imeni Ivana Franka.
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Stus, V., 1992, Vikna v pozaprostir. Virshi, statti, lysty, shchodennykovi zapysy. Kyiv: Veselka.
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Szporluk, R., 2000, Russia, Ukraine, and the Breakup of the Soviet Union, Hoover Institution Press, Standford University.
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[From: Korek. J. (edit.) From Sovietology to Postcoloniality. Poland and
Ukraine in the Postcolonial Perspective, Södertörn Academic Studies 32,
Stockholm, 2007, ss. 177-191]

 

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