Tag Archive: Ukraine


Mission accomplished… not

UKR-TAZ announces a new mission:

The concept of the TAZ, or temporary autonomous zone, comes from “ontological anarchist” writer and poet Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson). It is intended to indicate a space of liberation, a space which is at once physical and real, if temporary, and metaphysical — a space of consciousness outside of the mental frames of social structure, from which a reimagination of the world may proceed.

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Ukraine & the threat of direct democracy

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“Power to the millions, not to the millionaires” (#Leftmaidan)

 

Three forms of democracy vie with each other in Ukraine today.

The first of these is what we might call authoritarian democracy. This is a hybrid of democracy and authoritarian rule, in which partially developed democratic institutions can be relatively easily played off against each other by the powers-that-be to maintain their rule.

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“COUNTRY UNDER RECONSTRUCTION. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.” (from Ukrainian anarchist group Blackmaidan)

“It is as if, for a moment, the ‘projection’ of the outside world has stopped working; as if we have been confronted momentarily with the formless grey emptiness of the screen itself…”  (Slavoj Zizek, describing the scene outside a traveling couple’s window in Robert Heinlein’s “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag”)

 

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Ukrainian update

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Regular readers will know of my interest in Ukraine, where I lived for a year as a Canada-USSR Scholar in 1989-90, and where I’ve visited at least ten times since, for varying lengths of time.

I’ve been following events unfolding there from afar, and have begun a blog called UKR-TAZ: A Ukrainian Autonomous Zone, which collects statements by Ukrainian writers, scholars, and cultural leaders on the revolution (which is what it should be called, at this point).

The following is a pretty good summary of important facts about the revolution. It’s a complex situation, so there’s always a risk of oversimplification. But this is a very good start.

 

 

 

The groundlessness of revolution

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Every violent suppression of dissent is violence against the humanity that is being born. The world to come is at stake in these encounters.

That’s what I tweeted last night while watching what looked like the squashing of a revolution, when riot police appeared by the thousands and began moving in on the territory held by Ukrainian protesters in downtown Kyiv (Kiev, pronounced “kay-eev” in Ukrainian). Watching these events on the multiple live video feeds available to a global audience was transfixing. Together with the constant stream of commentary in social media — I followed Facebook, Twitter, and the feeds on the streaming TV sites, but there were other options available — made it seem like a genuinely global insurrectionary event.

The following are some reflections on this experience, contextualized within global geopolitics, Ukrainian politics, the ecology of media, and the recent history of analogous events elsewhere (such as those I have blogged about earlier in Iran and Egypt).

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My upcoming talk at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs comes from the East European strand of my research.

The talk will be called “Becoming Tuteishyi: Peregrinations in the Zona of Ukraine, with Walter, Gloria, Andrei, Bruno, and Other Explorers.”

The description reads as follows:

Drawing on the author’s research and travels, this talk will consider Ukraine’s ambiguous positioning within global cultural discourse by recourse to theories of borderlands (via Walter Mignolo and Gloria Anzaldua), hybridity and amodernity (via Bruno Latour and Donna Haraway), postcommunism and postcolonialism, and to images of anomalous zones and errant wanderings, with particular attention to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker.

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Illienko’s poetic cinema

The following is an article I originally wrote in 1989, or maybe 1988, after seeing three films by Ukrainian poetic cinema master Yuri Illienko (a.k.a.  Iurii/Yurij/Jurij Ilyenko/Ilienko/Illyenko/Il’yenko). Two of the films — A Well for the Thirsty and Eve of Kupalo Night, or St. John’s Eve — had languished unseen under Soviet censorship for some twenty years. They are screening this coming week at New York’s Lincoln Center.

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Post-Soviet riot grrls

While this doesn’t have much to do with the usual themes of this blog, it is an interesting case study of media culture and political protest (and one that my Ukrainian studies background qualifies me to comment on).

It’s the case of Pussy Riot supporter Inna Shevchenko, an activist with the Ukrainian feminist protest group Femen. Let’s figure it out:

A (western-style) feminist activist-performance group best known for (literally) exposing themselves to gain media exposure (with the help of happily obliging male photographers) chainsaws down a cross commemorating Stalin’s Ukrainian victims as an act of solidarity with anti-authoritarian punk-feminists Pussy Riot. (Those are the three musicians recently sentenced to two years in jail for their “sacrilegious” anti-government performance in a Russian church. More on them later.)

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I was going to post something to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, but Sarah Phillips has already posted something so good, saying many of the things I would have wanted to say, that I will simply link to her article at Somatosphere and add some personal notes of my own. The result reads more like a love letter to post-Chernobyl Ukraine than a lament. So be it.

First, a couple of choice bits from Sarah’s article:

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Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964)

Film director Yuri Ilyenko, one of the outstanding cinematographers and directors of the short-lived but significant Ukrainian New Wave, has passed away at age 74. Ilyenko (aka Illienko, Ilienko) first shot into prominence as the cinematographer on Sergei Paradjanov’s epochal Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964), which launched what became known as “Ukrainian Poetic Cinema,” a movement based mainly at Dovzhenko Film Studios in Kyiv. In the years following, Ilyenko directed a series of critically lauded films including “A Well-Spring for the Thirsty” (Krynytsia dlia sprahlykh), considered a sobering, post-Holodomor updating of Aleksander Dovzhenko’s classic “Earth” (Zemlya), the wildly experimental “Eve of Ivan Kupalo” (Vechir na Ivana Kupala), “White Bird with a Black Mark” (Bilyi ptakh iz chornoyu oznakoyu), “A Forest Song (Lisova pisnia: Mavka“), and “Swan Lake: The Zone” (Lebedyne ozero: Zona).

Made in 1966, “Well-Spring” was shelved by Soviet censors for over two decades until it was officially released during the Glasnost era in 1988. “Eve of Ivan Kupalo” (1968) was rarely screened in the Soviet Union as well, but with “White Bird with a Black Mark” (1971) Ilyenko carved out a viable compromise between artistic integrity and a storyline that satisfied the Soviet censors. The film was awarded the Grand Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. Ilyenko’s efforts in recent years, especially the controversial “A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa” (2001), met with more mixed reviews.

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