Identity and Borders in Flux: The Case of Ukraine
Recent elections have heightened fears that populist discourse is driving ethnonationalism across Europe. One recent European election (in Ukraine) has bucked this trend. Although incumbent Poroshenko followed an ethnonationalist playbook (emphasising ethnic, linguistic and patriotic tropes), he lost dramatically to a Russian-speaking comedian (Zelensky) who de-emphasised identity. This project revisits the question of whether ethnonational identity is essentially immutable once formed (Horowitz 1985) or whether it remains highly situational and politically plastic even in countries polarised along identity lines (Brubaker 2004; Hale 2004). The project proposes innovative methods to better untangle the complex relationship between identities, actors interested in shaping them, and political outcomes.
Principal Investigator: Dr Olga Onuch, University of Manchester