Kategorie: Rethinking East European Studies in Times of Upheaval

This TRAFO Blog series runs in parallel to the monthly online seminars held under the same name. In both, researchers discuss the issues and concerns of East European studies in times of change and upheaval – in the context of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, and beyond. Contributions to this blog series can touch upon the most current issues of and in the region, like nationalism, pluralism, the uses and misuses of history and identity, war, resilience, displacement, and destruction and re-construction. Meanwhile, we invite looking into more neglected topics as well, such as new approaches to the Jewish and Muslim pasts of Eastern Europe, or comparisons of experiences in Eastern Europe with those in other regions of the world. Additionally, contributions can address questions on the state and future of East European studies, including their potential decolonization and what this might mean. Texts in this series need not connect to only Ukraine but can be situated in Eastern Europe. We also encourage a transregional approach through comparative perspectives, for example, those on former Yugoslavia, the Arab Spring, Latin American revolutions, or other case studies.


If you are interested contributing or have any questions, please contact us at communication@trafo-berlin.de. For more information on general contribution requirements, please visit our Contributions page. To find out more about the seminars, click here.

Decolonizing Family Metaphors in the Context of the Russian-Ukrainian War and Beyond

By Illia Ilin. The recent history of Ukraine can be metaphorically described as a journey to break away from the abusive “triune Russian people” family and reconnect with the democratic “European peoples” family. This long process of decolonization has been ongoing for over 30 years and signifies the reclamation of Ukrainian territories, history, and identity by the Ukrainian people. This article will explore the family metaphors of (de)colonization of Russia and unified Europe in relation to Ukraine, and the potential for their expansion and decolonization.

Complicity, Past and Present: Portrayals of Involvement in Mass Violence and Terror in Documentary Fiction

By Juliane Prade-Weiss. One of the puzzling questions about Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and other conflicts is why people participate in, support, or condone mass violence when it appears, for observers, so glaringly wrong. Reasons for becoming complicit with violence against civilians vary with individual positions as well as historical and regional contexts. Participation in, aiding and abetting mass violence and the structures of authoritarian, totalitarian or other regimes exerting it are key issues in the social sciences and in history. Yet, literary texts can contribute to understanding complicity, too.

Rethinking East European Studies in Times of Upheaval: Some Reflections on Ukrainian Studies in Germany (and Not Only)

By Andrii Portnov. Ukrainian history and literature in the German higher education system are the disciplines whose institutional weakness is more than obvious. Ukraine itself, in the eyes of a large part of German (including academic) society, still does not have enough cultural and historical agency and remains ‘in the shadow of Russia’.

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