Breaking the Tongue: Mapping Language in Wartime Ukraine @ 1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138-4453, United States, Boston [15 November]

Breaking the Tongue: Mapping Language in Wartime Ukraine

13:30 - 16:00

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1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138-4453, United States
Please join us for the launch of our latest MAPA: Digital Atlas of Ukraine project. Viktoria Sereda, Kostyantyn Bondarenko, and Serhii Plokhii will present their research on language in contemporary Ukraine, as well as demonstrate how to use the MAPA tools.

The language issue in Ukraine has long historical roots, and even after Ukraine’s independence it remained in the center of the nation- and state-building processes. Different political parties often used language tensions for political mobilization or to draw imagined regional divisions. It also served as an important marker in defining cultural and national identities or allegiances. However, after the Euromaidan it took on a new dimension. Fueled by the Revolution of Dignity, subsequent annexation of Crimea, and ensuing war, the changes in Ukraine’s sociolinguistic landscape were not so unidirectional. On the one hand, those events contributed to intensive reflections on and a (re)articulation of the role of Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the process of political nation-building, making them a part of a new national heroic narrative. On the other hand, Russia used the language question as a pretext for occupying or annexing Ukrainian territories, and actively exploited the issue in its propaganda war and disinformation campaign. These factors could have pushed many Ukrainian citizens to change their attitudes toward language practices and the coexistence of Ukrainian and Russian languages in the country. In some circumstances, Russian-speaking Ukrainians may have decided to adopt the Ukrainian language for daily communication in order to forestall Russian aggression or out of patriotic reasons. Through the MAPA “Language” module, we can explore and visualize changes in the sociolinguistic landscape of Ukrainian society between 2013 and 2017.

Viktoriya Sereda, HURI MAPA Project Research Fellow; Kostyantyn Bondarenko, MAPA Project Manager; Serhii Plokhii, Director, Ukrainian Research Institute
Room S-050, CGIS South, Harvard University
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