Propagating new identities in occupied Ukraine: From the Donbas to Kherson

The Norwegian Network for Research on Ukraine (UKRAINETT), and the Norwegian Defence University College (FHS) are pleased to invite you to a short seminar with Senior Researcher Håvard Bækken and Associate Professor Mykola Homanyuk on 9 October 2023 (09.00 – 10.30 am) at Oslomet, Pilestredet 46, Clara Holsts hus, Athene 1 or via Zoom (NOTE LINK AND PASSWORD BELOW TO ENTER)

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Meeting ID: 628 4121 0591
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In the occupied parts of Ukraine, the use of military force has granted Russia and Russian proxies access to a broad set of identity shaping tools, similar to those of a legitimate state. A multitude of efforts have been put into shaping political and national identities of the local populations. Exploring them shed light on Russian strategic objectives with the occupation as well as weaknesses in its approach.

In the seminar, Håvard Bækken and Mykola Homanyuk will present findings from the research project Contested Ukraine: Military Patriotism, Russian Influences and Implications for European Security. Håvard will introduce his study of militarized identity formation in in the occupied Donbas, examined through local policy documents and activities of military patriotic clubs. Mykola will present his case-study of Russian propaganda billboards in occupied Kherson last year, as observed from within. What can they tell us of the Russian approach to occupied territories? The seminar is chaired by professor Geir Flikke from the University of Oslo.

9-9:05: Words of welcome (Geir Flikke)

9:05-9:35: “Creating Frontline Russians: Militarized identity formation in the Donbas 2014-2021” (Håvard Bækken)

9:40-10:10: “An Inconvenient Present: The Story of Political Advertising in Occupied Kherson” (Mykola Homanyuk)

10:10-10:30 Q&A/Discussion

Geir Flikke (b. 1963) is a professor of Russian area studies at the University of Oslo. He obtained his doctorate at UiO in 2006 on a thesis on the dissolution of the Russian democracy movement in the period 1992-1995. Flikke has worked as an interpreter at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Moscow, was employed at the Center for Russian Studies at NUPI (1995–2006), and as assistant director at NUPI in the period 2006–2010. He has been with the University of Oslo since 2013. From 2021, Flikke leads the project “National Values and Political Reforms in Post-Maidan Ukraine” (VALREF), a four-year research project supported by the Research Council of Norway.

Håvard Bækken has a PhD in Russian Area Studies from the University of Oslo, 2014, and has been a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies since 2015. His current research focus is militarism and military patriotic education in Russia and occupied Ukraine, and he is presently heading the research project Contested Ukraine. Bækken has also published on quasi-legal practices in Russia, and teaches extensively on topics of Russian politics, culture, society, and history.

Mykola Homanyuk is an associate professor at the Kherson State University. He graduated from Kherson State Pedagogical Institute and defended his PhD thesis in sociology at V.N: Karazin Kharkiv National University. He was a fellow at Lane Kirkland’s Fellowship in Maria Coure-Skłodowska University (Lublin), a fewllow at the Indiana University, and s. fellow at Petro Jacyk Non-Resident Scholars Program (University of Toronto). Since 2022, Homanyuk is a member of the Contested Ukraine research group. At present his main research interests are in the sphere of war commemoration, toponymy and symbolic space.

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