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Nationalism in the borderlands of a borderland: a critical, cartographical, and (de)constructional analysis of contemporary Ukraine

Howlett, Marnie (2021) Nationalism in the borderlands of a borderland: a critical, cartographical, and (de)constructional analysis of contemporary Ukraine. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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With the increased emphasis on nationalism in the modern day, as is evident with Brexit, COVID-19, and the rise of populism in Eastern and Central Europe, this thesis seeks to better understand the lived experience of nationhood and national belonging. The project thus investigates borderland areas to uncover how space, place, and territory implicate ordinary peoples’ experiences of nationhood. By drawing on the case of Ukraine, and three of its smaller administrative regions (Zakarpattia, Chernihiv, and Kirovohrad), the project analyses nationalism in both micro- and macro-level borderlands; Zakarpattia and Chernihiv as territorial borderlands located near Ukraine’s neighbouring geopolitical entities, and Kirovohrad as the centre of the geo-ideological borderland that is Ukraine. By uncovering the ways nationalism is experienced in the contemporary day in light of globalisation, the thesis contests the assumption that nationalism is primarily constructed through top-down efforts by the state and its institutions. The findings therefore push forward Political Science and International Relations literature theoretically, empirically, and methodologically by positing the need to move away from the spatial scale of territory as seen in representations of space to include both grassroots voices and ethnosymbolic ties within smaller representational spaces, particularly borderland areas. As prior studies on post-Soviet Ukraine have equally approached nationalism and identity from the territorial state, the findings from this analysis hence add to the ongoing discussions around cartography, state construction, and nationalism in the twenty-first century whilst also furthering the scholarship on Ukrainian geopolitics and nationalism. Moreover, the project shows how citizens of the same state may identify with different nations, and thus, how several understandings of nationalism and conceptualisations of homeland can (and do) co-exist within a territory. As this is the reality of most modern states, the findings have important implications for international and inter-state relations now and into the future.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Marnie Howlett
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Lankina, Tomila

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