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  • 11

    Twists of Nationalism in East Central Europe: Poland, Czechia, and Ukraine

    Advanced seminar arranged by the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.

    Speaker: Valeria Kobarlyova, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine)
    Chair: Irina Sandomirskaja, Södertörn University
    Discussant: Roman Horbyk, Södertörn University

    Ten years back Tony Blair insightfully coined the major dividing line in the 21st century politics, or the core ‘modern choice’, as open versus closed. Indeed, all the recent political turbulence in Europe has structured political field along this cleavage. Quite often this dichotomy gets labeled as cosmopolitanism against nationalism. However, this conceptual framework might be misleading, as on one hand there are divergent phenomena behind the demand for rootedness, be it post-imperial resentment (Brexit), white supremacism (Trump elections), or historical revisionism (Russia). And on the other, nationalism can play in both teams, standing as a vehicle for further integration or as an incarnation of neotribalism. The main question I am attempting to address is whether it is plausible to put nationalism and populism in the same box of parochial adversaries of ‘open society’? Does liberal nationalism, proclaimed by some theorists, exist? And, more broadly, what are the faces of present-day nationalism and national sentiments?

    These questions, albeit universally relevant, rise more sharply in the case of East Central Europe that in the last quarter of century paved its way from party-states to nationalizing states or at least is perceived through this lens. At the same time, there is a clear lack of proper social and political vocabulary to assess developments in the region.

    To unpack the mentioned issues, I’ll put together the cases of Poland, Czechia, and Ukraine that are telling and strikingly divergent. I would claim that Poland presents the aggressive and exclusionary type of nationalism fueled by the anti-EU sentiments and drawing the dividing line between the (true) people and national traitors, as the recent march on the Independence Day saliently demonstrated. The Czech populism can be tentatively labeled as future-oriented ‘neoliberal nationalism’ combining market rationality (implying economic openness) and political parochialism: arguably, strong anti-EU moods in the country are feeding upon historically rooted anti-German sentiments. Finally, within the Maidan uprising in Ukraine a sort of ‘liberal nationalism’ emerged that was mostly ‘civic’ and inclusive, hence ‘liberal’ (Yael Tamir), that is promoting the values and institutions of open society and European integration. However, the ongoing warfare against the backdrop of many failed expectations has been antagonizing the Ukrainian society by deepening the cleavage between ‘liberals’ and ‘nationalists’. As a result, ideological differences start being aggregated along this barricade, while ‘liberal nationalism’ is gradually fading away.

     Dr. Valeria Korablyova is Professor of Philosophy at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Her research interests include post-Soviet transformations and nation-building in Ukraine and East Central Europe, which invoked a number of related projects in international institutions (Stanford University, IWM, and others). In 2017-18 she is teaching a course at the University of Basel titled “Untimely nation: Ukraine in East Central Europe”, while being also a Guest Professor at the Charles University. Her latest book “Social Meanings of Ideology” (Kyiv University, 2014) covers ideological transformations of European modernity, revealing the Maidan uprising as a peculiar case herewith.

    Tid och plats

    När: måndag 11 juni kl. 13:00-14:30

    Vad: högre seminarium

    Var: Room MA 796, CBEES, Södertörn University, Campus Flemingsberg

    Arrangeras av: The Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University

    Evenemangsspråk: engelska