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  • 15

    Public Defence of Doctoral Thesis with Roman Horbyk: Mediated Europes: Discourse and Power in Ukraine, Russia and Poland during Euromaidan

    The public defence of doctoral thesis is organised by Media and Communication Studies at the School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University.

    Roman Horbyk

    Doctoral thesis:
     Mediated Europes: Discourse and Power in Ukraine, Russia and Poland during Euromaidan
    Media and Communication Studies
    Graduate School: The research area of Critical and Cultural Theory at the School of Culture and Education and the Baltic and East European Graduate School (BEEGS) at the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University 
    Faculty examiner: Sabina Mihelj, Professor of Media and Cultural Analysis at Loughborough University, United Kingdom
    Language: English


    This study focuses on mediated representations of Europe during Euromaidan and the subsequent Ukraine Russia crisis, analysing empirical material from Ukraine, Poland and Russia. The material includes articles from nine newspapers, diverse in terms of political and journalistic orientation, as well as interviews with journalists, foreign policymakers and experts, drawing also on relevant policy documents as well as online and historical sources.

    The material is examined from the following vantage points: Michel Foucault’s discursive theory of power, postcolonial theory, Jürgen Habermas’s theory of the public sphere, Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory, Jacques Derrida’s hauntology and Ernesto Laclau’s concept of the empty signifier. The methods of analysis include conceptual history (Reinhart Koselleck), critical linguistics and qualitative discourse analysis (a discourse-historical approach inspired by the Vienna school) and quantitative content analysis (in Klaus Krippendorff’s interpretation).

    Historically, the national narratives of Europe in the aforementioned three countries are characterised by dependence on the West that also sparks periods of its rejection. These narratives vacillate between three major poles: admirative idealism, materialist pragmatics and geopolitical demonising. They are not exclusively endemic to one country and have been present in each to some extent.

    However, weaker actors have tended to lean towards the idealist side because Europe is perceived as a source of important technological and social know-how. Authors in all three countries struggled with defining Europe’s limits, and whilst this problem became intertwined with their own identification, Europeanness is typically constructed as a shock wave fading as it travels eastward from an epicentre located somewhere in north-western Europe.

    These discourses were reactivated and developed in 2013–2014. In the analysed newspapers, Europe is often understood as a continent (most often in Poland) or identified with the EU (Russia and Ukraine), but there is also a strong pattern of using Europe in reference to values which is weakest in Poland and strongest in Ukraine. Ideologically, the liberal publications in all three countries focus on positive values, whereas the conservative and business newspapers are preoccupied with negative values.

    Among the positive values, the humanistic ones dominate the Ukrainian newspapers, and the rationalist-technocratic are typical in the Russian sample. The Ukrainian press account for most of the positive coverage of a successful Europe, whereas the Russian press provide most of the negative coverage (Europe as a failing entity and an enemy). Ukrainian and Russian discourses differ sharply on whether the country should adopt European reforms (Ukraine) or not (Russia). The Polish coverage is polarised between positive and negative values.

    During and after Euromaidan, Ukrainian journalists used the powerful Europe-as-values concept to actively intervene in the political field and recontextualise this narrative of Europe as the official foreign policy narrative. This was enabled, paradoxically, by weak professionalism that made a wavering from a neutral stance possible. Compared to this, in Russia the strong discourse on journalist objectivity constrained journalists in their social practice; rather, it is the official discourse that is recontextualised by the media. Polish journalists, ambiguous about their own influence, work in a loop that recontextualises discourses from the media sphere to the political field and vice versa.
    Keywords: media, discourse, power, postcolonial theory, foreign policy, journalists, politicians, Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Euromaidan

    Time and place

    When: 15/12/17 at 13:00-15:00

    What: Public defence of thesis

    Where: Room MB 503, on the fifth floor in the B-wing, main building, Södertörn University, Campus Flemingsberg

    Organiser: Media and Communication Studies at the School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University.

    Event language: English