No. 30 - 12/2020: Crossing Borders:
Representations of Ukrainian Diasporas

edited by Tetyana Ostapchuk


Editorial by Tetyana Ostapchuk 
Marina Lewycka, Women’s Work, and the Figure of the Ukrainian Woman as Economic Migrant by Heather Fielding.

Marina Lewycka’s Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is the most prominent portrayal of Ukrainians in contemporary British fiction, but it relies heavily on stereotypes about the Ukrainian woman as hypersexual and hypermaterialist. This article uses Anca Parvulescu’s ideas about east-west economic migration as a “traffic in women’s work” to analyze this stereotype in Lewycka’s fiction. Valentina, who immigrates to the UK to marry an elderly man, is threatening because she refuses the fiction that she is part of the family, instead insisting that she is a working for pay, in labor ranging from cooking to sex. She is also dangerous because she is motivated entirely by consumer desire, and leaves her husband to buy things in the west. The novel imagines her as bringing these shallow economic motives, which leach care and affection out of social bonds, into the British family. A later novel, Various Pets Alive and Dead, reimagines Valentina as Maroushka, an alluring but dangerous financial analyst. Lewycka takes the logic of Valentina to its extreme: Maroushka shows this same flattening of social and affective bonds into a compulsion for money, but this time at a macroeconomic level, as she develops a new hedge fund designed to profit from the collapse of the housing market. Here, Lewycka imagines the Ukrainian woman as a figure for a “gangster” capitalism that threatens to ravage the British economy. These novels connect the stereotype of the Ukrainian woman to anxieties about contemporary global capitalism after the financial collapse of 2008.

Bord(h)ers. Why gender matters in migration and art? by Iuliia Lashchuk 

Feminization has taken an important role in the discourse of migration. The question “If gender matters?” has changed into “Why gender matters?”. Such changes of perspective allow us to discuss the role of gender in the migration process in a completely different way. The unique experience of women with migrant backgrounds becomes more visible. Simplified statistical units finally show their faces. Gender-neutral migrant becomes a woman.The migrant woman, as the Other, is excluded from society both for her origin, background and for her gender, but as an artist she can bring into discussion her voice and visualize her experience. The aim of this text is to characterize a big group of Ukrainian migrants living abroad, which is still invisible – artists, with a focus on female artists – and show their personal story of movement and crossing borders, both physical and mental, represented in the artistic works of Ukrainian female artists, who for many reasons moved abroad or were forced to change their dwelling-place. The article analyses the historical reasons for Ukrainian female artistic migration and follows changes of identity by looking at the example of two works of art of two artists with a different experience of migration – both voluntary and forced.

Ukrainian Canadian B/Orders: Culinary Remembrances and Queer Bordercrossings in Marusya Bociurkiw’s Food Was Her Country by Astrid Fellner 

This paper discusses narratives by Ukrainian Canadian queer writer Marusya Bociurkiw, showing that culinary remembrances in her texts figure as powerful symbols of ethnicity, crossing various borders of nationality, ethnic belonging, and sexuality. Zooming in on her most recent work Food Was Her Country: The Memoir of a Queer Daughter (2018), I argue that Bociurkiw’s ethnic culinary narratives can be read as queer border narratives, which engage the complex narratives of home, belonging, and crossing boundaries. Intervening in debates about displacement, diasporic identity, and national affiliation, Bociurkiw’s culinary texts expose the logic of “culinary citizenship” (Mannur 2010: 20), allowing the narrator to position herself vis-à-vis her home countries via her affective encounters with food.

Borderlands of Georgian Ukrainians by Olga Dorokhina 

Georgia constitutes a multiethnic state, in which representatives of various ethnic and religious groups live side by side. The need for coexistence creates areas of interaction that, under the influence of various factors (internal and external), either unite people or, on the contrary, divide them, forming both physical and outwardly invisible but perceived lines of separation. In recent years, due to various political events, Georgia and Ukraine are often mentioned together. Besides common post-Soviet legacy and challenges to security and sovereignty, the two countries are connected by people – Ukrainians in Georgia and Georgians in Ukraine. This paper focuses on Ukrainians in Georgia. Through the concepts of borderlands, contact zones and identities, I address how the Ukrainian community of Georgia was formed, what it represents today, and how it is integrated in modern Georgian society. The paper presents an overview of representation of Ukrainians in Georgia and methods applied by them to maintain Ukrainian identity.

Ukrainian emigration to Germany after WWII: Formation and Self-Representation of a Transnational Community (1945–1991) by Kateryna Kobchenko 

The article presents a general overview of Ukrainian emigration in West Germany in its development after WWII during two periods – first as Displaced Persons (1945 early 1950s) and then as an exile group in the Federal Republic of Germany. It focuses on the Ukrainian transnational community’s cultural self-representation as well as the peculiarities of Germany as a country of its residence. The community’s existence was centered around political activities, and the cultural and intellectual aspects of its life formed the basic precondition for its self-identification as a national group.

Overcoming the boundaries: strategies of cooperation among Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian diaspora groups in response to the Ukrainian crisis. The comparison of Canada and Turkey by Milana Nikolko and Fethi Kurtiy Şahin.

This article analyzes the dynamics of diasporas’ boundaries with a focus on the cooperation between Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar diaspora groups in Canada and Turkey. The comparison draws on representative examples of diaspora groups’ reactions and collective actions during the unfolding of the Ukrainian Crisis 20142016. Starting with the study of the diaspora groups’ history in Turkey and Canada during the 20th21st centuries, we argue that the complicated ornament of ethnic collective traumas, both caused by Tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union, and the recent crisis compel diasporas to recalculate their separate goals and to proceed with a common agenda.

Full text of issue

Euxeinos 30

Crossing Borders: Representations of Ukrainian Diasporas edited by Tetyana Ostapchuk