Identity and Borders in Flux (IBiF): The Case of Ukraine

Identity and Borders in Flux (IBiF): The Case of Ukraine

AUGUST 24, 2021 - A woman and a boy in vyshyvankas partake in the procession celebrating the 30th anniversary of Ukraine s independence. IMAGO / Ukrinform

This collaborative project is coordinated by Dr Olga Onuch (University of Manchester) as Principal Investigator. ZOiS Director Prof. Gwendolyn Sasse is involved as Co-Investigator alongside Prof. Henry Hale (George Washington University) and Dr Volodymyr Kulyk (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine). The project is primarily funded by the British Academy with additional funding from ZOiS and George Washington University’s Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies.

Project description

This project (2019–2022) revisits the question of how stable or situational ethnic and civic identities are at moments of crisis. The case study at the heart of the project is Ukraine. Employing a series of innovative methods, the project aims to untangle the complex relationship between identities, the actors interested in shaping them, and political preferences and outcomes. Conceptually, the project is located at the intersection of political science, sociology and social psychology. One key focus of the project is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on identities and political and health behaviour. Another focus are local-level developments during the 2020 local elections and an ongoing process of decentralisation.

The centrepiece of the project is a two-wave face-to-face panel survey to study identity, public opinion, and political behaviour in Ukraine. Once the pandemic situation allows, the project aims to re-interview the same individuals over a 6- to 12-month period in order to trace continuity and change in societal perceptions, behaviour and preferences. During the pandemic, the project has been supplemented by adding a series of questions and survey experiments to the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) omnibus telephone survey in April and September 2020.

Key questions

  • How persistent and salient is ethnonational identity over time in a country as diverse as Ukraine?
  • What impact does the Covid-19 pandemic have on identities and on political and health behaviour?
  • Under what conditions do local and national-level political developments and societal preferences diverge? 


Einstein Professor for the Comparative Study of Democracy and Authoritarianism at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin