Between state of exception and everyday banality: Precarious borders in the post-Soviet space

Tatiana Zhurzhenko (Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Vienna)

Vortrag (in englischer Sprache)

After almost three decades since the dissolution of the USSR, the post-Soviet borders are legitimized by bilateral treaties, in many cases demarcated on the territory and anchored in the ‘geographic imagination’ of the local populations. But the de-facto borders of quasi-states and break-away territories have also been surprisingly persistent. Moreover, in 2014 we were witnesses of a geopolitical earthquake that produced new dividing lines with an ambivalent legal and political status as well as obscure and ever-changing rules of crossing. How should academic scholarship and the expert community approach these new challenges?

In her talk, Tatiana Zhurzhenko will start with a brief overview of post-Soviet Border Studies as a new area of multidisciplinary research, which has emerged after 1991. She will draw on her decade-long research of the Ukrainian-Russian border as well as some other examples from the region. Seen ‘from below’, as a reality constructed through the rules and routines of control, on the one hand, and everyday practices of crossing, on the other, the precarious post-Soviet borders offer a laboratory for studying structural inequality, nostalgia and contested loyalties. Finally, some political and ethical issues will be addressed that researchers working in the post-Soviet borderlands have been facing, in particular after 2014.


Tatiana Zhurzhenko ist Gastprofessorin an der Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaften der Universität Wien. Sie erforscht Transformationsprozesse in Osteuropa, insbesondere Ukraine und Russland, mit den Schwerpunkten Nations- und Staatsbildung, Identitäts- und Erinnerungspolitik, Genderforschung sowie Grenzforschung und Regionale Studien.