The Influence of War and Displacement on Political Identities in Ukraine

Project coordination: Prof. Dr. Gwendolyn Sasse

Kristina in Luganke just after the shelling, no.1, 2016 © Mark Neville.

Wars mark political and social turning points whose dynamics may lead to far-reaching social and political changes. In the social sciences the causes of wars have been given considerably more attention than their effects. While prominent hypotheses have been put forward on the polarizing effects and the loss of trust resulting from wars, on the whole the empirical data relating to these questions is sparse. This is the starting point of this project, which is based on a series of surveys in the context of the war in Ukraine and aims to study its effects on those directly affected. The project focuses on the Donbas region and on the people fleeing the war zone either inside Ukraine or to Russia. In this way, it generates data on regions and people that are currently overlooked in most surveys and discussions despite their significance for society and politics in Ukraine, and for external actors who support the reform processes and peace negotiations. According to official estimates the number of people displaced from the Donbas (internally displaced persons and those who fled to Russia) is between approximately 2.5 and 2.8 million. The survey carried out by ZOiS in 2016 is one of the few attempts to date to compile a demographic and political profile of the displaced. Moreover, additional surveys (2016 and 2019) represent a first attempt in the Donbas, including the territories not currently controlled by Kyiv, to analyse the day-to-day lives of the population, its political attitudes and identities. Contrary to the prominent assumption of polarization through war, the research highlights the still strong or stronger presence of mixed ethnic and bilingual identities, as well as the limited appeal of separatist ideas.

Displaced Ukrainians

Displaced Ukrainians is a collaboration between artist Mark Neville and the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS), Berlin. The project gives the displaced a voice. more...