Ukr. geogr. z. 2019, N1:59-68
Language of publication: 

Sabina von Löwis - Center for East European and International Studies (ZOiS), Berlin.


The article deals with the much debated socio-spatial and identical division of Ukraine between an imagined “pro-Russian” East and “pro-European” West. In the media, science and politics Ukraine often is divided in regions related to former imperial and/or nation state orders and historical regions. On a micro-perspective of two villages in Western Ukraine which represent different historical pasts it is analysed in how far the socio-spatial divisions and assigned identities hold up to arguments of historical determinism. The article suggests a more complex interpretation on the way inhabitants’ historical experiences and identity affiliations are tied. It rests on a case study conducted between 2012 and 2016 in Western Ukraine, during several research visits in Sokyrynci (Ternopil oblast) and Sokyrynci (Chmel’nyc’kyj oblast), two twin villages located on either sides of the Zbruč river and of this stable and a recurrent line of discontinuity in the electoral landscape for the past twenty-five years (see, for instance, the results of the 2004 presidential elections during the Orange Revolution). As part of the conceptual and theoretical framework of the article, it particularly focused on the way the imaginary about spaces, the narratives of history as well as the daily practices and experiences of the population are articulated. The article sheds light on what electoral results at the local level hide by clarifying inhabitants’ political or cultural affiliations, by identifying their potential “imperial emotions” or their supposed propensity to reproduce “civilizational borders” on the long term. While on the one hand material differences of symbols and monuments appear to be strikingly, the analysis of perceptions and significance of them for the population on the other hand reveals ambivalent spaces of experiences, identification and multilayered uses of the past in the two case studies.

Key words: 
space, cultural geography, Ukraine, socio-spatial identities, symbols
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