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Problems with the West’s talk about Ukraine’s ‘decolonization’
In an article titled “Ukrainian Voices?” recently published in New Left Review, sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko warns that talk in the West about Ukraine’s “decolonization” often focuses too much on “symbols and identity” and not enough on “social transformation.” Representing the war in Ukraine “as an ideological conflict of democracy against autocracy” is intellectually inconsistent, he writes, and “works poorly” with audiences across the Global South. Dr. Ishchenko criticizes the identarian articulation of Ukraine’s decolonization, which he says reduces the agenda to “anti-Russian and anti-communist identity politics”; it’s an obstacle to “a universally relevant perspective on Ukraine.”
In the days since it was released, Dr. Ishchenko’s article has won praise and provoked fierce criticism from peers and pundits alike. This week, he joined The Naked Pravda to respond to some of that feedback and delve a bit deeper into the ideas he raised in the essay.
Timestamps for this episode:
- (4:40) The article’s academic origins
- (6:52) Has the “decolonization” agenda lost its way?
- (11:34) What’s an alternative form of decolonization in Ukraine?
- (15:35) What are the differences between Ukraine’s “privileged voices” with access to the West and the Ukrainians who remain largely unrepresented abroad?
- (23:00) Don’t call it an ideological conflict of democracy against autocracy?
- (29:52) Criticisms of Soviet nostalgia
Production, sound editing, and mixing by Kevin Rothrock
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