In Our Country, but Outside Our Homeland: Identity and Diaspora Among Ukraine’s Internally Displaced Crimeans
Charron, Austin L
University of Kansas
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In response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, tens of thousands of Crimean residents have relocated to mainland Ukraine as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), including many ethnic Ukrainians, Russians, and indigenous Crimean Tatars. Deliberately choosing to remain Ukrainian rather than Russian citizens, Crimean IDPs have become emblematic of new discourses of Ukrainian civic and multicultural nationalism emerging in the wake of the 2013-2014 Euromaidan protests. While they are proud Ukrainian patriots, most Crimean IDPs also maintain a strong sense of regional identity tied to Crimea itself, and therefore understand themselves to be simultaneous “in place” and “out of place” within the Ukrainian mainland. This disjunctive sense of territorial belonging bears most of the hallmarks of a diasporic condition, except for the presumption of international migration that undergirds normative “transnational” theories of diaspora. Showcasing Crimean IDPs as a salient case study, this dissertation advances an alternative “translocal” theory of diaspora that is attentive to discourses of belonging and exclusion whether or not migrants have crossed an international border. Relying on ethnographic fieldwork conducted within Crimean IDP communities in the cities of Kyiv and Lviv, this dissertation traces the motivating factors driving internal displacement from occupied Crimea, unpacks the Ukrainian and Crimean identities that dialectically animate IDPs’ schismatic senses of territorial belonging, and analytically situates their varied experiences within a diasporic framework, disrupting the problematic epistemological binary of internal/international migration that hampers theories of diaspora.
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