Studying Identity in Ukraine

  • Citation: Onuch, Olga, Henry E. Hale, and Gwendolyn Sasse. “Studying Identity in Ukraine.” Post-Soviet Affairs 34, no. 2-3 (2018): 79–83.
    • Topics:
    • Country and Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • Ukraine
    • identity
    • politics
    • generalizability
    • identity politics
    • vulnerable populations
    • minorities

While it is common wisdom that “identity matters” in Ukrainian politics, we still lack a robust understanding of precisely when and how it matters. Reflecting challenges facing the broader interdisciplinary field of comparative identity politics, authors frequently bring to their analyses very different notions of the nature of identity itself, skipping a rigorous examination of these notions in an effort to get right to documenting the effects of identity. Similarly, identity is frequently operationalized in quantitative studies without much discussion of the implications of selecting one particular measure over another or of what precisely each measure is reflecting, not to mention what might have changed over time. While we do have nuanced research on Ukrainian identity, it tends not to address the evolution of identity over time or the moments and conditions of identity change. Such issues are particularly important for current research since identities and their associated meanings may shift or “harden” during severe crises or conflicts like those that unfolded in Ukraine during 2013–14.