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Refugees and internally displaced people from Ukraine’s war-torn territories: confronting the politics of belonging and everyday experiences

Irina Kuznetsova will give a talk at The Global Politics, Economy and Society Seminar Series,  Oxford Brookes University, Gibbs Building Room G217, October 9, 2017  4:15 pm – 5:30 pm


The current crisis in Ukraine is near the top of the international policy agenda. The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine was followed by the creation of ‘quasi states’, significant declines in living conditions and the large-scale displacement of people. More than two million people had to flee, 1.7 million internally, which, according to the Internally Displaced Monitoring, is the 8th largest internally displaced group in the world. Many experienced a rapid and significant drop in income and face problems in accessing services such as health care and education. More than 1.3 million people became refugees, with over a million fled to Russia, and most of them are unable to return. The research upon which this paper is based was conducted in Ukraine and Russia and included interviews with displaced people, local and national authorities, NGOs and discourse analyses. The intersectional approach is used to identify the structural position of IDPs and refugees and the discourses, practices and narratives that surround them. Understanding belonging as both as a personal and a discursive resource (Antonsich 2010), and the politics of belonging as involving both the maintenance and reproduction of the boundaries and contestation of them (Yuval-Davis 2011), I address the complexity of the current position of IDPs and refugees. The paper argues that there are conflicting politics of belonging in Ukraine and in Russia which influence the policies towards refugees and IDPs from a particular discourse around ethnicities, boarders and geopolitics. The everyday experiences of those who were displaced include coping with imposed statuses along with multiple loss and uncertainty of legal status is also explored.

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