Between the "Self" and the "Other": Representations of Ukraine's Russian-speakers in Social Media Discourse

Volodymyr Kulyk


This paper analyzes the images of Ukraine’s Russian-speaking citizens as they appear in Ukrainian users’ posts on Facebook. Based on a systematic examination of the accounts of twelve prominent pro-Maidan personalities, my analysis pays attention to both the self-representations of those Ukrainians who primarily rely on the Russian language and to their representations by those individuals who locate themselves outside of this group. I argue that what usually appears in the self-representations as merely a facet of communicative practice is often perceived by others as a crucial element of social identity. While the self-representations do not undermine Russian-speakers’ identity as Ukrainians, the other-representations often do, thus questioning their belonging to the imagined national Self. Such opposing representations of Russian-speakers manifest different perceptions of the Ukrainian nation and the role of the Ukrainian language in this identity, and thus different ideologies of nationhood and language more generally.

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© 2014 East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

ISSN 2292-7956