War in Ukraine and Exile

A review by Pierre Maunaury-Lecerf, intern at CEFRES

A conference organized by Ronan Hervouet, Ekaterina Pierson-Lyzhina, Tatyana Shukan within the research project BIELEXIL.

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army provoked an unprecedented exodus of millions of Ukrainians, as well as more limited migration flows from Russia and Belarus. Whereas none of these are entirely new phenomena, the conflict is much intensifying already existing flows. On May 24th and 25th, the CEFRES hosted a scientific workshop dedicated to the study of exile in this new context. Coming from various research projects, academic backgrounds and research fields, participants aimed at connecting their first fieldworks, results and hypotheses after one year of research following February 24th 2022.

                Exploring the experiences of exiles from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus now living in various countries of eastern, central and western Europe, the contributions stressed several transversal and transnational objects of analysis: “Exile Politics”, “Legacies of the Past”, “Solidarities”, Trajectories of Academics” and “Living the Exile”. Participants provided analyses from various disciplinary perspectives: sociologists, political scientists, geographers, historians, anthropologists, ethnologists, specialists of demographic or Russian studies. Their contributions focused on various actors and phenomena: exiles themselves, associations, specific sociological groups, oppositions in exile, historical diplomatic and cultural relations between national groups, etc. These presentations brought to light three main transversal research prospects.

                The first one raises the question of changes provoked by the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in already existing research subjects. For instance, Hervé Amiot’s (Université Bordeaux Montaigne) contribution stressed the transformations triggered by the unprecedented displacements of Ukrainians that affected their previously existing diaspora in France. Magdalena Lesinska (University of Warsaw), Marta Jaroszewicz (University of Warsaw) and Kseniya Homel (University of Warsaw) enquired into the same question among the Belarusian political diaspora after 24.02.2022. It also appeared that the war led researchers to address new research subjects, which came to light in this very specific context. This is the case of the research conducted by Françoise Daucé (EHESS) and Anne Le Huérou (Université de Nanterre) on Ukrainian refugees who had to cross the Russian territories after the invasion of Ukraine’s eastern regions.

                Furthermore, these very different studies led to question the homogeneity of the nationality-based groups of exiles. Many of the contributions focused on specific groups, either inside these nationality-based identification (as for instance Ukrainian academics) or overlapping with several of these groups (as for instance the anarchist-punk subculture).

                Finally, the conference brought to light that the invasion of Ukraine changed the way many exiles of various national origins related to their home countries, to other countries, or to their own situation as exiles. According to Andrey Makarychev’s (University of Tartu) ongoing investigation, the stance of the Russian diaspora in Estonia against Putin’s regime is not a definitive position but a process, where its members learn how to integrate Russian domestic agenda into a broader European context. This process of defining their position, their responsibilities and their ways of action is deeply rooted in and affected by the war. Tatyana Shukan (Université libre de Bruxelles/CEFRES) gave another example of this phenomenon. She showed that, whereas many Belarusian exiles were still “denying” their exile situation before the war, hoping to go back home in a near future, the invasion of Ukraine compelled them to reconsider their own situation and realize that this exile might be more final than expected.

                Before concluding, a few points must be highlighted. First of all, the fact that participants, explicitly or not, brought up many fruitful interrogations on their methods of research. Many studies, then, were based on online social media analyses, reflecting the means of communication used by many exiles, associations and political organizations in this war context. Finally, a contribution presented the Géo-Récits online platform, stressing the possibilities provided by digital tools in these research areas.

                Though presenting the partial results of ongoing scientific investigations, this two days’ workshop eventually proved not only the relevance, but also the real need to (re)think these different exile experiences as connected and interrelated phenomena.

See the complete program of the conference here.

OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Claire Madl (13 juin 2023). War in Ukraine and Exile. Forum Recherche du CEFRES. Consulté le 20 juillet 2024 à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/mi9t