ARCHIVES Danyliw Seminar 2018
University of Indiana Bloomington (US)
Tania Bulakh is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology and Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University Bloomington. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on internally displaced and conflict-affected people in Ukraine, in terms of state-citizenship negotiations, social welfare provision, and humanitarian responses. Previously, she earned her MA in Anthropology from Indiana University as a Fulbright Scholar, worked as a communication director for the Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, and co-developed an educational initiative for displaced children in Ukraine.
“Between Two Fires” - Experiences of Marginal Sovereignty in Conflict-Affected Areas of Eastern Ukraine
In 2014, clashes between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian state culminated in the proclamation of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. The areas surrounding the contact line, which divides government-controlled areas from the de-facto republics, became the conflict’s “gray zone,” with an active military presence and recurring shelling. Over 600,000 people live in these areas, unable to leave. In this “no-man’s land,” state power is contested, yet intense and tangible through the presence of military forces. The function of the state as a principal provider of security is exacerbated by its active involvement in the conflict. Given this paradox, how is sovereignty performed in conditions of protracted conflict? How does this fragmentation of sovereignty affect people who live on the lines of contestation? This paper explores how people understand their place in the state order, when their homes, belongings, and lives are in the lines of gunfire.