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Ursula Woolley


Ursula Woolley is an MPhil/PhD candidate researching post-Maidan regional historical politics and historical identity discourses in Ukraine at UCL SSEES in London, supervised by Andrew Wilson. She previously worked for the British Council, including in Kyiv and Moscow.  From 2006-2012, she was elected to various positions in local government in London. Between 2012-2016 she was Executive Director of Pushkin House in London.  Since 2017 she has been a Trustee of the Ukrainian Institute in London (affiliated to UCU in L’viv).



Discourses of Public History and Historical Politics (2012-2019)


The proposed paper considers the construction of local and national historical narratives associated with the identity of the city of Dnipro from 2012 to 2019.  It explores the re-narration of ‘entangled’ local history in Dnipro as a societal and political means of exploring approaches to the assertion and delimitation of difference. It examines the different historical and identity discourses recurring in four interacting types of primary sources: in locally-based popular history-writing; in locally-informed academic historiography; in the discourse of local political elites; and in the material superimposed on this local discourse by national content providers.  It analyses the discourse of elite cultural and political actors to investigate the composition of ‘securitised’ discourses of local historical identity in Dnipro and the collective construction of ‘allowable’ nuances of identity in circumstances of war.  The historical tropes, narratives and approaches in the primary sources indicate the ‘securitisation’ of a complex, amalgamated ‘Dnipro identity’, responding to the ‘Russkiy Mir’ securitisation of identity constructed by the Russian government and influencing perception of the war in the Donbas nearby. Constantly evolving perceptions in Ukraine of what constitutes a ‘secure societal identity’ in the context of the war in the Donbas lead to a spectrum of differing, though not necessarily mutually exclusive, positions in debates on historical identity instrumentalised in public and political narrative and Dnipro is a site which allows for one investigation of this.

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