Performing Citizenship in Post-1991 Ukraine: Between ‘Street Politics’ and ‘Audience Democracy’

The talk exposes the political dynamic in post-1991 Ukraine through the concept of “performative citizenship” (Isin 2017) that presumes a political struggle claiming for rights rather than a pre-existing institutional design providing them. Different regimes of citizenship (citizen-governor, citizen-being-governed, citizen-voter, citizen-spectator, etc.) are analyzed through symbolic imaginaries enacting and underpinning them. The concept of citizenry herewith conflates with the concept(s) of nation at the intersection of top-down and bottom-up streams. The elusive, even if craved for, unity is challenged by the tension between an active minority seeking political participation and a ‘passive’ majority preferring “direct representation” (Urbinati 2021) by the leader. A special emphasis is placed on the Ukrainian version of reflexive technopopulism (Kioupkiolis & Perez 2018; Bickerton&Accetti 2021) of Zelensky’s team and the challenges it poses to fragile citizenship.

Dr. Valeria Korablyova is Senior Research Fellow at Charles University, Department of East European Studies. She received her habilitation (D. sc.) in 2015 from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, where she worked as Professor of Philosophy. Her research interests include post-Communist transformations in Ukraine and East Central Europe with a specific focus on mass protests and nation-building. She has held a number of fellowships in international institutions: at Stanford University (2014-15), the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna (IWM, 2015-16), University of Basel (2018), Justus Liebig University Giessen (2019-20), and others. Dr. Korablyova presented her research findings widely in publications and presentations on various public fora. She taught courses “Untimely nation: Ukraine in East Central Europe” (U of Basel), “Ukraine after 1991: challenges of transition” (Charles U), “Reverberations of modernity: the case of Ukraine” (JLU Giessen). Her recent publications dwell on political spectatorship and the rise of ocular democracy in Ukraine and beyond.