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Freedom and Equality in the Political Thought of Ukraine and East Central Europe from the 18th Century to the Present

07.12.2023 – 08.12.2023 IOS, Room 319, Landshuter Str. 4, 93047 Regensburg Conferences

Conference of the German Association for Eastern European Studies (DGO) – History Section in Cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS) and the Herder Institute for Historical Research – Institute of the Leibniz Association.

Along political sovereignty, the concept of freedom has become a core argument in current political debates on Ukraine. Its use in Ukraine has been particularly widespread since the attainment of state independence in 1991, and in a number of Ukrainian cities, such as Kiev or Kharkiv, central squares were renamed “Freedom Square”. Freedom became central in the ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004–2005 and the ‘Revolution of Dignity’ in 2013–2014 (Euromaidan). Most emblematically, references to the Ukrainian national poet Taras G. Shevchenko indicate that ‘freedom’ played a crucial role in Ukrainian national thought continuously from the 19th to the early 20th centuries and in the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921.

The use of the idea shows the European roots of modern Ukrainian political thought. It is multifaceted, with both individual and collective (e.g. national) social dimensions; it may assume political meanings (citizenship rights), but also economic or social significance. During the European Revolutions from the 1830s until the 1860s, East-Central European national movements for political independence turned into military fights against the monarchies that oppressed them. This period marked not only a transnational entanglement of revolutionary ideas, biographies and networks of European scale, but also acquired a transatlantic dimension through the involvement of North-American supporters of their cause. The echo of the 19th century tradition resonated in Ukraine and the broader East-Central European region in many claims for freedom in the 20th and 21st century, in various, and even conflicting, political, social and cultural contexts.

Historians and social scientists of Eastern Europe in Germany have rarely addressed this topic in the past decades. The conference offers opportunities to discuss freedom as a political concept in the Ukrainian tradition in the larger European and transatlantic context and in relation to other fundamental / classical ideas, such as equality.

Registration until 6 December: hirev-hi@herder-institut.de

(Social media image: Christiaan Triebert from Groningen, Netherlands, The Netherlands, Euromaidan (12463820243), CC BY 2.0)

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