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Accepted Paper:

Hope and future-making in a troubled borderland. A case of Ukrainian mono-towns.  
Justyna Szymanska (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

The paper outlines the phenomena of the future-oriented forms of local activism rooted in single-industry towns of the Ukrainian government-controlled territory of Donbas region and how the mixture of post-conflict reality intersected with civil society-strengthening projects of recent years.

Paper long abstract:

Prior to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine I have researched the actions of the future-oriented forms of activism in a context of single-industry towns in the Ukrainian government-controlled territory of Donbas region. I would like to show how the mixture of post-conflict reality and old stereotypes about the region intersect with civil society-strengthening projects that started to flourish after 2014 up to the 2022 full-scale war.

I intend to specifically highlight actions of young, local groups which future-oriented forms of activism aim to create the change in a challenging environment of monotowns, where they weave between two main actors: the state and town-forming enterprises. The influent external models of activism created new modes of engagement functioning on intersection of foregoing and alluvial models of 'being a citizen', new patterns of adjustment to political and social reality and re-gaining agency. In my consideration I turn to the meanings of counter-spaces understand as 'spaces occupied by the symbolic and the imaginary' (Lefebvre 1991) and the imaginary of better future building process where hope is seen as a driving force of activism and engagement as well as any actions in general (Appadurai 2013, Montoya 2015, Sliwinski 2016, Kleist and Jansen 2016). I believe this is especially a case of vulnerable places like post-conflict Donbas monotowns where Jeffrey C. Goldfarb's (2006, 2008) theory of politics of small things and James C. Scott's (1990) theory of infrapolitics seem to be more appropriate in describing this 'creeping change'.

Panel P108a
Transformation, hope and vigilance in borderlands I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -