Accepted Paper:

Staying up to date: redefining cultural identity through digital media during the Ukrainian political crisis  


Irene Broer (Hamburg University, Germany)

Paper short abstract:

The study analyzes how young Ukrainian migrants used new media to redefine their cultural identities during the Ukrainian crisis (2013-2014). Digital media were employed to share cultural imaginaries, forge diasporic networks, overcome distance to the homeland and participate in politics from afar.

Paper long abstract:

This study analyzes how young Ukrainians living in Western Europe used new media to express their cultural identities in the context of the Ukrainian political crisis of 2013-2014. It is based on in-depth interviews focusing on the participants' lived experiences with media appropriation and cultural belonging in a time of turmoil in the homeland. The study demonstrates that the Ukrainian crisis instigated a pivotal period in which the participants experienced a heightened sense of belonging to the homeland and others in the diaspora.

Digital media stood central to the construction and expression of this intensification. Firstly, digital media offered the possibility to stay continuously updated on the events in Ukraine, hereby invoking a sense of closeness to the homeland. Secondly, social media networks enabled the sharing of political opinions and cultural narratives regardless of territorial boundaries, giving way to the strengthening of diasporic ties through digital means. Thirdly, the participants used digital media for direct political action directed both at the homeland and host societies, for example, by mobilizing people for demonstrations and fundraisers.

Overall, the study illustrates how migrants utilize digital media for cultural and political participation in times of homeland upheaval. They are actively employed in forging diasporic networks of belonging, overcoming geographical distance to the homeland and the participation in homeland politics from afar.

Panel Mig007
Migration and transition: utopian imaginaries on the move