East-West dichotomy in the context of Ukrainian conflict resolution
This article analyses the contrasting images of the West and the East in the conflict narrative in Ukraine: Where is the imaginary line that divides them? Which countries constitute the ‘East’ and which the ‘West’? and How does the Russia-Ukraine conflict affect the perceived division? This article is informed by Edward Said’s hypothesis of orientalism, specifically that Western knowledge of the Eastern world(s) carries a negative connotation. Testing this hypothesis on the materials of elite interviews conducted in Ukraine in 2017, the article ‘maps’ the image of the world from a Ukrainian point of view. It explores if an internalized ‘othering’ may be present within Ukraine’s borders due to the ongoing conflict in the East. The findings, however, disprove this assumption. Results show that there is a perceived sense of closeness between Ukraine and Eastern European countries due to historical and cultural ties as well as modern day partnership. Relations with Russia were perceived as ambiguous despite the armed conflict in the East and the annexation of Crimea. There is also no evidence for “othering of Eastern vis-à-vis Western regions inside Ukraine.
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