Fighting for Europe: Ukrainians’ & Belarusians’ Changing Vision of the EU & Their Place in it w/ Olga Onuch

25 Oct 2023 – 17:30 - 19:00 BST
Centre of European Law, King's College London
The Great Hall
Ground Floor
King's Building
King's College London
London WC2R 2LS

The Centre of European Law is delighted to host the JCMS Annual Lecture 2023, which will be delivered this year by Professor Olga Onuch (University of Manchester).

Fighting for Europe: Ukrainians’ & Belarusians’ Changing Vision of the EU & Their Place in it.

After the lecture a drinks reception will follow and we would love to see you there.

As ordinary Ukrainians and their politicians declare: “we are fighting for Europe!” we again ask: Why do ordinary citizens want to join the EU? And why are Ukrainians and Belarusians ready to die to be let in? Whilst past scholarship highlighted value-based dispositions as key drivers of EU accession support, socio-economic push (deprivation at home) and pull factors (material improvement in the Union) came to dominate. Employing original data, this lecture will argue that as a discipline we overestimated materialist factors and underestimated the strength of normative political values as pull factors. In accepting this, we will fully understand why Ukrainians believe they are fighting not only for their future in Europe but for the future of Europe.

About the book

A compelling story of how ordinary Ukrainians saved their nation.

With Russian shells raining on Kyiv and tanks closing in, American forces prepared to evacuate Ukraine’s leader. Just three years earlier, his apparent main qualification had been playing a president on TV. But Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly retorted, ‘I need ammunition, not a ride.’ Ukrainian forces won the battle for Kyiv, ensuring their country’s independence even as a longer war began for the southeast.

You cannot understand the historic events of 2022 without understanding Zelensky. But the Zelensky effect is less about the man himself than about the civic nation he embodies: what makes Zelensky most extraordinary in war is his very ordinariness as a Ukrainian.

The Zelensky Effect explains this paradox, exploring Ukraine’s national history to show how its now-iconic president reflects the hopes and frustrations of the country’s first ‘independence generation’. Interweaving social and political background with compelling episodes from Zelensky’s life and career, this is the story of Ukraine told through the journey of one man who has come to symbolise his country.

About the speaker

Olga Onuch (DPhil, Oxford), is a Professor in Comparative and Ukrainian Politics at the University of Manchester and was until recently an Associate Fellow in Politics at Nuffield College, at the University of Oxford (2014-2020). Onuch’s comparative study of protest, elections, migration, and identity in Eastern Europe and Latin America has made her a leading expert in Ukrainian and Argentine politics specifically, but also in East European Comparative Politics and inter-regional comparative analysis. A major theme of Professor Onuch’s most recently published book, The Zelensky Effect (OUP/Hurst, 2022, with H. Hale), is how ordinary citizens come to develop a sense of civic duty, fostering a civic-centered state attachment as opposed to an ethnonational one. She is part of the multi-country #DataForUkraine team, which provides data on civilian resistance and human rights abuses.


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