Year XV, Issue 11–12 (169–170)

December 2011
Oleksandr Bojchenko. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Volodymyr Dibrova. The Deceptive Pleasure of Non-Conformism
Simon Leys. He Told the Truth About China’s Tyranny
Michael Weiss. Vaclav Havel: Rock ’n’ Roll and the Power of the Powerless
Yevhen Zakharov. Another Year of Illegality
Oleksandr Bogomolov, Oleksandr Lytvynenko. Ghost in the Mirror: Russian Soft Power in Ukraine
Kerstin S. Jobst. Ukrainian Trauma Memory: Holodomor and Chernobyl
Volodymyr Kulyk. World Wide Web and National Identity
Linguistic Sexism. Olena Synchak


The November–December, 2011 issue of Krytyka opens with “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Oleksandr Bojchenko, a Ukrainian literary critic and essayist. The piece is based on a public lecture Bojchenko had delivered for the Kyiv-based School of Public Governance on the way intellectuals deal with those in power – from Socrates and Plato to 20th century totalitarianism, and with a special focus on how Ukrainian intellectuals collaborate (or not) with Yanukovych’s regime.

Volodymyr Dibrova, a Ukrainian writer and preceptor in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, addressed a similar question a few months earlier at a New York conference on non-conformism and dissent in the Soviet period in his “The Deceptive Pleasure of Non-Conformism.” The prominent dissident of our days, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, is the hero of The New York Review of Books piece “He Told the Truth About China’s Tyranny” by Simon Leys. Reviewing “No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems,” by Liu Xiaobo, Leys outlines Liu’s drama and its grim context – the severe challenges faced by several generations of Chinese intellectuals. Michael Weiss writes on one of the world’s best known dissidents and the former Czech president in “Vaclav Havel: Rock ’n’ Roll and the Power of the Powerless.”

In Ukraine, freedom and human rights have recently been challenged more seriously than before. Yevhen Zakharov of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group demonstrates this in his “Another Year of Illegality.”

Oleksandr Bogomolov, president of the Kyiv-based Center for Middle East Studies, and Oleksandr Lytvynenko, expert at the Council for Foreign and Security Policy (Kyiv), use the soft power perspective to reveal the cognitive frames embedded both in Russian and Ukrainian political discourse in their “Ghost in the Mirror: Russian Soft Power in Ukraine.”

Dr. Kerstin S. Jobst of Hamburg University focuses on two key aspects of Ukrainian collective memory in her “Ukrainian Trauma Memory: Holodomor and Chernobyl” – especially on how they had been supressed, articulated, interpreted, discussed and perceived in different contexts.

In the “World Wide Web and National Identity”, a leading expert in Ukrainian media discourses, Volodymyr Kulyk, explores how the Internet and media shape the national identity of Ukrainians, by examining the everyday practices, habits and instruments of Ukrainian Internet-users. 

In her “Linguistic Sexism” Olena Synchak exposes the sexist traps of everyday words (and particularly “the neutral man” myth). She also rediscovers the hidden treasures of so called “feminitives” in Slavic languages, and, for good measure, the pliability of Ukrainian.

Krzysztof Czyїewski, the founder and director of the Borderland Foundation in Sejny (Poland), summarizes the notion of being Central European, by taking a closer look at this concept and its evolution, and by examining his own experiences and reflections. The borderland ethos as the way to “practice Central Europe”, is the focus of his essay “Reinventing Central Europe”.

The same issue, but with a different term (“Middle” instead of “Central”) is the subject of “Is a Middle European Possible, and Why We Need Him/Her” by the Ukrainian Germanist and translator Jurko Prokhasko. The choice of words reflects his perspective. One more Central Europe, one more Europe, and one more way to live up to it, are presented by the Belarusian poet and philosopher Igar Babkou in his “Letter to Miіosz on Poetry, Absence and a Farewell to Europe.” The issue concludes with another memorial essay: in “A Man Who Exemplified Freedom” Bogumiіa Berdychowska remembers the outstanding Ukrainian йmigrй historian, journalist and political activist Bohdan Osadczuk (1920–2011).

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