Między postulowana inwersja a pożądaną rewizją. Wokół postkolonialnych akcentów w wybranych pracach Mykoły Riabczuka
Between Postulated Inversion and Desired Revision. Focus on Postcolonial Emphasis in Selected Theses of Mykola Riabchuk
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This article is a critical analysis of selected theses by the Ukrainian commentator, translator and literary critic Mykola Riabchuk, who is regarded as a pioneer of post-colonial studies in his home country and whose works have gained considerable popularity in Poland. The first part of this article focuses on the theoretical aspects of post-colonial narrative as a tool to analyze social phenomena in the contemporary humanities. Subsequent sections present the controversy concerning the problem of the post-colonial status of the Central-Eastern European countries, particularly Ukraine. As the author points out, no academic consensus has been reached until now on the perceived construction of Soviet Union as imperialistic and colonial-driven, which furthermore might be the underlying cause limiting the explanatory power of postcolonial categories in this part of the globe. The core part of the article focuses on the confrontation between two concepts – Ukrainian history and its contemporary social problems as seen by Riabchuk on one hand, and the main assumptions of the post-colonial studies on the other. Mykola Riabchuk aims to emphasize the fact that the Ukraine should be perceived as an oppressed victim, on which the negative stereotype was imposed by the colonizer. Riabchuk considers lengthy sovietisation during which Ukrainian culture was substantially destructed as a basis for the relatively limited national discourse on the subject. He perceives weakness and low popularity of the Ukrainian language in the eastern and southern regions of the country as an effect of the denationalization of the proto-Ukrainian substrate which is the result of the russification (although run under the Soviet banner). As post-colonial theorists seem to be in agreement in deeming colonial heritage non-disposable, as well as recognizing the open-ended relation between the colonizer and the colonized, and awareness of being of a hybrid nature, Riabchuk tends to lapse into cultural essentialism. As per the final conclusion of the article, despite the fact that re-reading Ukrainian history from the postcolonial perspective may be promising, it is debatable as to whether Riabchuk’s writing is properly inscribed into the postulated paradigm.
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