Looking forward to: Navigating Displacement from and in Ukraine: unravelling complexities and crafting solutions

Apr 22, 2024 | IAS Major Project, Looking Forward to...., Projects, Transformations (Issue 12)

Navigating Displacement from and in Ukraine: unravelling complexities and crafting solutions
Dr Markian Prokopovych (Department of History) and Dr Kateryna Ivashchenko-Stadnik (CARA Fellow)

Amidst the ongoing Russian full-scale aggression in Ukraine, resulting in unprecedented humanitarian crises and the displacement of 3.9 million of refugees and further 3.5 million of internally displaced persons (IDPs)[1], the IAS is supporting a new ground-breaking research initiative to investigate the multifaceted challenges of displacement in present-day Ukraine and its host countries in the UK and EU. Part of the IAS Major Project led by Dr Markian Prokopovych at the History Department and Dr Chrysostomos Apostolidis at Durham Business School entitled ‘Looking Back to Move Forward: History, Recovery, and Sustainability in Understanding the War in Ukraine on a Global Scale’ the forthcoming international workshop ‘Understanding Displacement in Ukraine: Interdisciplinary Perspectives’ aims to address displacement from a multitude of perspectives.

The IAS project builds upon Durham University’s longstanding commitment to Ukrainian studies, which manifested itself in the twinning partnership with Zaporizhzhia National University (ZNU), the Ukrainian Talks led by Dr Prokopovych and a range of collaborative interdisciplinary activities that have taken place over the course of the last year within the UUKi-funded project ‘Multidisciplinary approaches to building research capacity and resilience through partnerships during conflict.’ Thanks to Durham University’s collaboration with CARA (the Council for At-Risk Academics) the IAS currently hosts Ukrainian fellows Dr Kateryna Ivashchenko-Stadnik and Dr Tetiana Vodotyka, who are involved in the project initiatives. Further Ukrainian participants are envisaged in the future. The research agenda encompasses a wide array of disciplines, ranging from history and sociology to economics and psychology, law and business management reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the challenges posed by the war. The project’s objectives are twofold: to analyse the historical, economic, socio-cultural, and health implications of the war in Ukraine, and to draw meaningful recommendations for managing major war-driven social and humanitarian issues and supporting post-conflict institutional and societal recovery and reform.

The forthcoming international workshop ‘Understanding Displacement in Ukraine: interdisciplinary perspectives’ (6 -7 June 2024, Durham University) aims to explore the role of institutions in addressing displacement, the use of oral histories to understand the experiences of displaced persons, and the impact of displacement on urban environments. It also seeks to examine the challenges and opportunities for businesses in volatile situations, the educational needs of displaced children and teenagers, and the significance of memory in memorializing displacement. By bringing together experts from Ukraine and the international community, the workshop aims to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration among scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to develop innovative solutions and strategies for supporting both the displaced population and institutions that deal with them. Through a comprehensive exploration of these themes, the workshop seeks to contribute to the development of evidence-based research and policy-oriented decision-making in the field of displacement studies.

The workshop also builds on Durham University’s expertise in the research on displacement, manifesting in the recent collaborative art exhibition ‘Visualising Conflict and Displacement,’ curated by Professor Olga Demetriou and colleagues at the Durham Global Security Institute (DGSI). Professor Demetriou is also one of the Co-Is of the IAS project. Through various mediums such as art, photojournalism, visual ethnography, and photovoice, this exhibition delved into the intricate dynamics of displacement and its profound effects on individuals and communities in Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, and Colombia. Ukraine represents yet another unique case of mass displacement that will require policy interventions and long-term strategies both from the host countries and from the country of origin.

As a long-term ambition, by leveraging the collective expertise of the international research community, the project aims to contribute to the development of evidence-based solutions and actionable strategies to promote resilience in war-affected and post-conflict societies. It builds on Durham University’s commitment to Transformative Humanities linking the humanities across fields with social sciences, business and studies of sustainability. Stay tuned for updates on this transformative research initiative from the IAS.

[1] As of March 2024, estimates are based on a recent study conducted by the Centre of Economic Strategy (Kyiv, Ukraine). Most of the post-2022 refugees are women and children.

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