Dr. Franziska Davies

Beyond ‚East and West‘: A history of strikes and labour movements in Poland, Great Britain and Ukraine in the 1980s and early 1990s

strikes and labour movements in Poland, Great Britain and Ukraine
image credits

Open Access

In Western academia, the historiography of the second half of the 20th century is still strongly characterized by an institutional logic that to a certain extent reproduces the dichotomy of the Cold War: Eastern and Western European history are often told either separately or in opposition to each other. My research project on protest movements and labor struggles in the 1980s and 1990s in Poland, Great Britain and (Soviet) Ukraine pursues both a comparative and an entanglement-historical approach and thus contributes to an integrated European historiography. By focusing on entanglements and comparative perspective both beyond the “iron curtain” and between Poland and Soviet Ukraine, it brings the era of perestroika into a broader European perspective. This not least a contribution to a de-exoticization of Ukrainian history.

The intensive debates on "decolonization" since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have once again highlighted a dilemma in the historiography of Ukraine: it often oscillates between the extremes of being told either as a peripheral history of a (Soviet) Russian empire or as a post-colonial history of national liberation against this empire. In a certain sense, the imperial framework defines the terms and categories of analysis for both perspectives. While the imperial and national framework, which has indeed decisively shaped Ukrainian history, must be taken into account, I aim to broaden this perspective by placing the history of labour disputes and strikes in (Soviet) Ukraine in the 1980s and early 1990s in a pan-European (communication) space and thus contributing to the demarginalization of Ukrainian history in European historiography.

Go back