Media and Identity Construction. The Case of Contemporary Ukraine.
My research focuses on the construction of representations of political identities in the news media. The most relevant context that allows questioning the concept of collective identity is the context of politics, and therefore, the context of public space. It is in the public space that identity appears as symbolic dimension of a form and of a representation rather than of a cause, in the sense that can be the object of interpretation, diffusion or acquisition in the field of communication. Since its independence, proclaimed in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine began the process of constructing its state and nation accompanied by the emergence and construction of new political identities. The main identity markers (like belonging to a territory, speaking a language, practising a religion as well as a geopolitical orientation) present important divisions in the case of contemporary Ukraine. The first break in the identity formation was the independence proclamation of Ukraine in 1991, which brought Ukraine onto the international arena and transformed it into a political actor. The second rupture were the presidential elections of 2004, known as the ‘orange revolution’ which is considered a definitive break with the authoritarian past and a sign of democratisation and the progressive development of civil society. Currently, there are several identity discourses conveyed by different political and social groups in the Ukrainian public space. First, the nationalist discourse refers to a specific national culture legitimized by history. It aims to redress the discrimination suffered during the Soviet period. This discourse promotes the national language, values non-Soviet historical events and encourages integration into the EU. Secondly, there is the European discourse that considers the country’s future within the European Union and the NATO. Thirdly, the proRussian discourse emphasizes the historical and cultural ties between Ukraine and Russia. It favours a national history imbued with belonging to the Slavic civilisation and promotes the development of Russian culture, primarily through its linguistic component. Fourthly, there is the pro-Soviet discourse which is distinct from the pro-Russian as it focuses on the feeling of nostalgia for the Soviet Union. The fifth discourse is the regionalist discourse. And lastly there is the autonomist discourse that refers to the status of the Crimea and the conflicts between Russian and Tatar population of this peninsula. This study uses semiotics and discourse analysis to investigate the construction of the Ukrainian political identity, first, within the Ukrainian public space through the confrontation of political identities (political parties and political actors), and secondly in the international and intercultural public space through the confrontation between the Ukrainian political identity with other political identities, including the EU identity and the Russian identity.