The Nation’s Brightest and Noblest : Narrative Identity and Empowering Accounts of theUkrainian Intelligentsia in Post-1991 L’viv
Abstract: This study brings into focus the issue of reproduction and transformation ofcultural authority in the so-called post-Soviet context. It seeks to examine howintelligentsia may be presented and what empowering narratives it may articulatein a concrete locality, namely, in the post-1991 West Ukrainian city of L’viv. Theauthor argues that claims for cultural authority stemming from the socio-culturallocation of intelligentsia are decisive in discussions about Ukrainian nationalidentity and cultural development, which gained momentum after independence.Despite significant discursive transformations, after 1991 intelligentsia is stillpresented as the essence of the nation, as its typical and brightest representativeswho assume the right to speak for the whole nation and to extrapolate own valuesand choices to it.The debate focused on the issues of ‘the national’ actualizes a very significantissue of whose class vision is to become a winning concept for the Ukrainiannation-building. Post-Soviet ‘normalization’ in L’viv implies that cultural patternstypical of the privileged and educated urbanites have been rehabilitated andpresented as both nationally authentic and culturally superior ones. In the post-1991 L’viv the representations embedding the urban community into variouslocal, regional, national, and supranational symbolic contexts resonate with effortsof the intelligentsia to (re-)gain control over reproduction of their own socialpositions and cultural narratives about the nation. This study suggests that analysisof the nation-building processes in Ukraine should pay more attention to symbolicrepresentations of cultural authority which are exploited by local actors runningtheir empowering projects.
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