From “limited sovereignty” to decolonization in Ukraine

Monica Eppinger


This article takes up the loaded topic of “Russia in the world of Ukraine.” Now an object of official Russia’s aggressive attention, contemporary Ukraine presents a pressing case for reconsidering colonialism which, I propose, requires reconceptualizing sovereignty. I compare descriptions of sovereignty resting on two different genealogies, “limited sovereignty” as described by Russian expert Igor Gretskiy and “creative sovereignty” from Ukrainian scholar Oleksandr Merezhko, and bring them into conversation with Ukrainian Semyon Gluzman’s argument that thinking about colonialism in Ukraine implicates temporality, reflexivity, and subjectivity. Beyond “center” and “periphery,” beyond mapping control, suffering, production, and exploitation onto topographies of sovereign power and rural subjectivity, can we imagine sovereignty beyond territoriality? Can we decolonize the present from the past? The essay concludes with a suggestion to expand consideration of colonialism from a spatial to a temporal frame, the lexicon of colonialism beyond spatial deictics, and the project of decolonization to ourselves.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/724016