Negotiating citizenship on the margins of the Ukrainian state

Researcher: Dr. Oleksandra Tarkhanova, Postdoctoral fellow, Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

Project funded by the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship

Waiting to cross at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP. Credit:

The ‘contact’ line between the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics’ and the rest of Ukraine is a de-facto border that is not only politically reinstated, enforced at the military border control checkpoints, but also put in practice by state officials at institutions providing administrative and social services. The ‘border’ hinders people’s access to social assistance, pension, healthcare, and education, and people residing on both sides of the ‘contact’ line are Ukrainian citizens. The result is a peculiar citizenship/border regime, where the Ukrainian state and the proclaimed ‘republics’ control the (im)mobility of IDPs by closely monitoring cross-border practices and, as a result, regulating people’s access to citizenship rights. This research project investigates how the social rights of IDPs and residents of temporally occupied territories are legally regulated and constructed in political discourses, how people negotiate their access to social rights in their interactions with the state, and what strategies the state and the IDPs employ to make or deny claims.

Prof. Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi co-mentors the project together with Prof. Ulrich Schmid, University of St. Gallen.