UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Cinematic Depopulation as a Variety of Cultural Imperialism

16 May 2022, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

A photo of Yuri Shevchuk

A SSEES Russian Cinema Research Group seminar with Yuri Shevchuk

This event is free.

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This paper discusses cinematic depopulation, the strategy of appropriation of the colonized by the colonizer widely used in the Soviet and post-Soviet cinema made in Ukraine and Russia and, until now, never analysed in academic literature. The cinematic depopulation is a particular mode of filmic representation whereby a given ethnoscape (Ukraine) is cleansed of the national community (Ukrainians) that has always considered it its ancestral homeland and instead is populated by the colonizer (Russian characters) as if it were an integral part of his historical territory. As a form of Russian cultural imperialism, this strategy continues to be widely used in both Ukrainian and Russian film production today to promote the idea of Ukraine that is conceivable outside of and without the Ukrainian language, culture, and other traditional attributes of Ukrainian national identity.

About the speaker

Yuri Shevchuk is Lecturer of Ukrainian at Columbia University. He holds a PhD in Germanic Philology from Kyiv State University and an MA in Political Science from the New School for Social Research. From 1990 to 2012 he taught Ukrainian at Harvard University Summer School. He teaches courses in Ukrainian, Soviet and post-Soviet Film as well as Slavic Cultures.

He has written and lectured on issues of Ukrainian language, identity, culture, and cinema. He authored Beginner's Ukrainian with Interactive Online Workbook (Hippocrene Books, 2011), a popular textbook for university students and self-learners worldwide. His latest book The Ukrainian-English Collocation Dictionary (Hippocrene Books: New York, 2021), has no precedents in Slavic or English lexicography.

In 2004, Shevchuk founded the Ukrainian Film Club of Columbia University, the only permanent forum for Ukrainian film in North America and he has promoted Ukrainian film both in North America and Western Europe.