NORMEMO spring 2022 guest lecture: Mythmaking around the Figure of the Russian Volunteer Combatant in the Donbas (2014–present)

Julie Fedor (University of Melbourne): Mythmaking around the Figure of the Russian Volunteer Combatant in the Donbas (2014–present)

In Spring-Summer 2014, thousands of Russian citizens flowed across the border into Ukraine to take up arms in the war unfolding in the Donbas region. Their motivations, profiles and backgrounds were heterogeneous; but in the sympathetic media commentary, they were grouped together under the label “volunteers” (dobrovol’tsy), a heavily loaded term underlining both their lack of official connection to the Russian state and the righteous nature of their mission. These events sparked renewed attention to the history of Russian volunteering in foreign wars, a topic which has been taken up enthusiastically by various sets of actors who have perceived in this phenomenon opportunities to advance their own interests and ideological projects. In this lecture, Fedor explores a range of texts produced in 2014–15 depicting and discussing the figure of the volunteer fighter, placing these in the context of an ongoing quest for a new symbolic vocabulary to represent the changing and often ambiguous and complex shape of contemporary Russian warfare. She shows how the conveniently elastic trope of the volunteer and historical narratives of Russian exceptionalism based on this trope are used to frame and justify recent and current wars, providing both a camouflage for military intervention abroad, and evidence of grassroots popular support for aggressive Russian foreign policy.

Join Zoom Meeting


Monument to Russian Volunteers, Luhansk, erected February 2018 by the League for the Defence of the Interests of Veterans of Local Wars and Military Conflicts. Via maps.

Julie Fedor is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne. She has taught modern Russian history at the Universities of Birmingham, Cambridge, Melbourne and St Andrews. She is the author of Russia and the Cult of State Security: The Chekist Tradition from Lenin to Putin (Routledge 2011); co-author of Remembering Katyn (Polity 2012); co-editor of Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe (Palgrave Macmillan 2013); and contributing co-editor of Memory, Conflict and new Media: Web Wars in Post-Socialist States (Routledge 2013) and War and Memory in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (Palgrave Macmillan 2017).

Når: 18.03.22 kl 09.15–11.00
Hvor: Zoom / Aase Hiorth Lervik room, Breiviklia, UiT
Sted: Tromsø
Målgruppe: Studenter, Gjester / eksterne, Ansatte
Legg i kalender