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Repossession: Notes on Restoration and Redemption in Ukrainian-Polish Borderlands

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/05/2008
JournalCultural Anthropology
Journal number2
Volume23
Number of pages32
Pages329-360
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This essay is an ethnographic account of the use of post-Soviet military ruins in western Ukraine. I describe an encounter with the founder of a commune for persons released from prison, victims of human trafficking, and asylum seekers established in a former nuclear base in Ukraine's western borderland. The commune is an unusual restoration project that is carried out in the interstices of the postsocialist state and of the changing European border regime. As such, it is a compelling site for rethinking dispossession and the possibility of redemption some 15 years after the USSR ceased to exist. The protagonist of this account redeems ruins left behind by the collapse of an empire he was glad to see go, and reproduces precisely that which has been lost in the process of the unmaking of Soviet life, that is the all-embracing domain of collective work and life.