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Cultural Diversities East and West: Postcommunism, Postcolonialism and Ethnicity

Central European University, 22 July-2 August 2002

Fellow profile



Residence Kyiv
Nationality Ukrainian, of Armenian and Russian descent 
Sex Female
Age 24
Zodiac sign Aries
Educational background M.A. in Gender Studies, Central European University, Budapest, 2001.

B.A. in Cultural Studies (Ukrainian Language & Literature), National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kyiv, Ukraine, 1999.

Present position Manager
Employer Gender Laboratory Kyiv
Interests & current research Postcolonial theory & its application on Eastern Europe

In Central European University (I graduated from it in 2001 from Program on Gender and Culture), I wrote my MA thesis on post-colonial theory: "Voicing the Subaltern in the fiction of Jamaica Kincaid ("Autobiography of My Mother") and Oksana Zabuzhko ("Field Research in Ukrianian Sex")". What was surprising for me - and actually led to such a topic - there was an amazing similarity in topics raised in both novels, one coming from the Caribbean and another written in Ukraine. Now I am writing an introductory article to a new edition of Zabuzhko's novel from the postcolonial perspective which proved to be very fruitful for reading of the "Field Research in Ukrainian Sex". But my main question is still, to an extent, unaswered. And it is whether it is specifically Ukrainian historical and cultural legacy that led to formation of purely colonial cultural mechanisms and colonial perception in the country - even though it was not conceptualized as such until recently (and mostly outside of Ukraine, too) - or is it a general outcome of soviet legacy, and then the whole Eastern Europe can be conceptualized from the postcolonial perspective.

At the same time, I clearly realize that any attempt to apply postcolonial theory to Eastern European context (and this is one of the reasons why it was so hard to discuss, say, Ireland as postcolonial country) would call for serious changes in the theory itself, which I can understand is a rather questionable and problematic issue in itself.

Other than postcolonialism, I am interested in postmodernistic literature. I have currently published (together with one of my former professors) an article on U. Eco's "The Name of the Rose" and now I am preparing a paper on Max Frisch's "Gantenbein" for a Congress of Germanists that will take place in July.

I am also interested in Eastern European women's writings and the ways their literary provocations disrupt existing literary canons and form specifically female literary space within the mainstream tradition.

Conferences, competitions... 2001, April  Nation-Making, Past and Present: Community, Economy, Security, paper delivered at teg Sixth Annual Convention of Association for the Studies of the Nationalities, Harriman Institute, Columbia University, NY, USA.

2000, Sept  Centre Right Politics in Europe, FDS Seminar, European Democratic Students, Fidelitas, Budapest, Hungary.

2000, April  Ukraine, Steps into the Future, International Conference organized by the Academy of Labor and Social Realtions of Ukraine, Kyiv.

1998, May  Kyiv, Ukraine  History of Religions in Ukraine, VIIth International Round Tabvle, Institute of eligious Studies and Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

Professional affiliation Member of the public organization 'Women in Science'
  • "Apocryphal Literature and its Influence on Ukrainian Sacred Art". The History of Religions in Ukraine, Lviv: Logos, 1998, 153-4 (in Ukrainian).
  • "Prose of Valerian Pidmohyl'nyi: Gender Aspect". Current Issues of Modern Philology, vol. VIII, Rivne: State University of Humanities, 2000, 1999-215.
  • "Folklore Models in Olga Kobylians'ka's Novel She Dug the Herbs Early in the Sunday Morning in Magisterium: Literary Studies, vol. IV, Kyiv: Stylos, 2000: 37-41 (in Ukrainian)
  • "Dusks in the Dream" [short story] Harvardskyi Apostrof, 2 (1998).
  • "Blood Roses", Undercurrents 2001 [short story, in English].
Excerpts from publications  
Case study for the summer course  
Statement of interest I should admit that my meeting with the postcolonial theory was purely accidental. When I came to study in Gender and Culture program in CEU I was planning to continue working with the topic of my B.A. thesis, which was dedicated to the images of women in the writings of Valerian Pidmohylnyj, a Ukrainian writer of the beginning of the 20th century. But when in one of the classes we discussed The Autobiography of my Mother by Jamaica Kincaid, I was surprised to see similarities between her novel and the novel Field Research on Ukrainian Sex by Oksana Zabuzhko, a contemporary Ukrainina writer and poet.
The research projects on postcolonialism and multiculturalism that we are carrying out at the newly founded Gender laboratory may be able to open up a space for a new vision of Ukrainian national development and for the revising of the socially accepted, traditional self-perception of Ukraine. [...] It is evitnet that when applying postcolonial theory to Eastern Europe, a number of its notions and ssumptions will have to be critically revised. For example, from my point of view, the issue of race will have to be interchanged with ethnicity, thus immediately raising the issue of rising nationalisms in the region, with their peculiar construction of the 'other', often based on religious difference. It seems to me that the course might be of invaluable help to me in this regard, providing me with fuller academic and research framework, at the same time giving me direct experience in discussing links between postcolonial images and stereotypes in different cultures, thus deepening my understanding of the processes that are taking place in my own society. [...] Ability to compare Ukrainian experience with that of the recognized postcolonial countries, such as Malta, and nations that are still struggling for their indentity, like those in the Caucasus, will aid me both to broaden my perception of the problem and tackle the problems that I might otherwise leave unnoticed.
Personal message I have been thinking a lot what to write about myself for it seems that there are too many and at that same time too few things that may of interest to other people.

Well, my name is Natalia Monakhova. I am a Russian-Armenian considering myself to be a Ukrainian, which is sometimes a rather problematic issue :))).

The main thing (should I say - a current center of my self-identification ;)) ), I guess, is that I am a director of a research NGO called "Kyiv Laboratory of Gender" (Kyiv, Ukraine). We are very new (we still did not receive our registration certificate from the state authorities), but we are already engaged in a number of projects. For example, right now, together with some state institutions, women NGOs, and British professors, we are organizing an international conference on gender and religion in Kyiv. We are also working on our web-site, which we should have more or less ready, and placed in internet, in a month or so.

Also, because of my interest in postcolonialism, I was appointed not only a director of our Laboratory, but a 'leader', so to say, of postcolonial department with a task to develop this field of knowledge, since it is practically absent from academia in Ukraine.

Plans for the future  
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