Looking at the tendencies of human development in the XXI century Europe, two largely contradictory trends can be distinguished: one the one hand, the processes of globalisation and integration have gradually advanced; one the other, there is a stronger propensity towards cultural differentiation, regionalization and identity preservation, especially at the regional level. Subsequently, the harmonisation of interethnic and national-ethnic relations as well as co-existence of different self-identifications have become of increasingly greater significance across the European spectrum. Particularly, ethno-national policies within the borderland territories have a strong impact on the relations between the neighbouring countries. It is especially relevant for Bukovyna. The complex history of shifting borderlines across its territory, competing nation-building narratives and a rich multiculturalism have all made the region of Bukovyna a particularly informative case study for examining the interaction between borders, identities and national affiliations.

Therefore, the project ‘Bukovyna as a Contact Zone’ looks at:

  • the interactions of different cultural, identity and historical strands present in the historic region of Bukovyna – the Ukrainian-Romanian borderland region;
  • how these multifaceted, overlapping layers impact on the interpretations and perceptions over a given territory.

The project aims to:

  • define the main trends of self-identification of those who self-position themselves as Romanians, live in the northern part of Bukovina and are citizens of Ukraine, and those who self-position themselves as Ukrainians, live in the southern part of Bukovina and are citizens of Romania;
  • identify what factors influence the two mentioned minorities’ attachments and loyalties towards the current state of their residency and the state of their ethnic origin and which of these factors have an upper hand.

The research explores and centralises the findings from the questionnaire-based survey, the first of its kind simultaneously conducted in May 2016 on both sides of the Ukrainian-Romanian borderland region of Bukovina by using the same methodology. In 2019 the survey was replicated to trace possible changes in the self-identification and attachments of Romanians from the northern part of Bukovina (Ukraine) and Ukrainians from the southern part of Bukovina (Romania) considering various social, cultural, political and economic aspects.

The project is a part of the ‘Transcultural Contact Zones in Ukraine’ research initiative coordinated by the University of St. Gallen and financially supported by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, Swiss National Science Foundation and the Wolodymyr George Danyliw Foundation.