The Meaning of the Maidan: Looking back at the Revolution of Dignity, Eight Years Later

Yale University Historian Marci Shore

Monday, October 10, 2022 3:30 PM to 4:45 PM EDT
Zoom Webinar

The Meaning of the Maidan: Looking back at the Revolution of Dignity, Eight Years Later
Marci Shore, Associate Professor of History, Yale University



The Ukraine attacked by Putin's army in the early morning hours of 24 February 2022 was not the same country it had been a decade earlier. On 21 November 2013, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych unexpectedly reversed the course of his own stated foreign policy and declined to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Around 8 p.m. that day a thirty-two year-old Afghan-Ukrainian journalist, Mustafa Nayem, posted a note on his Facebook page: “Come on, let’s get serious. Who is ready to go out to the Maidan”—Kyiv’s central square—“by midnight tonight? ‘Likes’ don’t count.” No one then knew that “likes don’t count”—a sentence that would have made no sense before Facebook—would bring about the return to metaphysics to Eastern Europe. The months that followed saw an unprecedented overcoming of hitherto-existing boundaries: the Maidan brought together parents and children, workers and intellectuals, Ukrainian-speakers and Russian-speakers, Poles and Ukrainians, Christians and Jews. While the world watched (or did not watch) the uprising on the Maidan as an episode in geopolitics, those in Kyiv during the winter of 2013–14 lived the revolution as an existential transformation: the blurring of night and day, the loss of a sense of time, the sudden disappearance of fear, the imperative to make choices. 


Marci Shore is an Associate Professor of History at Yale University, where her research focuses on modern Central and Eastern European intellectual history. She is the translator of Michał Głowiński’s The Black Seasons and the author of Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation’s Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968, The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe, and The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution. In 2018 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her current book project, a history of phenomenology in East-Central Europe, tentatively titled “Eyeglasses Floating in Space: Central European Encounters That Came about While Searching for Truth.” She is a regular visiting fellow at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna. 


This session will be moderated by Steven Barnes, Director of the Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. He is the series organizer and teaches and researches broadly on the history of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, modern Russia, Kazakhstan, and the other independent countries from this imperial space.


This lecture is part of George Mason University's Fall 2022 Lecture Series, "Russia's War on Ukraine in Historical Perspective." For other events and information on the series, visit the main series page.

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