Prisma Ukraïna
2022/ 2023

Vadym Ilin

Military Destruction of the Late Soviet Urban Space and Soviet Man’s Identity in Ukraine

Previous Fellowships: 2022

Vadym Ilin was an associate professor of the Department of Social Sciences and Humanities at Kharkiv National University of Construction and Architecture. He received his PhD in Ukrainian History from V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University. For his dissertation, he researched the local development of Soviet health care in 1945–1991. His current academic interests span identities during the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921 and the late Soviet period, the history of medical infrastructure, and urban space. Vadym Ilin was a short-term remote Fellow of Prisma Ukraïna (April to July 2022) in Kharkiv and is a 2022/2023 non-resident Fellow of the research group Prisma Ukraïna: War, Migration and Memory at the Forum Transregionale Studien.

Military Destruction of the Late Soviet Urban Space and Soviet Man’s Identity in Ukraine

Vadym Ilin’s project uses the destruction of Ukrainian late Soviet city districts during the latest Russian invasion of Ukraine as a means to explore the change of the concept of the ‘Soviet Man’s identity’. The research starts with an investigation of how the late Soviet urban landscape shaped Soviet identity and formed the so-called “civilization of panel high-rise buildings”. In his project, Ilin suggests that this late Soviet urban landscape was rooted in mass consciousness as the image of stability and ‘normality’. For an average inhabitant of large-scale housing estates in 1991, it was impossible to imagine scenes of their systematic and routine destruction from a Russian war in Ukraine. An analysis of the destruction of Soviet panel housing could help uncover a psychological break with the Soviet past that is realized through the negation, self-destruction, and ‘decommunization’ of symbols and material values. One of the central questions of the project is how the link between ‘identity’ and its spatial dimension in this context reveals the endpoint of the Soviet Man and what this means for post-war Ukraine.