A twelve-year-old boy in homemade armor, Roman Saveliev fought, ate, and slept alongside protestors during the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution on Kyiv’s Independence Square. Hailed by the international media as the “Child of the Maidan,” Roman became an image of a new Ukraine, a hopeful utopia of transparency and equality; his Romani identity served as a framing narrative for the media coverage. A member of one of the most marginalized and discriminated-against minorities in post-Soviet Eastern Europe, the boy both captured the imaginations and personified the fears of the Other through his mere presence at the center of such a pivotal political event. While international readers praised him, his gadje (non-Roma) neighbors in Yagotyn on the outskirts of Kyiv spoke negatively about the boy.
Elections should be about choices. There are many choices in play in Ukraine in the two upcoming cycles – Presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019. Ukraine has always been a pluralistic polity, with multiple centers of political, social, and economic power. Over the past five years, Ukrainians have fought and died, from the Maydan, to the eastern front in the Donbas, to Kherson, for the right to decide their own future. In 27 years of independence, there never has been a clear majority for one party – in that sense, Ukraine is very much a typical European parliamentary democracy. And the only time a Presidential candidate won a first round majority – in 2014 – it was because the second most popular candidate agreed to step aside and not compete in the first round...
Any historical situation contains elements of both the particular and the universal. The job of the historian is to help disentangle the universal from the particular, and understand the relationship between them. No moment is ever exactly the same as any other, just like no human being is exactly the same as any other. Nevertheless, there are things that we do learn from the past about the human condition: we learn, for instance, how quickly people can normalize the abnormal. We learn how things that people believed totally unimaginable can become the new normal just a few months later. We learn that most people most of the time will behave in a way shaped by the social situation in which they find themselves.
The pair I held in my lap stood sharply apart from the rest. There, among civilian shoes, this army pair looked like it was from another planet. I cried for the first time since I received the bag. My tears started to roll down my cheeks and onto the shoes. I took a cloth and started to clean them. Gently, like I did at home after I received them in the post. First, I removed the mud from the soles, then cleaned the rest of each shoe, and gave them a shine. I stroked them, like I did two years ago, and whispered to them: "Good luck! You can keep someone else dryer and warmer now."
Until the 1970s the dominant understanding of Canadian history was limited to that of the progress and development of an Anglo-Saxon, and to a smaller degree, French majority, which presupposed a history of successful conquest of the so-called “virgin lands” of the British and French empires. For a long time, the ideas of “progress” and “success” (of Anglo-Saxons and the French) served all major metaphors and concepts in scholarly, popular, and ideological reflections on the “building” and development of Canada as a state and nation.