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Forum on Southeast Europe • The War in Ukraine: Language, Identity and the Legacy of the Yugoslav Conflicts

March 8, 2023 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

This presentation explores the cultural and linguistic ramifications of the ongoing war in Ukraine arguing that the Russian invasion has accelerated processes of Ukrainianization especially among the country’s Russian speakers. These processes have arisen in direct defiance of Vladimir Putin’s declared aims of liberating and protecting Ukraine’s Russian speaking population. Like Slobodan Milošević in the Yugoslav conflicts of the 1990s, Putin has used historical grievances  and language issues to justify his country’s attacks on Ukrainian cities, towns and villages. As will be demonstrated in this talk, the Yugoslav precedent helps us understand Putin’s mindset and may provide clues as to future scenarios as we enter the second year of the war.

Professor Robert Greenberg is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He has held teaching positions at Yale, Hunter College, Georgetown, and the UNC-Chapel Hill. Professor Greenberg specializes in South Slavic languages and linguistics, and has worked primarily on sociolinguistic issues in the former Yugoslavia, exploring issues of language, nationalism, and ethnic identity both in Tito’s Yugoslavia and in the years following Yugoslavia’s breakup. He is the author of “Language and Identity in the Balkans” (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Presented by the UNC Forum on Southeast Europe. This event is free and open to the public. For directions to the venue and parking options, please see here


March 8, 2023
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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1009 FedEx Global Education Center
301 Pittsboro St
Chapel Hill, NC 27516 United States
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