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Title [en]
Propaganda and management of information in the Ukraine-Russia conflict: From nation branding to information war
Abstract [en]
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has once again reminded the world that wars are not only fought with guns and physical violence, but also with information technologies. In Western mass media, attention has foremost concentrated on Russian propaganda, directed both towards Russian-speaking populations and international publics. With the rise and establishment of social networking media in conjunction with the spread of personal and mobile media technologies such as laptops, mobile phones and tablet computers, propaganda and information management take on new forms, and thus also involve a new set of agents. This project focusses on Ukraine as an arena for propaganda. This project aims at analysing the new types of actors engaged in information war, and how these impact on the practice and expressive character of information warfare. It covers three domains of communication activities: 1. Pro-Ukrainian propaganda directed towards international audiences outside of Ukraine. 2. Domestic propaganda in support of the government. 3. Communication efforts to counter Russian propaganda. The focus is on actors and institutions, and on the ways in which the type of actors involved have an impact on the forms and contents of the communicated messages. The research questions focus on actors, audiences and messages in and around information management and propaganda. The basic point of departure is the assumption that new actors trained in commercial campaigning and PR will have an impact on the ways in information management is orchestrated, and hence will affect the messages disseminated (and, presumably, its reception). Methodologically, it will interview key informants engaged in information management in Ukraine, as well as textual analysis of information material of various kinds. It can be expected that the project adds to the existing literature on (a) War and the media; (b) Opinion formation, persuasion and propaganda; and (c) Public diplomacy, soft power and nation branding. The team consists of two senior researchers with extensive experience in researching media campaigns, nation branding and information management and two junior researchers with cultural and linguistic expertise in the area (Russia and Ukraine). The project will also recruit one PhD-candidate.
Publications (10 of 30) Show all publications
Ståhlberg, P. & Bolin, G. (2023). Managing Meaning in Ukraine: Information, Communication, and Narration since the Euromaidan Revolution. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing Meaning in Ukraine: Information, Communication, and Narration since the Euromaidan Revolution
2023 (English)Book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

An in-depth look at Ukraine's attempts to shape how it is perceived by the rest of the world.

During times of crisis, competing narratives are often advanced to define what is happening, and the stakes of information management by nations are high. In this timely book, Göran Bolin and Per Ståhlberg examine the fraught intersection of state politics, corporate business, and civil activism to understand the dynamics and importance of meaning management in Ukraine. Drawing on fieldwork inside the country, the authors discuss the forms, agents, and platforms within the complex political and communicative situation and how each articulated and acted upon perceptions of the propaganda threat.

Bolin and Ståhlberg focus their analysis on the period between 2013 and 2022, when political tensions, commercial dynamics, and new communication technologies bred novel forms of information management. As they show, entities from governments and governmental administration to commercial actors, entrepreneurs, and activists formed new alliances in order to claim a stake in information policy. Bolin and Ståhlberg also explore how the various agents engaged in information management and strove to manage meaning in communication practice; the communicative tools they took advantage of; and the subsequent consequences for narrative constructions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2023. p. 166
Series
Information Policy Series
National Category
Media Studies Social Anthropology
Research subject
Critical and Cultural Theory
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-51481 (URN)9780262545563 (ISBN)9780262374583 (ISBN)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Available from: 2023-05-12 Created: 2023-05-12 Last updated: 2023-05-15Bibliographically approved
Yurchuk, Y. (2021). Historians as Activists: History Writing in Times of War. The Case of Ukraine in 2014–2018. Nationalities Papers, 49(4), 691-709
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Historians as Activists: History Writing in Times of War. The Case of Ukraine in 2014–2018
2021 (English)In: Nationalities Papers, ISSN 0090-5992, E-ISSN 1465-3923, Vol. 49, no 4, p. 691-709Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article elucidates the role of historians in times of war and the peculiarities of popular history narratives written by historians who became activists. The article focuses on historians who call themselves “Likbez. Historical Front.” This cohort gave rise to a new professional species—activist historians—who are different from so called memorians or propagandists, who work in service of authorities. Likbez historians tried to use their power to influence and promote their activist agenda not only in the realm of memory and history but also in reformation of state institutions. I argue that for Likbez historians, securitization of the past is the main strategy employed for producing historical knowledge. Historians’ work is a part of postcolonizing process observed in Ukrainian society since the Maidan protests. As the analysis shows, popular history narratives written with an open activist agenda are a result of many compromises made by scholars in the intersection of several factors: professional ambitions, political and civic aims, social and political context, popular expectations, and market environment. In line with the increased attention to agency in memory studies, this article demonstrates that historians have a much more nuanced relation to power than straightforward opposition or co-option.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2021
Keywords
Ukraine, history writing, memory, postcolonial
National Category
History
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies; Historical Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-42044 (URN)10.1017/nps.2020.38 (DOI)000701269700008 ()2-s2.0-85111248804 (Scopus ID)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 56/2015
Available from: 2020-10-05 Created: 2020-10-05 Last updated: 2024-05-02Bibliographically approved
Bolin, G. & Ståhlberg, P. (2021). The PowerPoint Nation: Branding an Imagined Commodity. European Review, 29(4), 445-456
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The PowerPoint Nation: Branding an Imagined Commodity
2021 (English)In: European Review, ISSN 1062-7987, E-ISSN 1474-0575, Vol. 29, no 4, p. 445-456Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the formation of the modern nation state and the social imaginary of nationalism in the nineteenth century, the media and representational practices have, among most scholars, been ascribed a prominent position. The question is, however, how have changes in media technologies, from mass media to digital and interactive personal media, impacted on the national imaginaries over the past few decades? This article discusses what happens with the social imaginaries when national(ist) symbols are reproduced through the medium of PowerPoint, as one of the main tools for constructing images of the nation in nation-branding campaigns, i.e. promotional campaigns initiated by governments in conjunction with corporate actors with the aim of producing an attractive image of a country for foreign investors and tourists. It is concluded that the representational technology of PowerPoint produces a nation as an imagined commodity rather than an imagined community.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2021
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-40613 (URN)10.1017/S1062798720000496 (DOI)000672033500003 ()2-s2.0-85083772607 (Scopus ID)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 56/2015
Available from: 2020-05-04 Created: 2020-05-04 Last updated: 2022-03-01Bibliographically approved
Voronova, L. (2020). Between Dialogue and Confrontation: Two Countries — One Profession Project and the Split in Ukrainian Journalism Culture. Central European Journal of Communication, 13(1(25)), 24-40
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Between Dialogue and Confrontation: Two Countries — One Profession Project and the Split in Ukrainian Journalism Culture
2020 (English)In: Central European Journal of Communication, ISSN 1899-5101, Vol. 13, no 1(25), p. 24-40Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In a process of continuously adjusting to and counteracting the circumstances of conflict since 2014, the Ukrainian media community has become polarized (Budivska & Orlova, 2017). Nygren et al. (2018) observe a confrontation between the ideal of neutrality in coverage and favoring “patriotic journalism” in practice among Ukrainian journalists. This article takes this discussion further and highlights the role of professional journalism associations and international organizations in the struggles within the journalism culture in the situation of conflict. The article uses Ginosar’s (2015) interpretation of Hanitzsch’s (2007) model of journalism culture and Mouffe’s (2013) conceptualization of agonistic vs. antagonistic struggle to discuss the project Two Countries — One Profession is initiated and supported by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. Finally, it draws on the reactions by the Ukrainian media community.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Polish Communication Association, 2020
Keywords
conflict, journalism association, journalism culture, objectivity, patriotic journalism, Ukraine
National Category
Media Studies
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies; Critical and Cultural Theory
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-41486 (URN)10.19195/1899-5101.13.1(25).3 (DOI)000605736000003 ()2-s2.0-85088318416 (Scopus ID)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 56/2015
Available from: 2020-06-30 Created: 2020-06-30 Last updated: 2021-01-29Bibliographically approved
Yurchuk, Y. & Voronova, L. (2020). Challenges of Ongoing Conflict Research: Dialogic Autoethnography in Studies of Post-2014 Ukraine. In: Sandra Jeppesen & Paola Sartoretto (Ed.), Media Activist Research Ethics: (pp. 249-268). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Challenges of Ongoing Conflict Research: Dialogic Autoethnography in Studies of Post-2014 Ukraine
2020 (English)In: Media Activist Research Ethics / [ed] Sandra Jeppesen & Paola Sartoretto, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, p. 249-268Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The transdisciplinary collaborative project “Propaganda and management of information in the Ukraine-Russia conflict” (2016–2018) that the authors were a part of, focused on Ukrainian actors and used ethnography, and particularly interview, as its primary methodology. We have been interviewing journalists, media experts, historians, etc. Many of the informants highlighted their roles as activists and change agents in the post-2014 society. Coming from different research fields (history and journalism and media studies), we have been reflecting upon the tension between our striving at academic neutrality and the different disciplinary approaches, as well as unavoidable emotional involvement in the subject we scrutinize. The chapter is based on dialogic autoethnography wherein we reflect on the challenges the researchers face when conducting ethnographic research on activists and dealing with such sensitive issues as information warfare and armed conflict. This becomes especially problematic when scholars come from the countries involved in the conflict, Ukraine and Russia. It continues the discussion about the role of emotions in ethnographic research. We aim to contribute to several discussions: field of conflict ethnography, work in multidisciplinary research environment, and particularities of conducting interviews with activists.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020
Series
Global Transformations in Media and Communication Research - A Palgrave and IAMCR Series
National Category
Media Studies History
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-41937 (URN)10.1007/978-3-030-44389-4_12 (DOI)978-3-030-44388-7 (ISBN)978-3-030-44389-4 (ISBN)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 56/2015
Available from: 2020-09-24 Created: 2020-09-24 Last updated: 2024-05-02Bibliographically approved
Voronova, L. (2020). Conflict as a point of no return: Immigrant and internally displaced journalists in Ukraine. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 23(5), 817-835
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conflict as a point of no return: Immigrant and internally displaced journalists in Ukraine
2020 (English)In: European Journal of Cultural Studies, ISSN 1367-5494, E-ISSN 1460-3551, Vol. 23, no 5, p. 817-835Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Ukrainian Euromaidan protests in 2013, alongside the Brexit vote and the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, have strongly changed the imaginary of Europe. Apart from ideological shifts and geopolitical changes, the situation in Ukraine has led to a geographic relocation and displacement of media producers and audiences alike. Yet, in the Ukrainian context and beyond, little is known about dislocated journalists in conflict situations. This article addresses the specific experiences of immigrant and internally displaced journalists, their imagined audiences and the overarching construction of post-revolutionary Ukraine as an imagined community. The argument draws empirically from the dislocatory experiences and relocatory trajectories of two groups: immigrant journalists, who moved to Ukraine from Russia, and journalists who migrated internally – to Kyiv and other government-controlled Ukrainian regions from Crimea and non-government-controlled areas of Donbas. For immigrant and internally displaced journalists, the search for new identities and positions is strongly related to their imagination of the audiences. The journalists notice a simultaneous fragmentation and unification of the audiences driven by both top-down and down-up intentions of post-revolutionary nation building. They hope to contribute to turning the fragmented communities into a media nation that will perceive them as ‘us’.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2020
Keywords
Imagined audience, imagined community, immigrant, internally displaced, journalists, Ukraine
National Category
Media Studies
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies; Critical and Cultural Theory
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-38934 (URN)10.1177/1367549419869351 (DOI)000485370000001 ()2-s2.0-85073924216 (Scopus ID)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 56/2015
Note

Published ahead of print on September 9, 2019

Available from: 2019-09-10 Created: 2019-09-10 Last updated: 2022-03-01Bibliographically approved
Voronova, L. (2020). Dialogic spaces in the situation of conflict: Stepping stones and sticking points. In: Laura Roselle, Sarah Maltby, Ben O’Loughlin and Katy Parry (Ed.), Spaces of War, War of Spaces: (pp. 205-230). London: Bloomsbury Academic
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dialogic spaces in the situation of conflict: Stepping stones and sticking points
2020 (English)In: Spaces of War, War of Spaces / [ed] Laura Roselle, Sarah Maltby, Ben O’Loughlin and Katy Parry, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, p. 205-230Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The chapter poses a question whether and where in the situation of conflict there is a space for dialogue. What is the role of journalism and journalists in the discursive construction of the dialogic spaces? The chapter focuses on the discursive construction of the spaces for dialogue by international organizations, professional associations, and individual journalists in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020
Keywords
conflict, dialogue, dialogic space, information war, journalism
National Category
Communication Studies Media Studies
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies; Critical and Cultural Theory
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-41672 (URN)10.5040/9781501360282.ch-012 (DOI)978-1-5013-6031-2 (ISBN)978-1-5013-6028-2 (ISBN)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 56/2015
Available from: 2020-08-11 Created: 2020-08-11 Last updated: 2022-03-01Bibliographically approved
Voronova, L. & Widholm, A. (2019). Broadcasting Against the Grain: The Contradictory Roles of RT in a Global Media Age. In: Kern-Stone, Rebecca & Mishra, Suman (Ed.), Transnational Media: Concepts and Cases (pp. 207-213). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Broadcasting Against the Grain: The Contradictory Roles of RT in a Global Media Age
2019 (English)In: Transnational Media: Concepts and Cases / [ed] Kern-Stone, Rebecca & Mishra, Suman, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2019, p. 207-213Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

RT (formerly Russia Today) is a transnational television news broadcaster launched in 2005 by the Russian government. It is one of the most controversial global news actors, often associated with misinformation, propaganda and fake news. In this capacity, the channel can also be seen as an instance of an increasingly pluralized global information space where traditional legacy media meet competition by alternative news outlets. This chapter takes a broad grip on RT and delves into its roles and objectives as it has been addressed by media scholars, NGOs, other news media institutions and not least RT itself. We begin by discussing RT’s activities and competitors on the global news market, after which we discuss these activities from the perspectives of soft power, public diplomacy, propaganda and nation branding. The chapter ends with concluding remarks and suggestions for future research in this area.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2019
National Category
Media Studies
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies; Critical and Cultural Theory
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-37971 (URN)2015/3.1.1/1417 (Local ID)978-1-119-39459-4 (ISBN)978-1-119-39457-0 (ISBN)2015/3.1.1/1417 (Archive number)2015/3.1.1/1417 (OAI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 56/2015
Available from: 2019-04-08 Created: 2019-04-08 Last updated: 2020-06-12Bibliographically approved
Törnquist-Plewa, B. & Yurchuk, Y. (2019). Memory politics in contemporary Ukraine: Reflections from the postcolonial perspective. Memory Studies, 12(6), 699-720
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Memory politics in contemporary Ukraine: Reflections from the postcolonial perspective
2019 (English)In: Memory Studies, ISSN 1750-6980, E-ISSN 1750-6999, Vol. 12, no 6, p. 699-720Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Reporting from the events of the so-called ‘Euro-revolution’ in Ukraine 2013–2014, the Western media were prompt to point out the excessive use of national symbols, including those connected with the memory of the Ukrainian nationalist organizations ‘OUN’ and ‘UPA’, which for some periods of time had cooperated with Nazi Germany and were involved in the killing of civilians. By using a postcolonial perspective, the article aims to explain this phenomenon, as well as a number of other elements of the politics of memory in contemporary Ukraine, such as the so-called ‘Decommunization Laws’ adopted in 2015. Special attention is paid to Frantz Fanon’s idea of ‘anticolonial nationalism’ and Homi Bhabha’s idea of hybridity and their realization in Ukraine.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2019
Keywords
hybridity, Maidan revolution, nationalism, postcolonial, Ukraine, UPA
National Category
History
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-36477 (URN)10.1177/1750698017727806 (DOI)000502504600007 ()2-s2.0-85073988269 (Scopus ID)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 56/2015
Available from: 2018-10-03 Created: 2018-10-03 Last updated: 2024-05-02Bibliographically approved
Bolin, G. & Ståhlberg, P. (2019). The mediatized nation: Identity, agency and audience in nation branding campaigns. InMediaciones de la Comunicación (2), 187-207
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The mediatized nation: Identity, agency and audience in nation branding campaigns
2019 (English)In: InMediaciones de la Comunicación, ISSN 1510-5091, no 2, p. 187-207Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nation branding is a dynamic and rapidly developing practice and a subprocess under the wider process of mediatization for promoting or readjusting images of a nation-state for tourists or investors. Especially young nation states have a felt need to build new images of themselves in the eyes of the surrounding world, but since these nation states also have a short history of sovereignty, they simultaneously need to build the social solidarity and community inwards, to form the basis needed for the building of a nation. This article takes its departure in this tension and addresses three themes – agency, audience and identity – that we consider needs further theorizing due to the fact that the practice is yet trying to find its form. These themes are discussed in relation to the branding efforts in the new Eastern European state of Ukraine over the past decade. It is concluded that the nation branding campaigns are today orchestrated also by domestic PR agencies (to the contrary of the previous dominance of British agencies), that the domestic audience is taken into consideration in other ways than in previous branding campaigns, and that the questions of identity construction is more complex than what is previously accounted for. The Ukrainian case thus illustrates the mediatization of national symbols in contemporary society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Universidad ORT Uruguay, 2019
Keywords
nation branding, mediatization, identity, audience, agency
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-48498 (URN)10.18861/ic.2019.14.2.2926 (DOI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 56/2015
Available from: 2022-03-01 Created: 2022-03-01 Last updated: 2024-05-21Bibliographically approved
Principal InvestigatorStåhlberg, Per
Co-InvestigatorVoronova, Liudmila
Co-InvestigatorYurchuk, Yuliya
Co-InvestigatorBolin, Göran
Coordinating organisation
Södertörn University
Funder
Period
2016-01-01 - 2018-12-31
Keywords [sv]
Östersjö- och Östeuropaforskning
Keywords [en]
Baltic and East European studies
National Category
Communication Studies
Identifiers
DiVA, id: project:1722Project, id: 56/2015_OSS

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