Trauma and resilience within Ukraine: how the Russian full-scale invasion in 2022 effectuated changes in identity



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This thesis aims to show the juxtaposition that War creates in the formulation of creating a new collective national identity in Ukraine via the markers of trauma and resilience, especially within the youth of Ukraine, who have not yet experienced trauma at the hands of Russia. A second point of the thesis is to provide clarity as to the interconnectedness of the concepts of trauma, resilience, and identity. The interplay between these three concepts rests upon War creating a traumatogenic event, which rapidly and significantly alters identity. Trauma has the ability to either amplify vulnerability or can facilitate the development of resiliency which subsequently becomes a defining characteristic of the collective national identity. Interviews were conducted on site in Ukraine from March 17 until March 30. A total of 14 interviews were conducted: 5 face to face and 9 via Zoom. Respondents were all Ukrainian citizens who were between ages 19-30, meaning that they fit the definition of youth and Post- Soviet. Thematic analysis (Maguire and Delahunt, 2017) was used to code themes from the interviews. 3 concepts produced 3 theoretical frameworks, each linking with one another. The triad of lay trauma theory (Alexander, 2004), resilience theory (van Breda, 2001) (Bourbeau, 2017), and social identity theory (Hogg, 2018) were applied. The results produced via thematic analysis consisted of the validation that the trauma of the full-scale invasion has had the effect of unification of both Ukrainians as well as political institutions and civil society. A shared trauma coupled with proximity to displaced individuals ignored previously held prejudices pertaining to regional differences. A schism from the narrative of “one people” within Russkiy Mir (Kasianov, 2022) had the effect of returning to previous markers such as individuality, open-mindedness, tolerance, and independence. The research conducted has shown that the changes in identity through trauma and the adherence to democratic resilience were sudden and impactful. Limitations remain in the form of answering whether these changes are, indeed, long-term.