Donbas Studies DS

Donbas Studies Summer School 2019

Donbas Studies Summer School 2019

June 24 — July 2, 2019, as part of the project (Mono)townthe Donbas Studies project is launching the Summer School 2019, a school for young researchers and artists with a particular focus on the cultural potential of the communities of monofunctional cities of the Donbas, namely, in Sieverodonetsk, Lysychansk and Rubizhne.

The main themes are the (mono)town, the revitalisation of (post)industrial spaces, cultural and creative practices for building communities, cultural memory, cultural studies, the transformation of public spaces and sustainable urban ecosystems.

“The plant gave me everything: it gave me a flat, and a life, my kids are working, the lads, doing no worse than their father. So I have something to be proud of” —  one character says in the film In the East (directed by Piotr Armianovski; 2015). The city around the plant, the city beyond the plant. What is a monotown; how does а city-forming enterprise affect the life of the community and its ideas of the past and future? Deindustrialisation and conflict are the main challenges faced by the residents of the monofunctional cities in Donbas today. What is the role of cultural and artistic practices in defining and redefining cultural identity in this context?

Considering the initiatives being already implemented in the region, the successful revitalisation of local cultural economies is only possible from within the community. Arts & Culture are the principal means in this process since they represent new approaches to developing a shared future for the community and simultaneously unite the inhabitants establishing a shared sense of identity in the city. Discursive cultural interventions rarely result in high-quality transformations; however, they help form sustainable connections between individuals and institutions. For instance, talking about the Centre for Contemporary Art in Sieverodonetsk (an installation piece where the artists fenced off some land in the town and put up posters announcing the establishment of a non-existent art centre), one local inhabitant spoke about the need for institutions that support the development of the community’s potential: “Without art, people degenerate.” In this way, art and culture can be seen as the foundations of civil society.

Summer School Objectives

  • Strengthening of the potential of local activists and the creation of new opportunities for their growth via interregional and international collaborations;
  • creating an environment for the exchange of ideas, capacity building, and the development of new skills;
  • researching urban and regional identities and post-industrial transformation;
  • defining the cultural and political specificities of industrial regions and participating in the formation of media discourse about the region;
  • reflecting on artistic and research practices and the way these can be employed from within the community (rather than by external actors);
  • the advancement of values related to the preservation of heritage and the creation of new forms of community cooperation within formerly industrial regions.

Course Structure at the Summer School

The theoretical element of the school will take place in Kyiv, Ukraine. Seminar themes and leaders may include the following (participation depends on funding):

  • Monotowns and their Heritage. Dr Irina Sklokina (Centre for Urban History of East Central Europe);
  • Transmediality and participatory politics: imagining Donbas storyworlds. Dr Victoria Donovan (University of St Andrews);
  • Performing Identity: Memory, Space, and the Politics of Aesthetics.Dr Jeffrey Murer (University of St Andrews);
  • Oral and Public History in community centered engaged studies: possibilities and limitations.Dr Mykola Borovyk (Taras Shevchenko National University).

Fieldwork will take place in Sieverodonetsk. The activities on site may include visits to the Nitrogen Museum, the Mining Museum, Shakhmatnoe, the Rubizhne Krasytel plant, an audiotour, meeting with local NGOs.

The output of the school will be a series of original project-reflections about the situation in post-industrial regions, both in Ukraine and other parts of Europe. The intention is that these projects will stimulate local initiatives and present models for making art and undertaking social projects with minimal resources and the active participation of the local community. Hopefully, participants at the school will not only work on studying the local context through their practice but will also help shape the local community’s understanding of their history, legacy, landscape and environment.


For more information, please, contact

Co-curated by Dmytro Chepurnyi and Darya Tsymbalyuk