WAR AS THE ULTIMATE DISRUPTION: SHATTERED EPISTEMOLOGIES AND STUTTERING SPEECH
THE EDITORIAL PREFACE
This editorial preface to a collection of essays, put together under the topic “Transformation of society and academia in the wake of the Russian war in Ukraine: urgent notes”, touches upon some landslide shifts in East European Studies. The urgency is validated by the gravity of epistemological challenges that the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has presented: coming from predominantly Russocentric perspectives, with little space for indigenous voices and local expertise, Area Studies largely failed to predict or explain the ongoing developments in Ukraine. Although the imbalanced global knowledge economy persists, some changes are gaining ground: those speaking from the privileged positions temporarily suspend their expertise and former subalterns start speaking up. These phenomena have not yet produced a paradigmatic shift but rather a palimpsest of narratives against muteness in the face of war atrocities — the author captures this complex intermingle of speaking and silence with the metaphor of “stuttering speech”. One of the key questions this special issue is aimed to address is how scholars can verbalize human experiences that are hardly explicable, in the situation when the language itself is “broken” — or, in scholarly parlance, where established paradigms do not work. How can one make sense of the events that seem absurd and resist interpretation? An overview of authors’ contributions to the issue is presented, aimed to put separate essays in dialogue with each other to articulate the major lesson from this war-instigated epistemological crisis. Stop assuming that you know. Unlearn. And listen.
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