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Intimate Chronologies of the Euromaidan

After Yanukovych in November 2013 suddenly suspended signing the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement in favour of closer political and economic relations with Russia, people across all of Ukraine immediately took to the streets in active opposition. Individuals began to organise into groups, and groups into a movement to express their views, values and identities. But who were these individuals who made up the collective and what was their individual role within the protest movement? What was it like to be a protester at the Maidan, at different times, in different cities? What did people at the Maidan believe in, why did they take to streets to manifest their beliefs, and what did they wish to achieve? These are only some of the questions this interview collection is intended to incite, and this database of thematically organized quotes can provide an easy access to addressing. The purpose of this project is to make interview responses available in a way that will make it easier for researchers to effectively find the information about the Maidan protest participation they are looking for.

Firstly, the interview responses that this database provides were gathered in two parts, the first in December 2013 and the second in February 2014.  The value of this methodology lies not only in allowing us to catch a glimpse of what it was like to be there in real life, and what it meant, to be an individual protester at the Maidan, but also reveals changes and developments in the course of participation across time and space – in more than 100 interviews.

Secondly, the methodology behind the Centre researchers’ data collection utilised structured and semi-structured interviews of various length and depth that were concentrated around a set thematic focus, and therefore enabled useful and relatively clear categorising. We focused the interview answers around three larger sets of categories for each city – Lviv, Kyiv and Kharkiv (with a small number of samples from Warsaw and Lublin) – according to their 1) ideational, 2) operational, and 3) city-specific characteristics, as outlined and explained by the participants.

This was the rationale behind this database: choosing particular categories that would enable researchers to look at the interviews from a different angle that would be meaning-specific, rather than question-specific. This means that answers, or relevant fractions categorised according to their meaning provide longer, fuller, and more nuanced and detailed account of the person’s protest experience.

All categories are thereby qualitative and answer-specific, not question-specific, which means that at times relevant fractions or whole answers are allocated into more than just one category. As a result, the individual answers to those particular categories compose a story, a development of ones’ protest experience. What this also means, and what we tried to do in terms of sorting and organising the interviews is that these deep, individual accounts can inform our understanding on the motivational as well as organisational sides of protest mobilisation: what motivated people to take to streets, what they did, how they organised, and how they perceived events and actors around them.

While some of the original questions were very specific to particular events, such as Leninopad, or Hrushevskoho street protests, therefore they have their own dedicated categories, other categories that encompass more abstract and unique answers are sorted within broader categories. Example of this would be perceptions of enemy or future, or self-identification.

As to the answers that encompass more abstract and broader issues, these are organised within broader categories such as motivations for participation, perceptions or memories, and are sorted according to their main focus or theme. An example of this would be remarks on perceptions of enemy or opposition, expectations of the future developments, self-identification or different identities; This, though making it more difficult for us personally, will bring much more nuance for future research. As a result, each interview organised according to these categories provides an individual story of participation that, taken as a whole, provides a collective of stories of the Maidan.

This is what we meant by the ‘Intimate Chronologies of the Euromaidan’, and this is the logic that guided the selection of categories what would grasp the nuances of mobilisation. This database introduces new knowledge to the existing literature on the Euromaidan protest period, and, thereby, promotes new qualitative research related to this period. The strength of the data lies in the personal narrative that has the power to challenge and inform the understanding we think we have about the protest organisation, its development over the three months of its duration, and of the participants’ individual accounts, thoughts and aspirations within the protest movement. Deeper qualitative account of all these various aspects of social mobilisation that these interviews reveal has the potential to inform our understanding of the origins of social movements – such as foundations of individual and collective action, ‘leaderless’, ‘spontaneous’ or ‘accidental’ participation – but also account for changes in the meaning of the Euromaidan itself, and the motivations and objectives of participants over time.
The interview data therefore, has a unique potential to inform our understanding of the individual at the Euromaidan protests – their beliefs, opinions, motives, and roles – those categories that usually get lost within analyses of the Euromaidan protests as a collective action.

The interview answers within the categories are divided from one another by three dots: ‘...’, and any information added to the text is marked by square brackets: ‘[]’. These additions are needed at times for clarification of the topic that the answer addresses. All interview responses are in their original language – whether Ukrainian or Russian.

Lastly, all interviews are anonymised and personal information revealed about the participants will, for ethical considerations, be restricted to the following: city of residency, profession and position within the Maidan protest (activist, organiser or participant). The database was developed by Hana Josticova, PhD researcher at the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Birmingham. Interviews were collected within the “Voices of Resistance and Hope” project held in 2013-14. Quotes prepared for publication by Olena Dmytryshyn and Stanislava Topchii from Ukrainian Catholic University.
Yulia Kulish, Vitalii Pavliuk, Oleksandr Korman, and Sofia Andrusyshyn translated this collection into English, Sonia Bilotserkovych made editing. This work became possible thanks to a grant received from the Ukrainian Institute as part of the Lysiak-Rudnytskyi Ukrainian Studies Support Program. 

Reference to the collection: Based on the materials of the UMA project of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, collection “Intimate Chronologies of the Euromaidan”.
Reference to the category: Quote from the category "Protest spaces", collection “Intimate Chronologies of the Euromaidan”, UMA project of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe.
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Intimate Chronologies of the Euromaidan