The lives and afterlives of a Soviet misfit: Volodymyr Ivasiuk, the emotional crisis of late socialism, and the anti-Soviet turn in Ukrainian popular culture

Zbigniew Wojnowski

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    60 Downloads (Pure)


    This article examines the evolution of Ukrainian culture between the 1970s and the 1990s. It focuses on the composer Volodymyr Ivasiuk whose Ukrainian-language pop conquered Soviet audiences. Ivasiuk was a mainstream artist, but turned into a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to Soviet rule after his premature death. His story provides insights into the dynamics of Soviet collapse, revealing how Soviet Ukrainian cultural artefacts acquired anti-Soviet meanings. It frames the Ukrainian national movement as a rebellion against Soviet emotional norms. Although Ivasiuk’s work helped popularise the notion that socialism provided paths to self-realisation, memories of his life and death highlighted that depression, doubt, and alienation placed many people outside the Soviet community. They fuelled new visions of Ukrainianness which framed attempts to push the limits of permissible emotional expression during the 1980s. The marriage between Ukrainian nationalism and emotional rebellion collapsed as guardians of Ivasiuk’s memory subsequently revived Brezhnev-era cultural norms.

    © 2021, The Author(s) 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an author produced version of a paper published in CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN HISTORY uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalContemporary European History
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2022

    Cite this