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Ukrainian geopolitical fault-line cities: urban identities, geopolitics and urban policy

Apartment block in central Mariupol. Photograph by Michael Gentile, 12 November 2018.

The project has an extended website; regular updates are also posted in its open facebook group.


About the project

This project explores urban policy issues in Ukraine’s "geopolitical fault-line cities", focusing on policy areas that are most exposed to the country’s geopolitical and foreign policy choices. There are two main goals, one scientific and the other policy-oriented. Using the examples of five case study cities in southeastern Ukraine – Kharkiv, Dnipro, Mariupol, Sloviansk/Kramatorsk and Luhansk – the scientific goal is to advance the concept of the geopolitical fault-line city and to contribute to the knowledge on conflict in divided or polarized cities. The main policy-related goal is to explore the urban social and identity policy challenges confronting southeastern Ukrainian geopolitical fault-line cities. 
The project includes five work packages: (1) Soviet legacies in the southeastern Ukrainian urban social landscape, with a focus on housing; (2) Countering urban disinformation in the traditional and social media; (3) Accommodating displaced persons from the Donbas and Crimea in Ukrainian cities; (4) Urban identities, identity politics and social cohesion during/after the Donbas war; (5) Theorizing geopolitical fault-line cities. The work packages use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods appropriate to the issues and questions covered by them. The main sources of primary data will include survey materials from Kharkiv, Dnipro and Mariupol and interviews with key persons, officials and residents of the case study cities.
The project relies on a multi-sited interdisciplinary research environment which includes experts from the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, from the national universities of Kiev, Odessa and Kharkiv, and from the University of Oslo. It is supported by an international network of leading scholars and NGO representatives.


Primary theoretical objective: Building on a detailed analysis of the southeastern Ukrainian urban context, the overarching goal is to theorize the "geopolitical fault-line city".

Primary policy-related objective: To detail the urban social and identity policy challenges, including disinformation, confronting Ukrainian cities in order to support critical related policy decisions.

Secondary (subordinate) objectives:

1. To examine the political and economic forces that have formed the social geography of cities in southeastern Ukraine, and how they influence the (Donbas-related) conflict dynamics today.
2. To examine the urban context of disinformation, and to help identify effective strategies to counter such disinformation.
3. To examine the characteristics and effectiveness of internal displacement policies at the urban level.
4. To examine how urban identities articulate themselves in the built environment and among the residents of Ukraine’s geopolitical fault-line cities.


The total grant award was for NOK 4 000 000 

Russia and the High North/Arctic (NORRUSS)

The Research Council of Norway


Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University

Odessa I.I. Mechnikov National University

Institute of Geography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Kyiv School of Economics (Centre for Excellence in Economic Journalism)



View all works in Cristin

  • Gentile, Michael (2020). Book review: How to Lose the Information War - Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict (by Nina Jankowicz). Eurasian geography and economics. ISSN 1538-7216. doi: 10.1080/15387216.2020.1825982.
  • Gentile, Michael (2019). Geopolitical fault-line cities.
  • Gentile, Michael (2019). The City Self and urban “Europeanization” in EU Association Agreement countries: Palmanova or Palma di Montechiaro?
  • Gentile, Michael & Sjöberg, Örjan (2019). The use of theory in post-wall urban studies: a means to comparative and explanatory ends or mere window dressing? .
  • Gentile, Michael (2019). Fakespace in Ukrainian geopolitical faultline cities.
  • Gentile, Michael (2019). Geopolitical fault-line cities and the curious case of Ukrainian mainstream nationalism.
  • Gentile, Michael (2018). Good science, good writing, etc.
  • Gentile, Michael (2018). Manufacturing difference, disconnecting a region: post-socialism as a barrier to thought.
  • Gentile, Michael (2018). How (not) to publish in an international English-language journal.
  • Gentile, Michael (2018). Geopolitical and foreign policy preferences in Dnipro and Kharkiv: an early exploration.
  • Gentile, Michael (2018). Manufacturing difference, disconnecting a region: post-socialism as a barrier to thought.
  • Gentile, Michael (2018). Fieldwork, challenges, ethics and risks.

View all works in Cristin

Published Nov. 21, 2018 11:17 AM - Last modified Sep. 15, 2021 10:33 AM


Detailed list of participants