College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


religion, Ukraine, postcolonialism, nationalism, democracy


Although the 2013-2014 Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine was an expression of Ukrainian sovereignty and agency, a number of issues like the war in Donbas, dispute over Crimea, debilitating corruption, and the worst economic crisis since independence have left Ukrainians disenfranchised and seeking change elsewhere. The most visible vehicle for this was Ukrainians' turn to particular religious institutions, revisiting religious identity as an expression of agency. While Ukrainian state democracy has struggled, Ukrainians are democratizing vis-à-vis religious allegiance. This culminated, in part, in the 2018 decision to combine two of Ukraine's Orthodox Churches into a united Church recognized for the first time by other Orthodox Churches outside of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church's operations in Ukraine continues to claim sole legitimacy, much like the Russian State's neo-imperial claims to Ukraine; and the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, once illegal, signals an aspiration to European-style government, economics, and jurisprudence. This thesis uncovers Ukraine’s democratization of religious allegiance and its influence on Ukrainians’ divergent aspirations of European-ness, Ukrainian-ness, and orthodoxy in their postcolonial, postindependence, and post-revolutionary development. Furthermore, the thesis traces how these aspirations have been influenced by non-governmental actors and foreign and domestic state actors.