REPOSSESSION: Notes on Restoration and Redemption in Ukraine's Western Borderland:

KAROLINA SZMAGALSKA-FOLLIS

ABSTRACT

This essay is an ethnographic account of the use of post-Soviet military ruins in western Ukraine. I describe an encounter with the founder of a commune for persons released from prison, victims of human trafficking, and asylum seekers established in a former nuclear base in Ukraine's western borderland. The commune is an unusual restoration project that is carried out in the interstices of the postsocialist state and of the changing European border regime. As such, it is a compelling site for rethinking dispossession and the possibility of redemption some 15 years after the USSR ceased to exist. The protagonist of this account redeems ruins left behind by the collapse of an empire he was glad to see go, and reproduces precisely that which has been lost in the process of the unmaking of Soviet life, that is the all-embracing domain of collective work and life.