8 Sep

Geographical Review Preview: Indigeneity, Displacement, and Regional Place Attachment Among IDPs from Crimea

By: Austin Charron

What is the main purpose of your study? 

The purpose of this study is to show how indigenous identities and experiences of colonization impact place attachment, using as a case study internally displaced peoples (IDPs) from Crimea following the region’s annexation by Russia in 2014.

What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study? 

This study shows that attachment to the region of Crimea continues to be strong among people of all ethnic backgrounds who left Crimea for mainland Ukraine following the 2014 Russian annexation, although attachments tend to be strong among the indigenous Crimean Tatars compared to Slavic (ethnically Russian and Ukrainian) peoples from Crimea. 

How does your study relate to other work on the subject?

This study follows several works that examine place attachment among indigenous peoples in various contexts around the world, but differs from most by focusing on the practical and material consequences of colonization rather than alternative cultural perspectives on humans’ relationships with nature and place. It also follows recent studies regarding IDPs in Ukraine, but is one of only a few to focus on IDPs from Crimea specifically instead of the war-ravage region of eastern Ukraine, and the only to consider questions of place attachment 

What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study? 

Among IDPs from Crimea, indigenous Crimean Tatars maintain a much stronger regional place attachment to Crimea than Slavic Crimeans because they have developed a deep inter-generational narrative of belonging to Crimea shaped by cyclical patterns of displacement at the hands of Russian and Soviet colonizers, with their displacement since 2014 representing the latest iteration in this cycle. While Crimean Tatars draw from this collective narrative about Crimea’s meaning, Slavic Crimeans express their attachment to Crimea mostly through a reverence for its natural environment, namely its mountains and coastline.

What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study? 

This study expands upon theories of place attachment by demonstrating that indigenous place attachments may be influenced not only by the alternative, non-Western worldviews associated with various indigenous cultures, but by the processes of cultural suppression, displacement, and dispossession that indigenous peoples typically experience under colonialism. 

How does your research help us think about Geography? 

By contrasting discourses of regional place attachment between indigenous and non-indigenous IDPs, this study offers new ways to think about humans’ relationships with place and place-based identities that foreground the varying experiences and impacts of colonization.

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Click here to read the abstract of this article.