“Our People, Our Rules, and Our Border!”: Village Networks, People’s Economies, and the Functioning of the State at the Western Edge of Ukraine
journal cover page; photograph in the coulours of Ukrainian flag of territory of Olbia, the Ukrainian National Historic and Archaeological Reserve, a famous archaeological site, located near the village Parutine, Mykolaivska oblast', Ukraine. 29.08.2021. Author: Julia Buyskykh.

Słowa kluczowe

local economy
village community

Jak cytować

Butko, M. (2023). “Our People, Our Rules, and Our Border!”: Village Networks, People’s Economies, and the Functioning of the State at the Western Edge of Ukraine . Etnografia Polska, 67(1–2). https://doi.org/10.23858/EP67.2023.3418


This paper aims to present local state and border administrations in terms of people’s everyday economies (their function and purpose). Instead of seeing local state institutions and border administration from a top-down perspective, I present them as socially negotiated, since the days of socialism to the present, by locals who have lived by (and made a living from) the international border with Slovakia for almost eighty years. I particularly reflect on the social relations and informal practices carried out through the border and performed from within local state institutions, and the unwritten rules of people’s economies in a particular Transcarpathian village community in Ukraine. I argue these economies, carried out within family networks that form a village community (built on sense of common belonging, trust, and moral obligations to peers), have served to establish local networks as effective means for gaining control of public offices and institutions (including the administration of the border) during socialism and in post-socialism. Hence, the local economy is presented as a model of transacting within and between local family networks in the environment of the local state and border administrations, whose functioning is strongly influenced by sociality and practices of the village community. The community, I posit, had adapted to socialism as a state regime by developing a performative competence to act according to communally-shared rules, albeit sometimes beyond formal rules. Adding to the key influence of interactions and transactions within local networks’ economies on the functioning of the border, I argue that the economies here served also moral and solidary purposes in times of more recent crises, that is, during the ongoing war in Ukraine that has brought extensive traffic to the external Schengen border. Favouring as a key resource in managing, negotiating and ultimately subverting official structures and institutions should thus be considered a core strategy of long-term resilience of local collectives against past and present adversities.



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Prawa autorskie (c) 2023 Etnografia Polska