Taking autoethnographic and reflexive approaches as a background, this article reflects on the tendency of a number of Western Anglophone academic writings to impose a patronising perspective on, and indeed try to silence, commentary on Ukraine concerning the ongoing Russian invasion. This line of argumentation has become known as “westplaining”, and it seems to have taken the place of the old “orientalism”. Such interventions neglect or elide the variety of regional perspectives and their entangled histories, embodied experiences and emotional contexts that are all too germane to those of us who have been doing fieldwork in Ukraine for years now. Such a regrettable imposition of ill-equipped “westplaining” thinking results in a presentation of a distanced, patronising, sometimes partisan and too-commonly facile view of the complexity of current events. Through ostensibly disinterested and compassionate appeals to listen to the “western” perspective first, the local insiders’ voices are effectively silenced. In contrast, I discuss the importance of emotional testimonies and active empathy in social anthropology as responses to collective evil and violence, and as one possible way to overcome the borders that intellectual colonialism creates within the academic community.


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How to Cite

Buyskykh, J. (2023). OLD-NEW COLONIAL TENDENCIES IN SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY:: EMPATHY IN WARTIME. Ethnologia Polona, 44. https://doi.org/10.23858/ethp.2023.44.3366