Cultural Diversity of Political Solidarity. A Case from the Black Sea Region

Stephan Rindlisbacher comments on Rory Finnin’s lecture on 1st March:

In his lecture, Rory Finnin addressed intertextual references between Ukrainian literature and writings of Crimean Tatars, suggesting that common suffering could build a ground for solidarity between communities of ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars. This would open up opportunities for a joint mobilisation in the cultural, but also in the political sphere.

Rory Finnin

Finnin gave examples of Tatar authors like Agatangel Kryms’kyi, Osman Akchokrakly or Yunus Temirkaia, Samad Shukur and Shamil Aliadin, who explored the trope of the Ukrainian-Tatar connection, but he referred also to Hrushevs’kyi and Shevchenko, important Ukrainian intellectuals and writers. Finnin showed how metaphors can bridge distance between the two literary communities. He tried to explain how paradoxical utterances like “the greatest Ukrainians in Crimea are the Crimean Tatars” can become meaningful. According to Finnin, such a metaphor can only operate if there is resonance in the audience, i.e. if there is already a common ground in the experiences of both communities. The commemoration of victims of Polish, Russian and Soviet rulers provides such a ground. The reception of the poem “Tog’’aibei” plays a decisive role in this process of commemoration. The poet and archaeologist Osman Akchokrakly discovered this text in 1925 during field research. He attributed it to the poet Dzhanmukhamad, who lived in the 17th century. In “Tog’’aibei”, solidarity between the Cossacks and the Crimean Khan vis-à-vis the Polish threat is a key trope. The reference to this poem was a means to express Ukrainian-Tatar solidarity equally for later generations of writers and poets, for instance for Shamil Aliadin.

The discussion after the lecture was very intense and fruitful. It concerned in particular the question of what is a metaphor and when it is appropriate to use this term. Some participants of the discussion doubted whether showing solidarity to someone can be considered a metaphor. Crimean Tatars, today, have the Ukrainian citizenship and are therefore Ukrainians, not only in a metaphorical way. Other discussants wondered if there are – beyond the commemoration of common victimhood – other topics that bridge the Crimean Tatar and the Ukrainian literature.


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