The Power of Translocal Cultural Heritage in the Polish-Ukrainian Borderland

  • Karri Kiiskinen, MA, Doctoral Student University of Turku
Keywords: cultural heritage, borders, cross-border co-operation, European Union, cultural tensions, visions, localization


It is in the interest of the enlarged Community to ensure that the borders with its neighbours are not a barrier to trade, social and cultural interchange or regional cooperation (EC Regulation No 1931/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 laying down rules on local border traffic at the external land borders of the Member States and amending the provisions of the Schengen Convention).

It is not only the tragic events of the 20th century but also the changes in the recent few years that have to be taken into account when assessing cultural processes in the present Polish-Ukrainian borderland. After a long period of strict border controls under the communist regime, the Ukrainian independence in 1991 started a period of frequent border crossings, even for local borderland people. When in 2003 as a project worker I could walk on the Polish bank of the border river Bug and notice a hidden bicycle in the bushes, suggesting perhaps of an unofficial border crossing route, in the region the hopes and fears concerning the soon to come changes in the border regime were many. At the time, the high tech border surveillance systems to be installed there existed only on the pages of some newspapers and magazines. However, in 2004 Poland became a member of the European Union and the Ukraine had its Orange Revolution. As I set out to study the region in 2005, some of the earlier fears and hopes had been realized, but at least by the implementation of the Schengen treaty in December 2007 it was clear that all kinds of cross-border mobility became increasingly regulated. There is thus an  increasing demand for legitimate practices for border-crossings. This move towards increasing regulation and control has called for a balancing act. From the EU perspective one way to achieve this is through its cross-border cooperation instruments that offer significant funding for local actors in implementing cross-border cooperation projects. These cross-border activities illustrate not only the influence of the EU, but also the new economic patterns related to projects as well as the changes in the role of local institutions and civil socicty.

How to Cite
Kiiskinen, K. (1). The Power of Translocal Cultural Heritage in the Polish-Ukrainian Borderland. Ethnologia Fennica, 35, 16-30. Retrieved from