On January third, the feminist thinker Irina Zherebkina texted me that she was leaving Kharkiv, Ukraine. All through the warfare, I had been studying her essays and Fb posts about every day life underneath bombardment. Now, she advised me, she and her husband and co-author, Sergey, have been packing cardboard bins. They would go away as quickly as their cat, Keti, was medically cleared to journey to the UK. When Keti was cleared, Irina wrote that they would go away as quickly as they bought an airline-approved tender cat service. Then she wrote that, though a bomb had simply destroyed a constructing two doorways down from them, that they had been unable to trade their previous Soviet-issue driver’s licenses for worldwide ones, and so they’d go away as soon as that they had executed so. Then she wrote that they’d go away as quickly as she herself had some medical exams. Then they’d go away after she bought some dental work executed. After I travelled to Kharkiv in February, simply earlier than the primary anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Irina was nonetheless there, modifying her journal of the primary 12 months of the warfare, which an Italian writer was going to launch. As quickly as she was executed, she and Sergey would go away, she advised me.
Irina and Sergey, who’re sixty-three and sixty-five, respectively, dwell in a conspicuously neat and vivid residence in central Kharkiv. They’ve a white eating desk, white couches, and white built-in bookcases, which appear to alleviate the heft of books, shelved tightly and stacked on most surfaces. The primary time I visited, Irina had a burn on her cheek. Throughout a latest energy outage, she had slipped whereas utilizing a candle to gentle her technique to the toilet.
Earlier than the warfare, the Zherebkins didn’t know their neighbors. The constructing was heavy with the rich and the effectively linked, together with a number of retired high-ranking army officers, and the philosophers didn’t really feel at house amongst them. However as soon as the warfare started the few individuals who remained within the constructing fashioned tight bonds. They pooled their assets to get meals when most shops have been closed and venturing exterior was perilous. Throughout air raids, a neighbor generally took shelter within the Zherebkins’ residence—they’ve an enormous lavatory with out home windows. Like everybody in Kharkiv, the couple had discovered to tell apart sorts of munitions by ear, and had established a hierarchy amongst them. Grad rockets, which make a terrifying whistling sound earlier than impression, are extra scary than S-300 rockets, though the S-300 does extra harm. It makes its presence identified solely when it hits, with a loud bang: there isn’t a time for dread.
Within the early days of the warfare, Irina wrote an essay within the Boston Evaluation, inserting Vladimir Putin’s warfare within the context of what the thinker Judith Butler has referred to as “new fascism,” a world phenomenon that legalizes the “freedom to hate.” Irina referred to as on the world to not conflate Putin and the Russian individuals, a lot of whom, she argued, didn’t assist the warfare. It was vital to reclaim and rejuvenate the concepts of solidarity and internationalism with a view to struggle Putin, she wrote.
Two days after the essay was printed, a rocket hit near the Zherebkins’ residence constructing, and so they determined to depart town. They drove out to the countryside, within the course of their dacha, a modest weekend cottage, however a bridge alongside their route had been blown up—they later discovered that Ukrainian forces had destroyed it to make passage harder for the Russian troops. Irina and Sergey ended up in a home that belonged to an acquaintance. A number of different households have been additionally staying there, every occupying a bed room. Not like their dacha, the constructing had warmth and working water. They encountered a form of warfare fever within the countryside, a efficiency of warfare. Native males had placed on uniforms and armed themselves. In anticipation of battle, some spent their days consuming and exchanging information. This was within the spring of 2022, when information appeared significant, when the course of the warfare appeared unpredictable, at first, together with bombs, turned monotonous. After a month, Irina and Sergey returned house, to Kharkiv.
By then, Butler had learn Irina’s essay, and proposed co-hosting a web-based worldwide feminist convention on the warfare. With Sabine Hark, a German sociologist, they envisioned a panel of audio system that would come with Ukrainian feminists, Western supporters, and Russian and Belarusian antiwar dissidents. Some Ukrainian feminists objected to together with Russians and Belarusians. Within the lead-up to the convention, arguments grew heated. Irina’s message about solidarity, internationalism, anti-nationalism, and nonviolence had impressed the occasion, however in wartime it all of the sudden appeared lower than apparent. Ultimately, the convention included one Russian and one Belarusian participant.
Irina grew up in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. She had wished to be a thinker since she was in seventh grade. “She wished to alter the construction of society,” Sergey stated. They met at college, in Kyiv, and ultimately discovered their mental house with a gaggle of philosophers led by Valery Podoroga, a prolific postmodernist scholar whose former graduate college students are actually a few of Russia’s best-known philosophers. After the Soviet Union broke aside, and even after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, Irina and Sergey maintained relationships with colleagues and mates in Moscow, and continued to write down and publish in Russian. A lot to their aid, none of their Russian mates have supported Putin’s warfare. They really feel aid, too, that Podoroga didn’t dwell to see this warfare: he died in 2020.
“For him, Michel Foucault was a very powerful author,” Irina stated.
“His ‘Self-discipline and Punish’ was a very powerful e-book,” Sergey stated.
“And now they are saying Foucault is ‘propaganda of homosexuality,’ ” Irina stated, referring to Russian propaganda that’s been used, amongst different issues, to justify the warfare in Ukraine.
After college, Sergey bought a job educating in Kharkiv; Irina joined him there just a few years later. In 1994, she co-founded the Heart for Gender Research at Kharkiv Nationwide College, which she modelled on gender-studies facilities at American and British universities. She assumed that it might be one among many such facilities within the post-Soviet, post-totalitarian world—none of Russia’s greatest universities had gender-studies packages—however the middle in Kharkiv remained one among solely a handful. Irina, Sergey, and their colleagues translated foundational Western texts into Russian, and Irina co-founded a summer season college in gender research that occurred in Crimea and drew contributors from Ukraine, Russia, different former Soviet colonies, and past. Kharkiv is a metropolis of universities and schools—greater than forty of them—and was, earlier than the warfare, house to tons of of hundreds of scholars, together with tens of hundreds who got here from different international locations. The middle thrived there.
9 years in the past, Irina had a stroke. She believes it was her physique’s response to the information of the primary loss of life on the protests that in the end led to the Revolution of Dignity. Irina heard that the sufferer, a younger man of Armenian descent, had been shot at the back of the top, and he or she feared that he’d been shot by one of many different protesters. (No proof that this was the case has since emerged.) She collapsed.
“Many individuals died of coronary heart assaults at the moment,” Sergey stated.
“Two of our neighbors have died of coronary heart assaults since this warfare began,” Irina stated.
Now, as a feminist thinker and an anti-nationalist residing in and fascinated with warfare, Irina was troubled by feminist colleagues’ rush to mobilize round nationalist rhetoric. She was additionally unsettled by some well-meaning international supporters. In Might, the thinker Paul B. Preciado got here out in opposition to supplying arms to Ukraine. “We don’t must ship weapons,” Preciado wrote. “We have to ship peace delegations to Russia and Ukraine. We should peacefully occupy Kiev, Lviv, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Odessa. All of us must go. Solely hundreds of thousands of non-Ukrainian and unarmed corps can win this warfare.” Writing on Fb, Irina acknowledged that Preciado’s proposed technique was in step with Butler’s philosophy of nonviolence, however objected that the proposed technique “implied a discriminatory, racist division of human lives into ‘Ukrainian’ and ‘non-Ukrainian,’ these which can be extra and fewer vital, or, in Butler’s phrases, extra and fewer grievable.” By suggesting that Putin wouldn’t bomb hundreds of thousands of “non-Ukrainians,” Preciado gave the impression to be conceding that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been bombable. (“I’ve by no means objected to Ukrainian self-defense,” Butler advised me. The convention “was very troublesome for individuals who espoused nonviolence, as a result of we additionally noticed the need of Ukrainian army self-defense in opposition to Russian aggression. If the implication is that I, like Preciado, object to sending arms to Ukraine, that might be emphatically mistaken.”)
After the invasion, the college went absolutely on-line. (Some lessons had been digital because the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic.) All of Irina’s graduate college students, a lot of whom have kids, left Kharkiv—some to go overseas, others for safer components of the nation. Worldwide college students left the nation, too. This, in flip, meant that the college misplaced a lot of its funding. In August, 2022, the college didn’t renew her contract. Quickly after Irina misplaced her job, the London College of Economics supplied her a place. She anxious this meant that, as a tutorial from war-torn Ukraine, she was now, as she put it to me in a textual content, a “marketable commodity.”
Supply By https://www.newyorker.com/information/dispatch/a-ukrainian-philosophers-reluctant-departure-from-kharkiv
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