Narrating the Conflict – A Graphic-Novel-Project about the War in Donbas

The conflict in Donbas has been going on for three years now. Hostilities, violence and human rights violations have left deep traces in Ukrainian society.

The project, initiated by Libereco and the Coalition “Justice for Peace in Donbas” aims to give the victims of this violence a voice. Together a group of civil society activists and artists are creating a graphic novel about fear and hardship, choices and hopes.


The basis for the pictures and stories are authentic accounts. The participants conduct biographical interviews with people who are directly affected by the conflict and develop the graphic novel from these. In this way, the complexity of the conflict and its drastic influence on peoples’ lives can be captured.


Exercise: Listening and Imagining

At our first meeting in early April 2017 in the Ukrainian town of Chernihiv, we focussed intensively on Oral History, particularly on the technique of life trajectory interviews. Most participants are already familiar with interviewing as they participate in the documentation of human rights violations in the context of the conflict. However, the biographical method, focusing not on events but on the person who experienced them and presented by Historian Imke Hansen, was largely new to everyone. The group had a lively debate on how to integrate elements of this technique into the stressful and time-limited everyday life of documentation.

Exercise: Whose story do we want to tell?

Many participants originally come from Donbas. Their personal proximity to the conflict became visible in many controversial discussions. However the group agreed that the conflict is not black and white, and the graphic novel should show its multifaceted character.

How does the conflict impact people?

In mid-May the group will meet again in Berlin, to continue the work with the graphic novel and to discuss possibilities of Civic Education by means of graphic novels.


The project is financed by the German Foreign Office and supported by the Ukraine-Calling-Programme of the Europa-University Viadrina, the Robert Bosch Foundation and the German Association of Researchers of Ukraine.

Project manager: Imke Hansen, imke.hansen[at]lphr.org
Coordination: Anne Reis, anne.reis[at]lphr.org

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