New Geography of the Ukrainian Institute: Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia

The Ukrainian Institute (UI), Ukraine’s cultural diplomacy institution, at the International Cultural Diplomacy Forum in London, has announced the launch of activities in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Since proclaiming its independence, Ukraine has primarily focused its diplomatic efforts on neighbouring countries. However, Russia’s full-scale invasion highlighted the importance of developing relations with countries where Russia’s deep influence has made gaining support for Ukraine difficult. In response, the Ukrainian Institute began exploring opportunities for cooperation with countries of  Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia in the context of cultural diplomacy, particularly in the areas of culture, academia, and civil society.

“Ukraine had limited contacts with Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. The goal of our team is to revive Ukraine’s relations with the creative ecosystems of these regions through dialogue and cultural cooperation. We aim to tap into the potential for collaboration based on shared challenges, interests, and values,” says Alim Aliev, Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Institute.

Починаємо роботу з Латинською Америкою, Субсахарською Африкою та Південно-Східною Азією

The Ukrainian Institute will focus on Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria in Sub-Saharan Africa; Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico in Latin America; and India and Indonesia in Asia. Currently, it is engaged in research and strategy development, forming a group of experts to understand the cultural particularities of these regions and identify effective approaches to cooperation.

“The development of cultural cooperation with Sub-Saharan Africa provides an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen dialogue among people who have shared similar traumatic experiences, from colonial history to armed conflicts and wars. Joint cultural projects, visits, exhibitions, and concerts will allow us to find common ground and strengthen the sense of solidarity and empathy between our societies, overcoming geographical distance,”

said Anastasiia Kapranova, Programme Expert for Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa.

“We share much more in common with Latin America than just the economic consequences of the Washington Consensus. Let’s remember the forced adoption of children of opponents of the Argentine dictatorship, writer Clarice Lispector, decolonisation of art, Mayanist Yuri Knorozov, the shared nature of Midsummer (Ivan Kupala) and Fiesta de San Juan, the spaces of freedom of Brazilian ‘quilombos,’ and the Cossack Sich,”

added Oskar Slushchenko, Programme Expert for Argentina, Brazil, Mexico.

The team has already joined the first studio visits to Brazil and South Africa and hosted a delegation from Indonesia. The first collaboration in the new geography was the International Book Fair in Guadalajara (Mexico), which featured book presentations, a contemporary art exhibition and discussions with Ukrainian writers, diplomats and artists. The Ukrainian programme was incorporated into the European Union pavilion, organised by the EU Delegation to Mexico, in collaboration with the Embassy of Ukraine in Mexico. The literature programme was executed in partnership with the Ukrainian Book Institute, with the Ukrainian Institute as a media partner.