PoM Pontica Magna
As an alumnus of the Black Sea Link and Pontica Magna Fellowship Programme throughout my Return Research Stay at NEC during the academic year 2018-2019, I intend to work on the topic connected with my prior research undertaken within NEC program (one semester in 2016). Back then I was working on the text “Seeking the Barbarians”, where I described stereotypes about the Other, who lived on the opposite side of the border (countries of the Back Sea region) dating from Ovid’s times to nowadays. Throughout my work on this research, there was a secondary (though no less interesting) offside of the topic – smuggling. This phenomenon usually receives only negative characteristics as the violation of law, and customs rules as well as is severely prosecuted in all countries of the region.
However, it is curious that smuggling exists only where there are borders, otherwise it loses any meaning and profitability. As the European experience demonstrates, smuggling disappears along with the disappearance of the borders. For instance, smuggling used to flourish at the Polish-German border at one time, but since Poland joined the EU and the Schengen Area, it has disappeared. Consequently, it can be assumed that after the accession of the Black Sea region to the Schengen Area, smuggling will also disappear there.
But as long as it exists, we still have a unique chance to study and investigate the phenomenon of smuggling itself. In many cases, smuggling is a form of natural cross-border cooperation between people on both sides of the border. Governments and NGOs are making a lot of effort to develop cross-border cooperation, they invest money and resources, but their attempts do not always have successful outcome. Instead, smuggling is a natural – although illegal – bridge between the population on both sides of the border.
During my Pontica Magna Fellowship (five months starting in March 2016), I intend to achieve three goals, the main of which is a book about the “territory of Ovid” as I metaphorically refer to the Central-Eastern region of Europe. Another equally important goal for me is to discover contemporary Romania, its culture and socio-political life, and familiarise with intellectual, scientific, artistic and political circles, students and youth. Thirdly, during my fellowship I intend to continue writing articles and columns for press. As a columnist for several leading Ukrainian media (including “Radio Liberty/Free Europe”, the largest Ukrainian newspaper “Den'” and several online news services) I will be writing regular pieces about my stay in Romania, thus encouraging Ukrainian readers to take a new look at a neighboring country, its experience of post-communist transformation, reform and integration into the European Union.