The ESA Executive Committee statement on the war in Ukraine


More than any other time, we – human inhabitants of the Earth – are in the either/or situation: we face joining either hands, or common graves. (1)


So wrote Zygmunt Bauman in Retrotopia, his final message to the world. Half a decade later – under the circumstances in which our global, ever-shrinking world finds itself currently – these words are especially pertinent and poignant. We stand with our colleagues in Ukraine; we join hands with Ukrainians in their homeland and in the diaspora growing with every minute.

The ESA abhors the Russian armed invasion of its neighbour, Ukraine. In its first week, the war has already incurred striking human loss and tragedy. This is an unprecedented and unacceptable breach of international agreements and standards of reciprocity. We stand clearly on the side of the victims of the aggression, the people of Ukraine; at the same time, we recognize that the perpetrator is not the people of Russia, but the Kremlin.

The ESA was established in the hope that free and critical inquiry among peers would contribute to the encouragement of peaceful and productive relations among peoples. This war shatters the foundations of social trust, without which research and learning are inconceivable. Yet we remain steadfast in our will to continue our work to deepen knowledge, to better inform both government policy and human understanding, and to forge paths to coexistence, not conquest. These hostilities compel all people of good will – and especially all of us as social science scholars – to enhance insight into the root causes of political violence, no matter its sources or motivation.

We hold in high regard Ukraine’s sovereignty and statehood which rests on the ideals of a democratic society. We have great esteem, too, for the protests registered in the words of Russian scholars and in the actions of Russian citizens in the streets. Today, it is all the more important to act in the spirit of our shared knowledge and experience. Standing in solidarity with those affected, we stretch out our hands to join all who support individual and collective freedom – lest we dig our common graves.

9 March 2022



1 Z. Bauman, Retrotopia, Cambridge 2017, Polity Press, p. 167