We in the Department of Sociology at York University, where we often teach about the devastating consequences of war, violence, trauma, and displacement, are outraged by the shameless and brutal invasion of the Russian army into Ukraine.
Among us are students, staff, and faculty with personal and family ties to Ukraine, who are deeply affected by the recent unfolding of events. The current military onslaught is utterly devastating and traumatizing.
As sociologists, we condemn this unprovoked act of aggression while standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and everyone else, across borders, who act in support of movements for democracy and social change.
We are very concerned about civilian casualties and the disruption and destruction of civil life and infrastructure that will be the consequence of this war. We join the Canadian Labour Congress in its call for the Canadian government to provide immediate humanitarian assistance and visa-free access for Ukrainians to Canada.
As sociologists, we also support the call for humanitarian assistance and for Canada to press Russia to immediately end all hostilities, allow free press and independent journalism, adhere to international human rights obligations and undertake a path of dialogue and diplomacy. We are encouraged to see that neighboring countries are opening their borders to refugees, but are troubled by news reports that indicate how Africans and other racialized people are treated as second-class citizens and refugees.
As critical scholars and as a social justice-oriented community, we are acutely aware that humanitarianism and human rights are not innocent, as they have often been used as geopolitical tools and symbolic politics. We have just seen in Afghanistan and Syria how people and communities have been left on their own to deal with statelessness, lawlessness, injustice, hunger, and starvation.
As painful as this moment is, we must use it as an opportunity to push for practices of global solidarity. In other words, we must raise attention to the unequal treatment of all those affected by war and violence: refugees and stateless people around the globe, especially in the Global South. Our conversations on anti-Black racism and global racism urge us that we draw these connections now, in this moment.
We express our solidarity with the people of Ukraine as well as non-governmental actors and social movements in the region, who support and sustain the aims of a global civil society. As much as this is a regional conflict with global dimensions, it is part of a global phenomenon with regional outbursts. At this time of global social inequality and uncertainty, there is a need to support cross-border alliances that defy the poisonous politics of nationalism, militarism, corporatism, xenophobia, fascism, sexism, and homophobia.
Similarly, we express our concerns over the new cold war rhetoric, including NATO expansionism, and enhanced militarization of Europe’s borders. While understandable in the light of the current war and Russian occupation, we demand that all actors return to a path of demilitarization, democratization, and peaceful cooperation. Moreover, we call on all parties to adhere to international law in all cases.
We recognize that students, faculty, and staff may be affected by this conflict. The Department of Sociology will do what we can to provide needed supports and accommodations during this evolving situation.
If you want to support the people of Ukraine in these difficult times, please consider a donation to one of the following local organizations:
For students seeking support, please visit the Student Counselling, Health & Wellbeing Site or use the opportunity for a walk-in counselling:
Endorsed by the Department of Sociology, York University