Phantom Borders – Historical Conditions of Political and Socio-Economic Cleavages of Contemporary Ukraine

  • Libor Jelen
  • Petr Dostál
Keywords: Ukraine, phantom borders, election results, regional differences, nonparametric test


The term phantom border or region is used in current political-geographic literature to describe situations in which the original political boundaries in a region are abolished de jure, but still appear in the form of different social and political cleavages within the population, even though the historical continuity of the settlement may have already been disturbed. Ukraine is a very good case for studying this effect for its complicated territorial development. The contribution analyses historical conditions of current political, cultural and socio-economic structures in Ukraine. It uses statistical tests to verify the occurrence of the so-called phantom boundary effect – whether the original historical boundaries correspond to the spatial patterns of current political and socioeconomic differences of the Ukrainian society. The analysis partially confirmed the existence of phantom boundaries in Ukraine’s political and cultural-demographic aspects, but in a number of economic characteristics the phantom effect could not be found.

Author Biographies

Libor Jelen
who was born in 1975, graduated from the Political and Regional Geography program at the Faculty of Science of Charles University, where he has also been teaching as an assistant professor since 2013. In his research he studies issues of nationalism, ethnic conflicts and geopolitics in the post-Soviet space. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Geograficke rozhledy.
Petr Dostál
who was born in 1947, graduated from the Social Geography program at the State University of Groningen, and he received his Ph.D. from the Faculty of Economics and Econometrics of the University of Amsterdam, where he also taught Social and Economic Geography courses as an assistant professor and an associate professor in the Department of Social Geography from 1972 to 1998. Since 1990, he has taught at the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development of Charles University’s Faculty of Science, where he obtained his doctorate in Regional Development and Spatial Planning in 1992 and became a Professor of Social Geography in 1998. He has studied and extensively published on cultural, political and economic aspects of the transformation of the former Soviet Union, the European Union, and the countries of post-communist Europe.