Notable in Ukrainian academic circles were topics such as the Holodomor, Ukrainian-Jewish relations and history, and the role of women in politics, society and culture.
Author Anne Applebaum was interviewed on January 16 by Marta Baziuk, executive director of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta), about her latest book, “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine.” Ms. Applebaum reflected on the overwhelmingly positive response the book received in the U.S. and U.K press, as well as across European states, with translations in French, Italian and Portuguese editions released in the fall of 2019.
The discussion noted that challenges remain in the Holodomor being accepted as a genocide internationally (which Ms. Applebaum separated from her book to not take a stance on the matter, but personally identifies the Holodomor as a genocide). For many scholars, Ms. Applebaum said, there does not exist a piece of paper that says Stalin wanted to kill a lot of Ukrainians, but the evidence shows the Stalin knew what was going on, and laws and policies were adjusted to deepen the famine conditions in Ukraine. The long-term challenge is for books like “Red Famine” and others to be incorporated in courses on Soviet history.
Jewish-Ukrainian relations were explored in a landmark discussion on January 29 at the Jewish Community Center JW3 in London. The panelists included Prof. Yaroslav Hrytsak, Josef Zissels and Mark Freiman, with moderator Peter Pomerantsev. The event was organized by the Ukrainian Institute London and was sponsored by the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter. A major turning point was how a new Jewish Ukrainian identity emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Ukrainian state in 1991, but this was not realized until 2004 and the Orange Revolution and more importantly, the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014. Anti-Semitism in Ukraine has been on the decline, said Prof. Hrytsak, as evidenced by the lack of political support for right-wing nationalist parties. Issues of historical memory surrounding figures such as Stepan Bandera were also discussed. Bandera, as a leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, fought both the Nazis and the Soviets and sat in a Nazi concentration camp, stressed Prof. Hrytsak. Dr. Zissels underscored that figures such as Bandera and Roman Shukhevych (commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army) are glorified as heroes who fought for an independent Ukraine, and are not celebrated for killing Jews. Ukrainians, Dr. Zissels added, risked their lives to hide Jews from the Nazis.
Feminist scholar Oksana Kis’s presentation, “Ukrainian Women in the Gulag: When Survival Meant Victory,” was held on January 31 in Toronto. She applied the theories and methods of feminist anthropology to explore traditional Ukrainian society, with a focus on the pre-industrial Ukrainian village life and its belief system, social norms and traditions, definition of a woman’s rights and duties, and female roles in family and society. Her conclusions showed that Ukrainian culture was essentially patriarchal, with power, authority and resources in the hands of men. Her research also examined the role of women during the Holodomor and in the gulag experiences. The event was sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center and co-sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta and St. Vladimir Institute of Toronto. Dr. Kis is a historian and anthropologist working as a senior research associate at the Institute of Ethnology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, in Lviv. She is president of the Ukrainian Association for Research in Women’s History and is editor-in-chief of the academic website Ukraina Moderna. Dr. Kis noted the expansion of publications available in Ukraine today, as compared to 20-plus years ago, and the expansion of feminism scholarship in Ukraine, and pointed out that much of this would not be possible without foreign donations and international support. Continued reforms in the education and academic systems were needed to modernize the field of study and scholarly opportunities.
Fifteen rare Ukrainian dictionaries, totaling 22 volumes, were presented to the Library of Congress on March 21 during the program “Celebration of Leadership in a Rule of Law Country” that was sponsored by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. Presenting the dictionaries were Liudmyla Mazuka, wife of Ambassador to the U.S. Valery Chaly, and Embassy staffers. Receiving the donation were Grant Harris, chief of the European Division, Regina Frackowiak and Jurij Dobczansky. The dictionaries were reprints of originals from the 1920s.
Five of the volumes were sponsored by the Kyiv-City Rotary Club; the other 10 were published by the Ukrainian Language Institute and the Institute of Encyclopedic Research, both of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The Library of Congress has some 900 dictionaries and only had one of the original publications, acquired in 1930 – the year of its publication. The first 10 volumes of the “Dictionary Heritage” series cover topics such as chemistry, education, business, medicine, manufacturing, geology, mining, music, proverbs, geodesy and physics.
Dr. Taras Hunczak’s latest book, “Ukraine in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries: The Unending Complexities of Survival,” a collection of scholarly essays, was presented on March 24 at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey in Whippany. Dr. Hunczak is professor emeritus of history at Rutgers University. His latest book deals with Ukraine’s pursuit of sovereignty and statehood during the periods of World War I, the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1021, the interwar period and World War II. The presentation was organized by the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S. (UVAN) and sponsored by the Morris County N.J., branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and Selfreliance Federal Credit Union in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Ukraine’s proclamation of independence in 1918. Other scholars participating in the presentation were Dr. Albert Kipa, president of UVAN, Dr. Leonid Rudnytzky, president of the World Council of Shevchenko Scientific Societies, Dr. Mark Thomas, professor of political science at LaSalle University, and Dr. Walter Zarycky, executive director of the Center for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations. The book was noted for the “12 thorny subjects,” including the Holodomor, examined and explained by Dr. Hunczak.
It was reported in March that the film of the 1983 international symposium on the 1933 Famine in Ukraine (held on March 25-26, 1983, in Montreal), was restored and preserved by Yurij and Zorianna Luhovy. Mr. Luhovy and Peter Blysczak had filmed the symposium in 1983, and the medium – U-MATIC ¾” videotape – was discontinued. As the film was in danger of disintegrating and disappearing, it was transferred to DVD and color-corrected. The symposium was significant in that scholars examined not only the agricultural and farming casualties that were the main target, but also the destruction of the Ukrainian national elites, the Churches, language, culture – “all the qualities that made Ukrainians a nation and a culture,” said Dr. Roman Serbyn.
The symposium was sponsored by the University of Montreal, McGill University, Concordia University and Universite du Quebec a Montreal, as well as the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta. The restoration donors included the Ukrainian National Federation, Montreal Branch; La Caisse Populaire Desjardins Ukrainienne de Montreal; the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta; Shevchenko Foundation Ukrainian War Veterans’ Fund; Ucranica Research Institute; Buduchnist Credit Union Foundation and others.
Ukrainian-Jewish relations were discussed on March 28 at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York, with a focus on the new book by Dr. Paul Robert Magocsi and Dr. Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence.” The event was sponsored by the UIA and the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter. The discussion touched on a number of important issues related to how Ukrainians and Jews from Ukrainian lands view each other, and how that relationship has developed over the centuries. A major focus was how Ukrainian territory had been in the control of invading empires over the centuries – it was noted that Ukraine’s defined borders were more of a 20th century concept – and how Jewish identity played into that territorial shift and Ukrainian national identity. Moderator Adrian Karatnycky noted that Jewish Hassidism considers Ukraine as its cradle of development, with many prominent leaders coming from Ukraine, and he spoke of the millions killed in Ukraine during the Holocaust (Jews and non-Jews alike). Discussion also focused on investigations by scholars into the state archives about suspected Nazi collaborators during the second world war, but the scholars cautioned that historical context and balance were important.
Ambassador to the U.S. Valery Chaly spoke at Harvard University on April 15 about the important geopolitical role of Ukraine. He highlighted the importance of Ukraine’s bilateral relationship with the U.S., and explained how that relationship plays out in the latest developments in the ongoing war with Russia in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Ukraine gets 92 percent of its military support for the U.S., he said, adding that some 200 troops from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division were arriving in Ukraine for training exercises. The U.S. Navy, he said, had sent ships into the Black Sea to reduce destabilization in the area by Russia. The ambassador also explained the situation in Crimea and Russia’s militarization of the peninsula since it was annexed by Russia in 2014.
The National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA) held its 25th jubilee convocation in Kyiv on June 28, Constitution Day in Ukraine. This was the largest graduating class from the university since 1991, with 646 undergraduates, 366 post-graduates, 55 MBAs and four Ph.D.s. The keynote speaker, Roman Nabozhnyak, a 2013 graduate, who is a musician, entrepreneur, ATO veteran and co-founder of the café Veterano Brownie, drew loud applause. He stated: “…Do not be afraid to go all in at everything – your love, your family and your favorite passion. And do it without the expectation to receive anything in return. Because nobody owes you anything. Look for great challenges in life, and never forget to ask yourself this question, ‘What can I do?’” The Mykola Kravets Award for “practical contribution to the development of Ukraine” was presented to Oleh Dykyj, who received a Master of Law degree. Mr. Dykyj noted the struggle for freedom was tied to the wish to build a strong society through the Alumni Association of NaUKMA, which would continue to benefit Ukraine.
In September, readers learned about Dr. Oleh Wolowyna’s latest book, “Atlas of Ukrainians in the United States: Demographic and Socio-economic Characteristics.” A book review by Wsevolod W. Isajiw hailed the book as “perhaps one of the first comprehensive atlases of an ethnic group in the U.S.A.” with 380 maps, 15 figures and three tables. The atlas provides a thorough picture of the historical and current demographic socioeconomic status of the Ukrainian community from the first wave of immigration in 1899 up until very recently in 2010. The maps were made possible by the Center for Demographic and Socio-Economic Research of Ukrainian in the United States at the Shevchenko Scientific Society, directed by Dr. Wolowyna. The atlas covers historical migration, recent immigration from Ukraine, internal migration, population distribution by state and in over 55 metropolitan areas, with percentages of Fourth Wave and of those speaking Ukrainian at home. The wealth of information in this book is of service to all Ukrainian community organizations, as the old centers of the community shift to new areas of the U.S. and reflects the current reality.
Following the death of Prof. Dmytro Shtohryn on September 25, his daughter, Dr. Liudoslava Shtohryn, reminded our readers about the Dmytro Shtohryn Endowment in Ukrainian Studies in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. [Editor’s note: The endowment was actually established in 2017.] The endowment for the department is targeted for conferences, symposia, individual lectures and other learning opportunities on the topic of Ukrainian studies. Prof. Shtohyrn, professor of library administration and the first head of the Slavic and East European Library, was credited with establishing Ukrainian studies as a discipline at the university.
On October 1, the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC), a project of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, announced the 2019 winner of the HREC Educator Prize for Holodomor Lesson Plan Development. The winning lesson plan, titled “Holodomor – Three Issues to Examine (High School Edition),” has students apply their critical thinking to comparing the patterns of three factors related to a better understanding of the Holodomor, utilizing current geographically mapped research data.
Manor College in Jenkintown, Pa., hosted a dialogue on the topic “Emerging Women in Politics in, of, and for Ukraine” on October 11. The featured speakers included Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), a member of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, and Myroslava Gongadze, chief of the Ukrainian Service at Voice of America, with Manor College president, Dr. Jonathan Peri, as moderator. Ms. Gongadze explained her rise as a voice in Ukraine after the murder of her husband, Heorhiy Gongadze, in 2000 that propelled her to the spotlight. She said she made a decision to use her knowledge to raise awareness about corruption and fraud. Her role with Voice of America has sought balance and fairness, for both men and women. Rep. Dean spoke of the need for diversity related to men and women at the discussion table. Although women’s rights are enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, as it is in the U.S., she said there remains an ongoing struggle to make it reflected in practice. Ms. Gongadze also advocated for women to take up roles in U.S. politics, the need for Ukrainians to speak up for themselves in the media coverage of Ukraine and Ukrainians, and the necessity for Ukraine to be covered from Ukraine, not Moscow or Washington.
The spring courses offered by the Ukrainian Studies Program at Columbia University were announced in January, and included two history courses led by visiting scholar Dr. Johannes Remy, “Introduction to the History of Ukraine” and “Ukraine in the Russian and Habsburg Empires.” Other offerings were Dr. Mark Andryczyk’s literary course on “‘Brand New’ Creating Identity in Contemporary Ukrainian Culture,” Ambassador Valery Kuchynskyi’s “Today’s Ukraine: Power, Politics and Diplomacy,” and Ukrainian language instruction by Dr. Yuri Shevchuk, elementary, intermediate and advanced. The program also hosted film screenings through the Ukrainian Film Club at Columbia University, and presentations by Ukrainian scholars.
Columbia’s fall course offerings in the Ukrainian Studies Program included art history taught by Dr. Olena Martyniuk and visiting Fulbright scholars Drs. Oksana Remaniaka and Dr. Maria Shuvalova, as well as Dr. Motyl’s “Ukraine in New York” course, Ambassador Kuchynskyi’s “Ukrainian Foreign Policy: Russia, Europe and the U.S.,” Ukrainian language instruction by Dr. Yuri Shevchuk and his film study, “Soviet, Post-Soviet, Colonial and Postcolonial Cinema.” Events scheduled for the fall included: a literary roundtable, “Envisioning Ukrainian Literature 2019, Part II” with Irene Zabytko, Dr. Motyl, Dzvinia Orlowsky, Olena Jennings and Mark Andryczyk; a talk by Dr. Kis, “Remaining a Ukrainian Woman: Normative Femininity as ‘Armor’ in the Gulag”; and a two-day conference, “Five Years of War in the Donbas: Cultural Responses and Reverberations” with The Ukrainian Museum and the Ukrainian Film Club at Columbia University.