The Ukrainian community saw a productive year in the academic realm with myriad symposia, roundtables and initiatives aimed at furthering understanding of Ukrainians’ history and national identity, as well as current developments in Ukraine.
Especially noteworthy throughout 2016 were the 40th anniversary commemorations of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS). Founded at the University of Alberta in 1976, CIUS has expanded over the decades to comprise programs in Canada and, after 1991, in Ukraine. To celebrate this milestone, the CIUS organized a series of events throughout Canada.
On October 1, representatives from the CIUS offered a presentation at a session of the XXV Congress of Ukrainian Canadians being held in Regina, Saskatchewan. Titled “40th Anniversary of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies: Past Present and Future,” the session included talks by Jars Balan, coordinator, Kule Ukrainian Canadian Studies Center; Bohdan Klid, assistant director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies; Volodymyr Kravchenko, CIUS director; and Alla Nedashkivska, director of the Ukrainian Language Education Center.
Later that month, on October 14-15, CIUS hosted a two-day conference titled “Ukrainian Studies in Canada: Texts and Contexts” at the University of Alberta, where the dean of the Faculty of Arts, Lesley Comack, called the CIUS “a jewel in the Faculty of Arts.” About 125 people attended the conference, and around 600 others viewed it live online from around the world.
In his keynote address, Bishop Borys Gudziak, spoke of the impact of CIUS in Canada and abroad, especially in Ukraine. The featured speaker, Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, emphasized the importance of the work that institutions such as CIUS have done for the development of Ukrainian identity. Thirty scholars and community figures from across Canada and abroad reviewed the history of the institute and the development of Ukrainian studies as an interdisciplinary field. In five roundtable sessions, they discussed the challenges and opportunities confronted by scholars in Ukrainian studies due to the changing intellectual landscape of the humanities, the corporatization of universities and fiscal constraints.
Also to celebrate its 40th anniversary, CIUS published a full-color commemorative overview titled “CIUS: Forty Years of Excellence.” The beautifully designed 56-page “ruby jubilee” publication was available in hard copy as well as online.
A major endeavor at CIUS, the Digital Archive Project – which aims to digitize, systematize and describe the core publications of the institute that have been produced over the last 40 years – made great progress. As of December 2016, the CIUS Digital Archive Project website contains the following materials: 33 books published by CIUS Press; 65 research reports; all the back issues of the Journal of Ukrainian Studies; all the back issues of the CIUS Newsletter; and other materials, including a complete set of CIUS press releases. The project is ongoing and will ultimately include video materials, including recordings of lectures, conferences and symposia; and digitized copies of important historical documents. The website of the CIUS Digital Archive Project is http://cius-archives.ca/.
Major forums in New York, D.C.
Speaking of conferences, among the most active groups in this regard was the Center for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations (CUSUR), which sponsored or co-sponsored six major forums, including several that are annual events.
The Ukrainian Weekly carried detailed news stories about two of them, both special events presented in New York as part of the “Ukrainian Historical Encounters Series.” The first, “Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Modern Ukrainian State,” took place at the Princeton Club on September 17, and the second “Ukraine at 25: A December 1st Remembrance,” was held at the Shevchenko Scientific Society.
The first was a symposium that attracted over 150 attendees. Government and non-government representatives, as well as renowned scholars came together to discuss the historical significance of Ukraine, and to delve into the country’s prospects for achieving mature nation statehood and becoming a full-fledged member of the Euro-Atlantic community. The day was capped off by speeches by three former Cabinet-level government officials: Gov. Tom Ridge, who had served as the first U.S. secretary of homeland security in 2003-2005; Ambassador Madeleine Albright, who had served as U.S. secretary of state in 1997-2001; and Borys Tarasyuk, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs in 1998-2000 and 2005-2007, and current chair of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Sixteen leading Ukrainian organizations local to the New York City area signed on as co-sponsors of the event. Throughout the conference, perspectives of Ukrainian diaspora organizations were included as an important voice in interpreting Ukraine’s past, present and future. CUSUR’s Walter Zaryckyj was the program coordinator.
In December, CUSUR partnered with the Shevchenko Scientific Society to present a symposium that commemorated the 25th anniversary of the national referendum in which more than 91 percent of Ukraine’s electorate voted to confirm Ukraine’s August 24 declaration of independence. Speakers at the forum – including scholars, journalists, diplomats and political activists – offered personal stories, eyewitness accounts and commentary on Ukrainian history since the referendum.
In the final session, Myron Rabij, a global partner with Denton’s, the world’s largest law firm, reflected: “Twenty-five years have brought a new generation of young people into the forefront of society – those that never lived under the USSR and know of it only from history class, and others who can barely remember it and frankly know August 24 and December 1 as simply incontestable historical dates. Those young people are now fighting for their country and are building their country – the only one they have ever really known – with no nostalgia or connection to the Soviet past.”
Others conferences organized by the CUSUR and its partners included these held in Washington: U.S.-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII, whose topic was “Taking New Measure of Russia’s ‘Near Abroad’: Assessing Security Challenges Facing the ‘Frontline States,’ ” which took place on February 25; the U.S.-Ukraine Working Group Yearly Summit IV: “Providing Ukraine with an Annual Report Card,” held June 16; and Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable XVII: “Ukraine and Religious Freedom,” on October 27.
At the end of 2016, on December 9 in New York, the CUSUR was involved in presenting a discussion on “Contemporary Lithuanian-Ukrainian Relations: Common Concerns; Common Approaches; Common Solutions; Common ‘European’ Future.” The event was organized by the Ukrainian Institute of America and the Lithuanian-American Community, New York district.
Universities and colleges
In early January, the Harriman Institute at Columbia University announced its spring schedule, with eight courses and several events in Ukrainian studies, and Prof. Sergei Zhuk as associate visiting professor. In these classes, students were able to explore topics such as: challenging traditional Soviet/Russian historical interpretations of Ukrainian history; how consumption of Western books, movies and music contributed to the crisis of Soviet identity after Stalin; and historical perspectives on the development of current Ukraine, contentious issues and non-issues in Soviet and Post-Soviet studies. Additionally, in the spring, Serhiy Zhadan presented the English-translation of his award-winning novel “Voroshylovhrad” and Valentyna Kharkhun delivered a lecture titled “Museums of Communism in Ukraine within the Context of Political Memory.”
For the fall semester, Columbia offered six different courses, with Dr. Simone Belleza, a research fellow in contemporary history from Italy, as the visiting professor. The term’s courses examined nation and identity, the evolution of Ukrainian history, the role of the Ukrainian cultural dissent in the 1960s in the national debate during the Soviet period, and how Ukraine’s foreign policy can ensure international support for its efforts to rebuff the aggression in the east of the country.
That semester also saw a lecture by Mykola Riabchuk titled “Examined by War. New Bonds and Old Cleavages in the Post-Maidan Ukrainian Society,” as well as the 14th installment of the Contemporary Ukrainian Literature Series, which featured poet, screenwriter and journalist Lyuba Yakimchuk.
Both the spring and fall semesters offered three levels of Ukrainian language instruction, as well as screenings of the newest Ukrainian films through the Ukrainian Film Club of Colombia University under the directorship of Dr. Yuri Shevchuk.
On February 1, Manor College in Jenkintown, Pa., hosted a forum and public discussion titled “Ukraine 2016: A Stability Dialogue at Manor College.” The event addressed what Western countries can do to promote future peace and stability in Ukraine. Featured speakers included Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Ukrainian National deputy Andrey Artemenko, Ukrainian businessman and investor Alex Rovt, former Congressman Curt Weldon and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bruce Weinrod. The college noted that it plans to feature more Ukrainian-themed programming in the future.
There was major news at Manor College in the spring, when Jonathan Peri was inaugurated as its ninth president – and its first lay president. Leonard J. Mazur, chairman of the Manor College Board of Trustees (and co-founder of Akrimax Pharmaceuticals, LLC) conducted the investiture ceremony on April 21. Mr. Peri had been with Manor College since November 2015, when he was selected by the board after an extensive national search. He succeeded Sister Mary Cecilia Jurasinski, who served as the college’s president for 30 years and now serves as the director of the Ukrainian Heritage Studies Center at Manor. Previously, Mr. Peri was vice-president and general counsel at Neumann University (Aston, Pa.).
Speaking of Manor, President Peri underscored: “It is a Ukrainian heritage institution, founded by and faithful to its Ukrainian Catholic Sisters of St. Basil the Great. Manor College is the only Ukrainian heritage institution for higher education in the United States – we are incredibly proud of our Ukrainian heritage.” Today the two-year college, which was founded in 1947 as St. Macrina College, offers more than 30 majors and has a variety of partnerships with other colleges and universities that allow its students to earn associate, undergraduate and graduate degrees.
In September, The Weekly reported on Mark von Hagen’s appointment as interim director of Arizona State University’s Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies. Prior to his appointment Prof. von Hagen taught at Columbia University for 24 years. He also served as the chair of the history department and directed the Harriman Institute, where he developed Ukrainian studies in the realm of humanities and social sciences. Prof. von Hagen remarked, “The Ukrainian language, like all the languages we teach at the Melikian Center’s Critical Language Institute, is a gateway to a rich culture and dynamic society. After two years of Russia’s war with Ukraine, the teaching of this language will also likely become a national security priority for the United States.” He added, “I remember fondly and gratefully the generosity of the Ukrainian communities of North America for our Ukrainian programming during my Columbia years.”
In November, The Weekly reported that the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) at the University of Toronto had come to an agreement with the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute Foundation (MASIF) about the relocation of the Sheptytsky Institute from Ottawa to Toronto as an autonomous academic unit within the Faculty of Theology. The Sheptytsky Institute was founded by Father Andriy Chirovsky in 1986 at Catholic Theological Union, a graduate school of ministry in Chicago. In 1990, at the request of the Ukrainian Catholic bishops of Canada, it relocated to Ottawa. The institute publishes a peer-reviewed journal, as well as books and audio-visual materials. It is supported by the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute Foundation and operates under the moral and financial aegis of the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy of Canada.
In February, The Weekly reported on an exhibition titled “Maidan. Ukraine. Road to Freedom” hosted by the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University and the Yale World Fellows program. Curated by Serhiy Fomenko of Kyiv and previously presented in Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Washington and New York City, the exhibit included the works of Maidan participants: artists, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, journalists and writers, who documented their individual views of the Maidan events. Hundreds of students, faculty and visitors came to view the exhibit. The opening reception featured a panel discussion with Marci Shore, associate professor of history at Yale; Stathis Kalyvas, Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science at Yale; Timothy Snyder, Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale; and Sviatoslav Vakarchuk, activist, singer and 2015 Yale World Fellow.
On March 11, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt spoke at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy on the future of U.S.-Ukraine relations. The ambassador shared his optimism about Ukraine’s long-term future. “Ukraine should be a very wealthy country. You have all the ingredients in terms of human capital – its civil society organizations, your culture, your pride, the deep sense of patriotism that the bitter experience of the past two years has helped to reinforce.” He continued, “My message to you is to be confident that if you stick to the path of reform, the United States and your other international partners in the G-7 will stand with you, because we want to see Ukraine succeed.” He also commented on the war in the east and Russia, affirming, “The United States is very clear that there is a victim and an aggressor in this conflict… I think the challenge now is to consolidate peace through the Minsk agreement, to deliver good governance for all of Ukraine, to include the occupied territories.”
On June 12, over 50 people gathered at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington to hear Ukrainian political commentator Mykola Riabchuk discuss changing Ukrainian attitudes. In his lecture titled, “What is left of ‘Two Ukraines’? New Divisions and New Connections in Ukrainian Society, 2014-2016,” Mr. Riabchuk cited a variety of statistics to demonstrate that the stereotypical conception of “two Ukraines” – one patriotic and pro-Western, the other Russian and pro-Soviet – is misleading. According to him, the “other” Ukraine does not have a Russian identity, but rather a different kind of Ukrainian identity. Furthermore, the balance has changed in recent years, so that the patriotic and pro-Western portion of the population is now dominant.
In October, also, two online academic conferences were held to discuss the newest international research about language, culture and higher education reform in post-Maidan Ukraine. Offered in English, the peer-reviewed presentations featured 30 speakers from 18 universities in eight countries. Presenters reported their research findings in a number of areas, including language, literature, national identity, culture and others. Over 650 participants tuned into the 14 20-minute talks online. The conferences are archived on the website of the Research Initiative on Democratic Reform in Ukraine (RIDRU) at http://ridru.artsrn.ualberta.ca/2016/09/23/language-and-culture-in-post-maidan-ukraine-transformations-at-work-and-higher-education-reform-in-post-maidan-ukraine/.
In November, the Our Ancestors Family History Group – the Nashi Predky Initiative – at the Ukrainian Historical and Educational Center of New Jersey held its third annual fall conference, titled “Research Essentials: Combining the Basics with 21st Century Technology,” in Somerset, N.J. The initiative began in 2014 with the goal of helping Ukrainians, Lemkos, Boykos, Rusyns, Jews with Ukrainian roots and others in the U.S. learn about their family histories, collect stories and documents about their immigrant ancestors, preserve family records and trace lineages. Speakers at the November 4-5 conference were nationally known experts in Eastern European genealogy.
November also saw the announcement of a new laureate of the Omelan and Tatiana Antonovych Foundation. The Rev. Bohdan Prach, rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, received the award for his work documenting “the Golgotha of the Ukrainian Catholic clergy.” During the presentation ceremony at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, the foundation singled out the Rev. Prach’s latest accomplishment: the publication of his monumental two-volume work: “The Clergy of the Peremyshl Eparchy and the Apostolic Administration of Lemkivshchyna.”
A story in The Weekly on October 2 featured the back story behind the “Memory Books of Lemkivshchyna 1944-1946,” a book written by Yaroslava Galyk and published with the support of the Lemko Research Foundation (LRF) in the U.S.A. The book contains the names of Lemkos who were deported to Ukraine between 1944-1946. The record contains full names, years of birth, family relationships within households, original villages of residence and finally the Ukrainian oblasts to which they were resettled. Dr. Galyk obtained these lists from the original resettlement documents presently located in the State Archives of Lviv Oblast.
Throughout 2016, despite the challenges of conducting excavations in Baturyn, Chernihiv Oblast, at a time of war, Ukrainian and Canadian archaeologists and historians proceeded with researching the town and publishing their findings. In the summer of 2016, about 70 students and scholars from the universities of Chernihiv, Hlukhiv and Sumy, and the National University of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy took part in the annual Baturyn excavations. On October 30, The Weekly featured an article by Dr. Volodymyr Mezentsev of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta, who is the Canadian executive director of the Baturyn archaeological project. Dr. Mezentsev reported on the 2015-2016 work of these scholars, including hypothetical reconstructions of the interior of Mazepa’s palace, as well as excavations of the site of a wooden church at Mazepa’s manor and of the remnants of the household of Judge General Vasyl Kochubei.
In December, the Peter Jacyk Center for Ukrainian Historical Research of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta and CIUS Press announced the publication of a new volume of Mykhailo Hrushevsky’s “History of Ukraine-Rus.’ ” The new English-language Volume 3, like the eight volumes previously published (between 1997 and 2014), was prepared by the Jacyk Center’s Hrushevsky Translation Project. The volume, subtitled “To the Year 1340,” also marked the 150th anniversary of Hrushevsky’s birth.
Ongoing throughout 2016, The Weekly reported on several initiatives and events regarding the Holodomor, underlining its importance in various fields within academia. The first were scholarly conferences held in Calgary, Alberta, and in Lviv, organized by the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC).
At the University of Calgary on May 31, the HREC organized the panel “Refugees and the Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: Accounts of Flight, Early Testimonies, Memoirs and Other Writings (1930s-1950s)” at the conference of the Canadian Association of Slavists (CAS), the major Canadian professional organization in Slavic studies. The conference was part of a larger gathering of 69 member organizations of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
On June 26 HREC invited speakers to examine the role of demonization and the “othering” of Ukrainians in the context of the Holodomor. The panel was part of the Lviv conference of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, an international organization with more than 3,000 members that supports teaching, research and publication related to Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia and Eastern Europe. Titled, “Images of ‘the Enemy’ and the National Interpretation of De-Kulakization and the Holodomor in Ukraine (1920s-1950s),” the panel focused on three distinct collections of primary sources on the 1928-1933 period in Ukraine.
On September 15 at another HREC-sponsored event, Prof. Oleh Wolowyna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill spoke at a University of Toronto seminar titled, “What we now know about the Holodomor: New research results.” His presentation addressed the results of research conducted in collaboration with a team of demographers in Ukraine. Prof. Wolowyna noted the progress achieved in the study of the Holodomor, particularly since the opening of Soviet-era archives. However, much is still unknown and common assumptions about the Famine have been shown to be inaccurate. His presentation focused on three topics: questionable “facts” about the Holodomor; direct losses by oblasts in Ukraine; and comparison of famine losses at the regional level in Ukraine and Russia.
Also in September, Valentina Kuryliw, director of education at the HREC, traveled to Kyiv to deliver master classes for educators on new methodologies for teaching about the Holodomor. The symposium “The New Ukrainian School: Teaching about the Holodomor and other Genocides” was attended by teachers from throughout Ukraine. While research on the Holodomor has increased in recent years, the Famine has yet to be integrated into curricula at all levels of education in Ukraine, and many Ukrainian teachers are only now beginning to consider how the subject should be taught in the 21st century classroom. Among the topics addressed at the symposium were developments in research on the Holodomor, the deportation of the Crimean Tatars and other genocides. Mrs. Kuryliw encouraged educators to embrace themes related to human rights in their teaching of the Holodomor, as a means of broadening the Holodomor’s applicability across disciplines, including history, law, politics, literature, civics and media studies.
The Holodomor was also a central theme at the symposium “Empire, Colonialism and Famine in Comparative Historical Perspective,” held October 28-29 at the University of Toronto. This was the fourth international conference organized by the HREC at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. The conference featured presentations on the Irish Famine, the Holodomor and the Bengal Famine of 1943 by scholars and genocide specialists. The meeting also welcomed 20 early career scholars from around the world whose research interests ranged from famine relief in colonial India, visual culture of the Irish famine and hunger in 20th century Ghana, to empire and public health in the Caribbean in the 20th century.
On November 11, the 19th annual Ukrainian Famine Lecture was delivered in Toronto by Serhii Plokhy, Mykhailo Hrushevskyi Professor of Ukrainian History and director of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. His presentation, attended by a full auditorium at the University of Toronto, was titled “The Fields of Sorrow: Mapping the Great Ukrainian Famine.” The event was organized by the HREC with the support of the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Toronto branch). Prof. Plokhy provided an overview of the HURI project “Mapa: Digital Atlas of Ukraine.” One of the most striking maps, “Total Direct Famine Losses in Ukraine by Region, 1932-1934,” shows that the area hardest hit by the Holodomor was the central Ukrainian heartland in the Kyiv and Kharkiv oblasts rather than the main grain-growing region of southern Ukraine, which had suffered the most during the famine of the early 1920s when the Soviet Union had accepted food aid.
On November 17, the Holodomor was the topic of presentations at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington at an event organized by the Shevchenko Scientific Society’s District of Columbia chapter, together with the HREC and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. Speakers included: Frank Sysyn, director of the Peter Jacyk Center for Ukrainian Historical Research at the CIUS, who spoke about the evolution of the study of the Holodomor in the West and his experience with the Harvard Famine Project; Bohdan Klid, director of research at HREC and co-editor with Alexander Motyl of “The Holodomor Reader: A Sourcebook on the Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine” (2012), who gave an overview of HREC’s major publication projects; HREC Executive Director Marta Baziuk, who described activities of HREC that engage scholars from a range of fields; Larysa Kurylas, the design architect and sculptor of the Holodomor Memorial in Washington, who described the genesis of the memorial’s design and challenges in its execution; and Liudmyla Hrynevych, director of the Holodomor Research and Education Center in Kyiv, who spoke on the topic “The Holodomor and the Language of Hate in Stalinist Propaganda.”
Finally on November 20, an article by Lana Babij followed up on an earlier report on the Holodomor information project, stating that during this year’s peak period for school reports (March through June) the Holodomor information website, www.holodomorct.org, received approximately 75,000 visits, showing the growing popularity of the website throughout the English-speaking world. There is obvious interest and need for an online guide to Holodomor resources that are authentic and comprehensible to the general public and students of varying ages and backgrounds; that meet today’s educational standards; and that are readily accessible to a social media-savvy population. Created in 2007, the website’s original intent was to inform the Connecticut public of the upcoming 75th anniversary commemoration plans of the newly formed CT Holodomor Awareness Committee. The website has since turned into a passionate commitment for its webmistress, Natalka Sazonova. Still a work-in-progress, the site is looking to add new features and welcomes all comments.