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Laboratory of Transnational History: Ukraine and Recent Ukrainian Historiography

Georgiy Kasianov
Philipp Ther
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Laboratory of Transnational History
    Book Description:

    A first attempt to present an approach to Ukrainian history which goes beyond the standard ‘national narrative’ schemes, predominant in the majority of post-Soviet countries after 1991, in the years of implementing ‘nation-building projects’. An unrivalled collection of essays by the finest scholars in the field from Ukraine, Russia, USA, Germany, Austria and Canada, superbly written to a high academic standard. The various chapters are methodologically innovative and thought-provoking. The biggest Eastern European country has ancient roots but also the birth pangs of a new autonomous state. Its historiography is characterized by animated debates, in which this book takes a definite stance. The history of Ukraine is not written here as a linear, teleological narrative of ethnic Ukrainians but as a multicultural, multidimensional history of a diversity of cultures, religious denominations, languages, ethical norms, and historical experience. It is not presented as causal explanation of ‘what has to have happened’ but rather as conjunctures and contingencies, disruptions, and episodes of ‘lack of history.’

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-55-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)
    Georgiy Kasianov and Philipp Ther

    For almost half a century, Ukrainian history did not exist in Ukraine as an independent field of scholarly research or as a subject of instruction. After the Second World War, the “history of the Ukrainian SSR” was established as a regional subunit of the “History of the USSR.” Outside Ukraine, its history was a subject of scholarly research and ideological interpretation in diaspora historiography and in a few small university-level institutions that generally found themselves on the margins of the academic world. After 1991, public demand for accounts of Ukrainian history arose in Ukraine and abroad: in both cases, the...

  5. I. National versus Transnational History
    • “Nationalized” History: Past Continuous, Present Perfect, Future…
      (pp. 7-24)
      Georgiy Kasianov

      This essay deals with a phenomenon that I call “nationalized history,” meaning a way of perceiving, understanding and treating the past that requires the separation of “one’s own” history from an earlier “common” history and its construction as the history of a nation. The great majority of the world’s states and nations have undergone the “nationalization” of history. The history of that phenomenon, in any particular country, coincides with the age of nationalism and the development of national states, depending on the time when the age of nationalism reaches its territory. In some countries, the nationalization of history was part...

    • Revisiting the Histories of Ukraine
      (pp. 25-50)
      Mark von Hagen

      In a conversation a few years ago in Kyiv with a fashionable art gallery owner, I was challenged to state what I thought made Ukrainian history distinctive and interesting.

      Before long I found myself refuting her notion that these distinctions were “primal” and somehow based in the genetic material of contemporary Ukrainians. This primordial reading of Ukrainian nationality is something that we scholars working in the postmodern paradigms find difficult to bear,¹ but I also have to acknowledge that I achieved next to nothing in destabilizing this Ukrainian woman’s firm conviction of her nation’s genetic superiority to others, especially the...

    • From an Ethnonational to a Multiethnic to a Transnational Ukrainian History
      (pp. 51-80)
      Andreas Kappeler

      The first quotation is from the diary of Wojciech Miaskowski of Lviv, a member of a Polish royal commission that visited Kyiv in January 1649, when Bohdan Khmelnytsky returned there after a successful campaign across most of Ukrainian territory. The author of the second quotation was Paul, the son of the patriarch of Aleppo, who visited Ukraine several years later. These two sources have often been cited in Ukrainian historiography, beginning with the work of Mykhailo Hrushevsky.¹

      In the chronicle of the Volhynian rabbi Nathan Hanover, however, Khmelnytsky appears not as a new Moses but as an archenemy of the...

    • The Transnational Paradigm of Historiography and Its Potential for Ukrainian History
      (pp. 81-114)
      Philipp Ther

      The American historian Ronald Suny once wrote pointedly about the institutionalization of history in the nineteenth century: “History as a discipline helped to constitute the nation, even as the nation determined the categories in which history was written and the purposes it was to serve.”¹ One need only mention the name of Mykhailo Hrushevsky to confirm the validity of this statement. He was not only the most important Ukrainian historian of the nineteenth century but also a preeminent nation-builder, like the Czech historian František Palacký.² Hrushevsky’s uniqueness in the history and historiography of Ukraine is based on a structural phenomenon....

  6. II. Ukrainian History Rewritten
    • Choice of Name versus Choice of Path: The Names of Ukrainian Territories from the Late Sixteenth to the Late Seventeenth Century
      (pp. 117-148)
      Natalia Yakovenko

      The very act of demarcating the real or imagined boundary of “our land” creates two geographic and cultural entities—the “land of the Other” and “one’s own” space. Establishing the name of “one’s own” living space is far from the least important step toward endowing it with meaning. Thus canonized, it is transformed by the inhabitants’ unwritten convention into the sacred name of a fatherland—a land inherited from ancestors on which objectively existing reality (territory) is infused with a series of imagined values projected onto that territory; values associated with common “blood,” interests, history, cultural tradition, and the like....

    • Fellows and Travelers: Thinking about Ukrainian History in the Early Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 149-168)
      Oleksiy Tolochko

      The purpose of this study is to explore the ways in which thinking about Ukrainian history evolved during the first two decades of the nineteenth century. Although this period is not considered important for the shaping of Ukrainian historical thought, I would argue that it was crucial in many respects. By the end of the period, the romantic vision of the Ukrainian past was already fully formed and was slowly giving way to more academic study. Major syntheses, however, present the final results of intensive developments whose details remain largely obscure. It is my aim to go beyond the texts...

    • The Latin and Cyrillic Alphabets in Ukrainian National Discourse and in the Language Policy of Empires
      (pp. 169-210)
      Alexei Miller and Oksana Ostapchuk

      Language is one of the most important elements in the symbolism of ethnicity. The transformation of ethnic consciousness into national consciousness is accompanied by a rethinking and ideologization of the relation between language and ethnos.¹

      The struggle for the consolidation² and emancipation of the Ukrainian language offers particularly rich material for research in this field. In the nineteenth century, we see two “stages” on which intensive arguments and political battles developed concerning that question—Galicia, which was subject to the Habsburgs, and the combined Dnipro Ukraine, Little Russia and Sloboda Ukraine, which were subject to the Romanovs. These arguments and...

    • Victim Cinema. Between Hitler and Stalin: Ukraine in World War II—The Untold Story
      (pp. 211-224)
      John-Paul Himka

      This article explores the collective memory of World War II in the Ukrainian diaspora in North America, focusing on the construction of a victimization narrative. This is a topic I have already broached elsewhere, primarily on the basis of an analysis of texts appearing inThe Ukrainian Weeklyand E-Poshta.¹ In the present study, I focus on a film about Ukraine in World War II that emerged from a much more liberal and much more intellectual milieu:Between Hitler and Stalin: Ukraine in World War II—The Untold Story.

      The 58-minute documentary was the product of Toronto-based intellectuals, members of...

    • On the Relevance and Irrelevance of Nationalism in Contemporary Ukraine
      (pp. 225-248)
      Yaroslav Hrytsak

      Only a few decades ago, a historian of Ukraine resembled the protagonist of the Beatles’ song “Nowhere Man,” “sitting in his nowhere land” and “making all his nowhere plans for nobody.” Ukraine was a “nowhere land,” unknown to a larger audience.² In West and East alike, Ukrainian history had apparently been dissolved in Russian or, as the case may be, Soviet history. Ukraine was thus largely ignored in the large theoretical schemes and grand narratives of nationalism produced by Eastern and Western scholars in the course of the Cold War.³ The breakup of the Soviet Union dramatically changed the academic...

    • The Making of Modern Ukraine: The Western Dimension
      (pp. 249-286)
      Roman Szporluk

      More than sixty years ago, in February 1948, the British historian Lewis Namier (1888–1960) delivered a lecture commemorating the centennial of the European revolution of 1848.¹ His lecture has been published many times since then as “1848: Seed-plot of History” in, among other places, a volume titledVanished Supremacies

      Namier’s choice of 1848 as a point of departure was well founded. There is a tired cliché that 1848 was a turning point in history when history failed to turn, but that is wrong. The year 1848 saw the first European revolutions: France was at the center, and there were...

  7. About the Contributors
    (pp. 287-290)
  8. Index of Names
    (pp. 291-302)
  9. Index of Places
    (pp. 303-310)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 311-311)