Making Knowledge on Ukraine in the Interwar Period

Making Knowledge on Ukraine in the Interwar Period

IOS Regensburg, the University of Regensburg, the Institute of History (Czech Academy of Sciences) and the Lumina quaeruntur project “Images of science” (Masaryk Institute and Archives, Czech Academy of Sciences)
Fand statt
Vom - Bis
25.09.2023 - 26.09.2023
Jennifer Frank, Seminar für Mittlere und Neuere Geschichte, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

In the Inter-War period, many Ukrainian intellectuals found themselves displaced in Central Europe. After 1921, Ukraine existed only as an imagined construct and as a body of separate political entities, integrated into Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union. In the absence of a national state, Ukrainians leveraged global networks to create, disseminate, and institutionalize knowledge about their homeland. The workshop aimed to investigate the evolution of this knowledge within international communities while contextualizing it within the state- and nation-building projects with which it was intertwined.

The first panel highlighted the importance of networks between Ukrainian emigrant groups. ANDRII PORTNOV (Frankfurt/Oder) showcased how Ukrainian intellectuals found ways to share knowledge across state borders, until the disruptions of 1929 destroyed this common Ukrainian intellectual space. HANNAH STECKELBERG (Vienna) explored Ukrainian publishing in Vienna, stressing its significance in emigrant studies. Both papers, noted ALEKSANDR DMITRIEV (Lausanne), showed leftist and rightist political actors’ ability to collaborate on common goals.

The second panel analysed Ukrainian emigrant networks’ communication with political actors. MAGDALENA GIBIEC (Wrocław) examined the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists’ unsuccessful attempts at drawing the attention of the League of Nations to the 'Ukrainian problem'. ANDREEA DAHLQUIST (Târgoviște/Malmö) discussed the efforts of the Ukrainian minority in Poland and Romania to secure official recognition of their rights as outlined in the Minority Treaties created after World War I. JAN SURMAN (Prague) emphasized the legal and emotional challenges in defining the concept of 'minority' during the Inter-War period.

Multiple speakers focused on the practice of memoir writing. JAGODA WIERZEJSKA (Warsaw) showed how the Polish state produced ignorance on the Polish-Ukrainian war of 1918-1919 through the marginalization, misinterpretation and hiding of knowledge. Expanding on this, MARTIN ROHDE (Regensburg/Prague) explained how Ukrainian knowledge on the war was mainly produced by (former) combatants. Crucial differences emerged: While Poland could institutionalize its knowledge production, Ukrainians relied on private contributions to imitate these practices. YUKI MURATA (Vienna) showed how Russian emigrant memoirs on the Ukrainian Revolution hierarchized Russian and Ukrainian cultures and rejected a permanent Ukrainian independence. FABIAN BAUMANN (Vienna) underscored the significance of autobiographical writing in the consolidation of the Ukrainian political emigration.

Jagoda Wierzejska suggested that memoir studies serve as the crossroads between history and literary studies as they provide a window into the common awareness of a community. Martin Rohde emphasized the importance of memoirs in the study of non-dominant groups with no archives of their own.

Moving on from memoirs, the fifth panel focused on the political character of knowledge production on national territories. GENADII KOROLOV (Warsaw) presented on the peculiarities of tsarist official and Ukrainian legal scholar Otto Eichelmann’s political and scientific views on Ukraine. STANISLAV HOLUBEC (Prague) showcased how, as the population of Carpathian Ruthenia became the target of different state building projects, these were mirrored in ethnographic maps.

The last panel focused on the interweaving of biography, historiography, and ideology. GALINA BABAK (Prague) presented the states of exile and emigration as dynamic processes as well as methods for intellectual and political engagement. ROBERT BORN (Oldenburg) examined how art historian Volodymyr Sas-Zalozetsky situated Ukrainian art in the broader context of European art history. BRIAN HOROWITZ (New Orleans) analysed Jewish-Russian-Ukrainian historian Ilya Galant’s thesis of Jewish people as an inseparable part of Ukrainian history.

The workshop exhibited a rich diversity in the individual actors examined, encompassing a wide spectrum of political alignments. What became evident throughout was the intricate interplay of personal biography and ideology, illustrating the process of personal and national identity construction by those who made knowledge on Ukraine during the Inter-War period. Of note was the emphasis placed on the pivotal role of relationships in the history of Ukrainian science. Yet despite the importance of personal and scholarly trust for Ukrainian emigré intellectuals, there was a notable lack of discussion on methodological frameworks that could be employed in their study.

Overall, the workshop offered valuable insights into the intricate dynamics of knowledge production, the construction of collective memory, and the influential role of individual actors in shaping Ukraine's historical narrative during the Inter-War period. It succeeded in its core objective, as articulated by Galina Babak, of acknowledging Ukraine as a significant actor of the Inter-War era and delving deep into the nuanced ideological motivations that drove various individuals and groups. These contributions not only enrich our understanding of Ukraine, but also deepen our understanding of this critical period in European history.

Conference overview:

Opening remarks

Galina Babak (Prague), Guido Hausmann (Regensburg), Martin Rohde (Regensburg/Prague), Jan Surman (Prague)

Panel I: Networks

Andrii Portnov (Frankfurt/Oder): Cross-border intellectual exchange in Ukrainian humanities of the inter-war period

Hannah Steckelberg (Vienna): The Vienna-Ukraine connection in educational publishing

Yuliia Horbach (Kyiv): Ukrainian literary scholar Leonid Biletsky and his scientific activity during the Prague emigration period (1920-1940s) [online]

Comment: Aleksandr Dmitriev (Lausanne)

Panel II: International Communication

Magdalena Gibiec (Wrocław): Exerting soft power. Addressing “Ukrainian problem” at the League of Nations and in Western Europe by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists

Andreea Dahlquist (Târgoviște/Malmö): The Ukrainian Movement in Interwar Romania and Poland Reflected in the Diplomatic Correspondence of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Comment: Jan Surman (Prague)

Panel III: Memoirs I

Jagoda Wierzejska (Warsaw): Production of ideologized knowledge and areas of ignorance about the Polish-Ukrainian War for Eastern Galicia in Polish memoirs of the interwar period

Martin Rohde (Regensburg/Prague): Making knowledge under threat. Ukrainian memoirs on the Polish-Ukrainian war in the interwar period

Comment: Galina Babak (Prague)

Panel IV: Memoirs II

Yuki Murata (Vienna): Russian Retrospection of Revolutionary Ukraine in Interwar Europe: "White Cause" and Beyond

Fabian Baumann (Vienna): The Historian as Memoirist, the Memoirist as Activist: Oleksander Shul’hyn’s Autobiographical Practice and the Consolidation of the Ukrainian Emigration

Comment: Gennadii Korolov (Warsaw)

Panel V: National Territories under Discussion

Gennadii Korolov (Warsaw): Between Empire and New Russia: Otto Eichelman on Ukraine’s political system, postimperial international law, and deadlock of geopolitics (early 20th century – 1926)

Stanislav Holubec (Prague): Ethnographic Mapping of Podkarpatská Rus in the Interwar Period

Comment: Martin Rohde (Regensburg)

Panel VI: Historiographies and Ideologies

Galina Babak (Prague): Mykyta Shapoval: Fighting for Ukrainian independence / social revolution – and making knowledge about it

Robert Born (Oldenburg): Volodymyr Sas-Zalozetsky and the Interpretation of the Art in Ukraine in the Interwar Period

Brian Horowitz (New Orleans): Ilya Galant: The Jewish Historian Who Loved Ukraine

Comment: Guido Hausmann (Regensburg)

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