"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Studies of Ukraine

As the flashpoint of the encounter between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic worlds, Ukraine--so the popular impression often runs--very often lives up to its very name of "borderland," that is, to a place of never-ending conflict. But several new and forthcoming studies challenge this perception from a variety of angles. The first and most wide-ranging of these is a collection edited by Giovanna Brogi Bercoff, Marko Pavlyshyn, and Serhii Plokhy: Ukraine and Europe: Cultural Encounters and Negotiations (University of Toronto Press, 2017), 496pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Ukraine and Europe challenges the popular perception of Ukraine as a country torn between Europe and the east. Twenty-two scholars from Europe, North America, and Australia explore the complexities of Ukraine’s relationship with Europe and its role the continent’s historical and cultural development.
Encompassing literary studies, history, linguistics, and art history, the essays in this volume illuminate the interethnic, interlingual, intercultural, and international relationships that Ukraine has participated in. The volume is divided chronologically into three parts: the early modern era, the 19th and 20th century, and the Soviet/post-Soviet period. Ukraine in Europe offers new and innovative interpretations of historical and cultural moments while establishing a historical perspective for the pro-European sentiments that have arisen in Ukraine following the Euromaidan protests.
The second, just released this month, is a collection that reminds us of the deep if messy roots of a very particular encounter: that between Christians and Jews in Ukraine, which has often been controverted though there is considerable evidence that it was also much better in parts of Ukraine than in other parts of Europe from the 19th century through to the First World War. A just-released study, from the widely respected historian Paul Robert Magocsi (author of many studies of the "Carpathian peoples," as it were--Rusyns, Ukrainians, and Galicians) together with Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, sheds fresh light on the complexities of these relations: Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence (University of Toronto Press, 2016), 320pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
There is much that ordinary Ukrainians do not know about Jews and that ordinary Jews do not know about Ukrainians. As a result, those Jews and Ukrainians who may care about their respective ancestral heritages usually view each other through distorted stereotypes, misperceptions, and biases. This book sheds new light on highly controversial moments of Ukrainian-Jewish relations and argues that the historical experience in Ukraine not only divided ethnic Ukrainians and Jews but also brought them together.
The story of Jews and Ukrainians is presented in an impartial manner through twelve thematic chapters. Among the themes discussed are geography, history, economic life, traditional culture, religion, language and publications, literature and theater, architecture and art, music, the diaspora, and contemporary Ukraine. The book’s easy-to-read narrative is enhanced by 335 full-color illustrations, 29 maps, and several text inserts that explain specific phenomena or address controversial issues. Jews and Ukrainians provides a wealth of information for anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating land of Ukraine and two of its most historically significant peoples.
The University of Toronto Press, the largest academic press in Canada, maintains a lively list of books devoted to Ukrainian studies in part because the Ukrainian immigration into Canada over the last dozen decades or more has been very large indeed, and there are a number of endowed chairs in Ukrainian history and culture at several Canadian universities. So the U of T Press is also issuing, in addition to the above, four other new studies, including Rhonda Hinther's study, Perogies and Politics: Canada's Ukrainian Left 1891-1991 (U of T Press, 2017), 304pp.

In this continued centenary period of the First World War (I write this on the 100th anniversary of the death of the Habsburg Emperor Franz Josef), a forthcoming study looks at Ukraine's role in the conclusion of that conflict: Borislav Chernev, Twilight of Empire: The Brest-Litovsk Conference and the Remaking of East-Central Europe, 1917–1918 (U of T Press, 2017), 304pp.
Twilight of Empire is the first book in English to examine the Brest-Litovsk Peace Conference during the later stages of World War I with the use of extensive archival sources. Two separate peace treaties were signed at Brest-Litovsk – the first between the Central Powers and Ukraine and the second between the Central Powers and Bolshevik Russia.
Borislav Chernev, through an insightful and in-depth analysis of primary sources and archival material, argues that although its duration was short lived, the Brest-Litovsk settlement significantly affected the post-Imperial transformation of East Central Europe. The conference became a focal point for the interrelated processes of peacemaking, revolution, imperial collapse, and nation-state creation in the multi-ethnic, entangled spaces of East Central Europe. Chernev’s analysis expands beyond the traditional focus on the German-Russian relationship, paying special attention to the policies of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. The transformations initiated by the Brest-Litovsk conferences ushered in the twilight of empire as the Habsburg, Hohenzollern, and Ottoman Empires all shared the fate of their Romanov counterpart at the end of World War I.
Finally, two further forthcoming studies both look at the aftermath of the Great War and the rise of the Soviet Union: first, Zbigniew Wojnowski, The Near Abroad: Socialist Eastern Europe and Soviet Patriotism in Ukraine, 1956-1985 (U of T Press, 2017), 304pp.

And second: Beau Monde on Empire’s Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine 1st Edition by Mayhill Fowler (U of T, 2017), 264pp.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...