As the world prepares to mark the 30th anniversary of the worst nuclear disaster in its history – the explosion and partial meltdown of the nuclear reactor at the Chornobyl power station in Ukraine – there is a temptation to celebrate that date as well. The half-life of cesium-137, one of the most harmful nuclides released during the accident, is approximately 30 years. It is the longest “living” isotope of cesium that has the ability to affect the human body through external exposure and ingestion. The other deadly isotopes present in the disaster have long passed their half-life stages: Iodine 131 after eight days and cesium-134 after two years. Cesium-137 is the last out of that deadly trio of isotopes.
On June 18, the 2016 Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute (HUSI) will open its doors to admitted students, continuing a tradition that spans nearly five decades. The seven-week summer program offers advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals a unique chance to study intensive Ukrainian language and subject courses at Harvard University. “My participation in the Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute was definitely one of the most enriching experiences of my life,” said Vira Byy, a former HUSI participant. “As a young person from Ukraine, that experience was truly a door opener: it brought me right into a superior level of academia and international affairs, and also gave me a much deeper understanding of where Ukraine stands on the global map, in terms of its political activities, complex history, and abundant cultural heritage.”
The warp and weft of political and social relationships among the medieval elite were formed by marriages made between royal families. Ties of Kinship establishes a new standard for tracking the dynastic marriages of the ruling family of Rus´—the descendants of Volodimer (Volodimerovichi). Utilizing a modern scholarly approach and a broad range of primary sources from inside and outside Rus´, Christian Raffensperger (former Shklar Fellow) has created a fully realized picture of the Volodimerovichi from the tenth through the twelfth centuries and the first comprehensive, scholarly treatment of the subject in English.
On Monday, April 4, at 4:15 pm, Dr. Rory Finnin gave the Bohdan and Neonila Krawciw Memorial Lecture at 1730 Cambridge Street, room S-020. Entitled ‘A Bridge Between Us’: Literature in the Ukrainian-Crimean Tatar Encounter, his talk addressed the role of literature in the cultivation of Ukrainian-Crimean Tatar relations since the late 19th century. While introducing the audience to some of the Crimean Tatar works that are less frequently studied or well known than literatures in other languages, Finnin explored the interaction between Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar writers.
In HURI’s latest Vasyl and Maria Petryshyn Memorial Lecture, Serhy Yekelchyk, Professor of History and Germanic & Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria, addressed these questions. In the March 7 presentation, he outlined the Maidan’s recurring role as host for Ukraine’s pivotal civic and political activities. Tracing the development and evolution of the square from its inception as a political space in 1876 through to the recent plans to memorialize the Euromaidan events, Yekelchyk argued that the physical shape of a public space and its relation to history and action have a certain ‘symbiosis’ that both evolves over time and continues to reflect back on itself.
ЖНИВА: Essays Presented in Honor of George G. Grabowicz on His Seventieth Birthday has been published as volumes 32–33 of HURI's journal Harvard Ukrainian Studies. The two-volume set contains 49 essays in tribute to Grabowicz's distinguished contribution to the field of Ukrainian studies, and itself provides an exemplary overview of the state of the field at present. Fifty scholars from Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Canada, and the United States examine a range of subjects that reflect Grabowicz' own interests.
Ukraine is currently embroiled in a tense fight with Russia to preserve its territorial integrity and political independence. But today’s conflict is only the latest in a long history of battles over Ukraine’s territory and its existence as a sovereign nation. As the award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy argues in The Gates of Europe, we must examine Ukraine’s past in order to understand its present and future. Situated between Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Ukraine was shaped by the empires that used it as a strategic gateway between East and West—from the Roman and Ottoman empires to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union.
Ukraine is once again at the center of European discussion. On April 6, in a nonbinding referendum, Dutch citizens voted by 61 percent to reject the E.U.-Ukraine Association Agreement. All 27 other E.U. members already have approved it.
This is the same agreement that sparked protests and upheaval throughout Ukraine in November 2013, when then-President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign it. In June 2014, newly elected President Petro Poroshenko signed the agreement, heralding Ukraine’s first step towards full E.U. membership. The Dutch parliament approved the association agreement in 2015, but this vote was triggered by a petition sponsored by Euroskeptics and was widely seen by them as a referendum on the E.U., not about Ukraine.
In later years, there would be bigger demonstrations, more eloquent speakers, and more professional slogans. But the march that took place in Kiev on a Sunday morning in the spring of 1917 was extraordinary because it was the first of its kind in that city. The Russian Empire had banned Ukrainian books, newspapers, theaters, and even the use of the Ukrainian language in schools. The public display of national symbols had been risky and dangerous. But in the wake of the February Revolution in Petrograd, anything seemed possible.
There were flags, yellow and blue for Ukraine as well as red for the Communist cause. The crowd, composed of children, soldiers, factory workers, marching bands, and officials, carried banners—“Independent Ukraine with its own leader!” or “A free Ukraine in a free Russia!” Some carried portraits of the national poet Taras Shevchenko. One after another, speakers called for the crowd to support the newly established Central Rada—the name means “central council”—that had formed a few days earlier and now claimed authority to rule Ukraine.
To justify his meddling in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has claimed Ukrainians as Russian people. Is he right? In the last few years Vladimir Putin has surprised many observers of the international scene not only by his actions, but also by his words. In the middle of the Ukraine crisis, while the Russian media was vilifying the new government in Kyiv as nothing less than a “fascist junta,” he repeatedly went on record claiming that Russians and Ukrainians were one and the same people. What it meant in practice was demonstrated in March 2014, when the Russian troops took over the Ukrainian Crimea, which Putin declared a historical heritage site common to the Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians and the place where his namesake, Prince Vladimir (Ukr. Volodymyr) of Kyiv, had been baptized. Russia’s annexation of the Crimea made this allegedly common site an exclusively Russian possession.