Matthias Kaltenbrunner, HURI Research Fellow
Moderated by Serhii Plokhii, Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History; Director, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard
Without direct access to archival sources in Soviet Ukraine, diaspora historian Mykhailo Bazhans’kyi had to develop alternative approaches to village history. A native of the Galician town of Sniatyn, Bazhans’kyi was an extremely prolific collector of Ukrainica who donated his private library to the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard. Following his immigration to the U.S. in 1949, he settled in Detroit, Michigan, where he became involved in the city's vibrant Ukrainian community. From the 1960s onwards, Bazhans'kyi's main scholarly focus was his native Sniatyn and its surrounding villages. He assembled every thinkable piece of information on Sniatynites around the world, living or dead. He conducted an extended correspondence with migrants from Sniatyn county in North America and Western Europe, and amassed an enormous collection of letters, hand-written notes and newspaper clippings. Bazhans'ky's papers, comprising 40 archival boxes, came to Harvard after his passing in 1994.
For Mykhailo Bazhans'kyi, the villages transformed into relational spaces constituted by a mosaic of connections among the villagers in the diaspora. The centerpiece of Bazhans'kyi's endeavors was his journal "Sniatyn" that appeared irregularly from 1968 to 1976. Conceptualized as an "interface" for Sniatynites wherever they would be, it not only meticulously chronicled the pre-1944 history of Sniatyn county and its people but also documented the present. Bazhans'kyi consciously included the very process of constructing the relational village spaces in his journal: segments from letters and phone calls he had received, obituaries, accounts of weddings and career changes, and, yes, gossip. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Mykhailo Bazhans'kyi's research "re-migrated" to Sniatyn and was rapidly integrated in the local post-Soviet landscape of memory.
About the Speaker
Matthias Kaltenbrunner is currently a visiting fellow at HURI. He earned a PhD. in history at the University of Vienna in 2016 and has been a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of East European History at the University of Vienna, and at the Kule Folklore Centre at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. His research interests include the history of Ukraine and Russia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Second World War and migration history.
At Harvard, he is working on his book project "The Globally Connected Village: A Ukrainian-Canadian History" (University of Toronto Press) examining the networks between Western Ukrainian villagers and Canadian migrants in the course of the twentieth century.
Moderator: Serhii Plokhii, Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History; Director, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard d University
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