HURI's 2018 Year in Review

January 17, 2019
50th reception

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This past year was a particularly busy and important one for the Institute. With January 22, 2018 marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Ukrainian studies at Harvard, it was fitting to reflect on the accomplishments of the past half-century, changes in the field of Ukrainian studies, and ambitions for the future.

Thus, we organized a conference, which was held in May, and later took advantage of the influx of Ukrainian studies scholars attending the ASEEES convention in Boston to cap off 2018 with a series of special events. Just as the full establishment of Ukrainian studies didn't happen with a single bang, but saw each of three academic chairs established separately over time, we're continuing the celebration in 2019. In September, key moments from our history will be displayed in an exhibit in Knafel (CGIS North). Stay tuned for information about an opening reception.

Also of particular note this year were several personnel changes. As we welcomed our new manager of publications, Oleh Kotsyuba, we said goodbye to Lubomyr Hajda, who officially retired after more than 50 years of dedicated service to the field and the Institute. Happily, we expect to enjoy his participation in an unofficial capacity for years to come. We also laid the groundwork for an additional hire, interviewing candidates to lead a brand new program on contemporary Ukraine which we're planning to launch in 2019 with the generous support of James Temerty.

Below, you'll find more details and highlights from the past year. We're grateful for the opportunities we had to see so many colleagues and friends in 2018 and look forward to building on the momentum in the time to come.

50th Anniversary

50th posterOn January 22, 1968, the Ukrainian Studies Chair Fund, Inc., and Harvard University signed an agreement to establish and fund three chairs in Ukrainian studies (history, literature, and philology). Just over fifty years later, on May 11-12, 2018, HURI held the conference "Ukraine in the World: Fifty Years of Ukrainian Studies at Harvard" to commemorate the milestone, celebrate decades of achievements, and reflect on changes in the field.

The two-day conference included six panels with almost 30 speakers from around the US, Canada, Ukraine, and beyond. Bishop Borys Gudziak gave the keynote address at a dinner for conference participants and invited guests. Proceedings are available for viewing on our YouTube channel.

During the conference, two separate film crews conducted interviews, examined archival materials, and recorded footage of the events and of HURI in general. Vakhtang Kipiani and his team from ZIK television in Ukraine recorded material for a documentary on the founding of Ukrainian studies at Harvard, which aired on December 22 and is available to stream onlineIryna Matviichuk from Voice of America reported on the conference and created a series of short pieces on HURI, the conference, our library collection, and MAPA: Digital Atlas of Ukraine.

50th receptionOur 50th anniversary celebration continued in December during the Association for Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) Annual Convention, which was held in Boston this year. In addition to participating in panels and showcasing our publications and programs in the exhibition hall, we hosted a reception for ASEEES guests back at Harvard, held a book launch with author and public intellectual Yaroslav Hrytsak, and hosted director Sergei Loznitsa for a screening of his award-winning feature film Donbass at ASEEES.

Furthermore, we announced that The Omeljan Pritsak Prize in Ukrainian Studies was officially established within the prestigious ASEEES book prize program, which we hope will raise the profile of the field and its talented scholars. HURI will sponsor the prize, while ASEEES has agreed to coordinate an independent committee to select a winner annually.


Fourteen talented students came to Harvard for the 2018 Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute. In addition to one very ambitious high school student from China, the cohort included undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from the US and abroad. Five students studied Ukrainian language with Volodymyr Dibrova, developing their ability to read and write Ukrainian. The remainder took subject matter courses on Ukrainian politics and literature. Serhii Bilenky (Department of Political Science, University of Toronto), who served as HUSI Director, taught Laboratory of Modernity: Politics, Culture, and Society in Ukraine, 1800-Present, and George Grabowicz taught Revolutionary Ukraine: Avant-garde Literature and Film from 1917 to the Euromaidan of 2014.

Senkowsky prize winnersThis year's Senkowsky Prize recipients, who were recognized for their academic excellence and contributions to the HUSI community, were James BrowningJinning JiaSandra Joy Russell, and Taras Boyko. Congratulations!

Several HUSI students participated in the HUSI Blog, sharing insightful reflections on topics related to class or their experiences in the city. They discussed "Soviet exorcism," dark tourism, Casanova's consorts, and astonishment at Bostonians' peaceful coexistence with geese.

Help us gather another great class for HUSI 2019! Please spread the word to students, colleagues, and friends who might be interested in participating. The 2019 course offerings are:

  • Ukrainian for Reading Knowledge (Volodymyr Dibrova)
  • State-Society Relations in Independent Ukraine (Sophia Wilson)
  • Tradition and Modernity in Ukraine, 19th and 20th Centuries (Serhiy Bilenky)

For additional information, please visit the HUSI section of our website:

Events and Activities

Fishel USGDuring our weekly Seminar in Ukrainian Studies, we heard from our research fellows as well as guest presenters such as Tatiana Tairova-Yakovleva (Writing History after the Battle of Poltava: Samiilo Velychko and His Chronicle), The Daily Beast's David Patrikarakos (Russian Trolls and the Ukrainian Crisis: Adventures in Unreality), Georgiy Kasianov (Copy-Paste? Politics of History, Ukraine, 1980s – 2000s), and Ret. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev (UN as a Battlefield Between Ukraine and Russia). Politicians and diplomats also had a steady presence at our Ukraine Study Group talks; Gene Fishel (State Department) presented in both the Spring and Fall semester, and Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko discussed Ukraine's present situation and future prospects based on his experience as Ukraine's representative to the United Nations.

Pat HerlihyOne of several book talks, Patricia Herlihy's discussion of her book Odessa Recollected: The Port and the People (co-published by Academic Studies Press and HURI) was particularly memorable. Joined by Vladislav Davidzon, she recounted her adventures, discoveries, and research in Odessa. Sadly, Herlihy passed away in October. Her joyful presence and astute observations will be greatly missed at our seminars, where she was regularly an active participant, but we are grateful to have had the opportunity to know and learn from this prolific scholar.

Andrew Wilson gave the Petryshyn Memorial Lecture in Ukrainian Studies, speaking on national identities in Ukraine and Belarus since 2014. The Zenovia Sochor Parry Memorial Lecture in Ukrainian Politics, available online, was given by Phillip Karber, who evaluated evidence of a Russian invasion plan for Ukraine.

Many of our seminars and other events are available on YouTube. As we continue to fine-tune the production quality, we hope the videos will be a valuable resource for those near and far.


Polina BarskovaOur spring 2018 semester fellows carried out research on diverse topics including contemporary Ukrainian poetry, the Holodomor (Great Ukrainian Famine), and powerful Rus' women in the 13th century. The fellows presented some of their research at our Seminar in Ukrainian Studies throughout the semester:

  • Polina BarskovaUkrainian Poetry in Time of Crisis
  • Nataliia Levchuk: Estimating the 1932-34 Famine Losses in Ukraine at the National, Regional, and Local Levels
  • Talia ZajacA Rus' Princess in Thirteenth-Century Poland: Cultural and Political Connections Between the Courts of Krakow and Galicia-Volhynia during the Reign of Duchess Gremislava Ingvarovna, c. 1227-1258 [Read more]

DigenisThe fall semester brought a fresh group of fellows and presentations:

  • Natalia Khanenko-FriesenRemembering Decollectivization in Ukraine: An Oral History
  • Gennadi KorolovBetween Germany and Russia: East European Federalist Utopias and Re-imaginings of “Homeland” (1916-1921)
  • Robert RomanchukThe Old Slavic Digenis Akritis: Its ‘Formulaic Style’ and the Question of Adaptation or Translation [Read more]

In addition to these fellows, HURI hosted Fulbright scholar Olha Poliukhovych, who shared her research on Yurii Kosach, and is currently hosting Olga Khomenko, another Fulbright scholar.

Seven research fellows will soon arrive at HURI for the spring term. We're looking forward to learning from them during their seminar presentations. Read more about the 2018-2019 research fellows here.

MAPA: Digital Atlas of Ukraine

After working on the MAPA’s Revolution of Dignity project in the 2016-2017 academic year, the MAPA team returned to the Great Famine (Holodomor) project for the spring 2018 term. With Nataliia Levchuk in residence as the HURI MAPA Project Research Fellow, the team added new, highly nuanced data to the Famine web map, enabling researchers and other MAPA users to see a more fine-tuned representation of how famine losses varied throughout Ukraine and to explore which factors were significant causes of starvation in specific areas.

procure 04 ratio plan procure 1931 32 1930 31

Effectively tripling the number of map layers available in the web map, the new raion-level data includes population statistics, such as rural population density and ethnic structure; economic indicators, such as grain procurement quotas, planned grain quotas, actual grain quotas, and percentage of fulfillment; geographical information about wheat crops, such as the percentage of land used for wheat, the percentage of crop area owned by independent farmers, collective, or state farms; and collectivization rates.

Information about the MAPA project was published both on HURI's website and in the media, including:

Levchuk MAPA Presentation 9MAPA information was also disseminated through a number of demonstrations and presentations throughout the year. Viktoriya Sereda, who was a MAPA Fellow in 2017 and returns as a MAPA Fellow in 2019, presented her research in Ukraine and throughout Europe, while Kostyantyn Bondarenko (MAPA Project Manager) and Serhii Plokhii (MAPA Faculty Director) demonstrated MAPA capabilities and insights at events such as a digital humanities panel at Harvard and the ASEEES Convention. Levchuk and Bondarenko presented the famine project progress at a spring event hosted by HURI, Mapping the Great Famine in Ukraine: Giving Voice to the Voiceless.

Thanks to the work of Tom Mueller, a geography professor at California University of Pennsylvania, MAPA's use as a teaching tool has been explored more concretely. His lesson plan for teaching students to explore language in Ukraine using the interactive mapping tools is available on the MAPA website and he will continue to develop geography lesson plans using MAPA for university and K-12 students. As an educational associate for MAPA, he will expand the program's outreach efforts.


The Ukrainian library program has continued its ongoing efforts toward collection development, new acquisitions, and archival and reference work. In addition to regular purchases of about 2,000 titles of books and periodicals for the Ukrainian collection at Harvard, notable acquisitions include two e-resources from East View and an archival collection.

radiation_levels_kyiv_may_1_1986.pngThe Chernobyl Files: Declassified Documents of the Ukrainian KGB offers access to full-text PDF copies of declassified documents from 1971-1991 pertaining to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and its fallout. The papers include documentation of the disaster details as well as internal investigations that examined structural and other shortcomings that contributed to the explosion and how much the Soviet government knew in advance. The second e-resource, Ukrainian Publications, is a database of about 50 newspapers and magazines in Ukrainian, Russian, and English covering a broad range of political, economic, and cultural affairs in Ukraine.

pic B A Barka VasylOur new archival collection The Vasyl Barka Papers, 1968-1981 was generously donated by Roman KucChristine Jacobson, a Simmons intern, organized and described this archive under Olha Aleksic's supervision. There are 6 boxes of archival materials with one of those boxes including unidentified materials, which potentially could be Barka’s unpublished works. As Barka was a noted poet, writer, literary critic, and translator, this archival collection is of interest to literary scholars, those who study Ukrainian literature, and, in particular, works of Ukrainian diaspora writers.

Aleksic reports that this collection might be expanded through the generosity of Larisa Pastuchiv, a daughter of Barka's close friend, who expressed the desire to donate Barka’s photographs, correspondence, and other materials. As such, this collection may expand to include materials that would give researchers insight not only into Barka’s writings, but into his personality as well.


kotsyubaIn February, Oleh Kotsyuba joined HURI's staff as its manager of publications with a bold new vision to raise the profile of HURI publications. To do so, he proposed measures to streamline processes, increase productivity, expand subject matter, and utilize modern technology to give the program a fresh edge. Many of these ideas have already been set in motion.

This fall, under the skillful editorship of Halyna Hryn, HURI published the latest volume of the journal Harvard Ukrainian StudiesVolume 35, The Battle for Ukrainian: A Comparative Perspective, edited by Andrea Graziosi and Michael S. Flier, includes articles on the Ukrainian language, case studies of other multilingual countries, and a set of book reviews. The HUS team began using an online journal management system, Scholastica, which makes it easier for authors to submit articles and track their progress from initial review to revisions to publication. Coming in 2019, readers will be able to access HUS articles online through a standalone, feature-rich website at The essential groundwork for the website was completed in 2018 and the site is expected to launch this spring.

Significant progress was made in preparing Horace Lunt’s English translation of Rus' Primary Chronicle (based on the Hypatian Codex and edited by Michael Flier) for publication, including the painstaking toponym work completed by Michelle Viise (monographs editor). Other ongoing projects include:Hrytsak cover

  • The Uniate Church and the Partitions of Poland: Episcopal Politics and Religious Survival in an Age of Enlightened Absolutism, by Larry Wolff
  • Jews in Old Rus´: A History in Documents, by Alexander Kulik
  • Challenging the Code: Essays on Ukrainian Literature and Culture, edited by Halyna Hryn and Roman Koropeckyj
  • Kyivan Chronicle, translated by T. Čyževs´ka and P. Hollingsworth
  • Teraturgēma, by Afanasij Kal´nofojs´kyj, translated by Paulina Lewin
  • Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament: A History, by Yuri Kostenko, edited by Svitlana Krasynska

HURI co-published several volumes, including Odessa Recollected: The Port and the People, by Patricia Herlihy (with Academic Studies Press, November 2018); and Ivan Franko and His Community, by Yaroslav Hrytsak, trans. Marta Daria Olynyk (with Academic Studies Press and the Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies, November 2018).

Lubomyr Hajda: Fifty Years of Ukrainian Studies

Lubomyr HajdaAfter more than 50 years of involvement in Ukrainian studies at Harvard, including 25 years as Associate Director, Lubomyr Hajda has retired from his post as Senior Advisor to the Director at HURI.

A student of Omeljan Pritsak, Hajda’s involvement in HURI preceded its founding. He participated in the fundraising process as Pritsak and others honed the idea for the Ukrainian studies program at Harvard and was instrumental in establishing many of the activities that remain an integral part of the Institute today.

Hajda officially joined HURI’s staff in 1992, when then-director George Grabowicz hired him for the role of Associate Director. Since then, he has served the Institute in countless capacities. He managed the journal Harvard Ukrainian Studies for two years, subsequently maintaining an active role as a member of its editorial board. He taught at HUSI for two years and, when the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine brought new questions and challenges for the Western world in the 1990s, Hajda shaped an intense summer series for state department and other government officials to quickly learn essential information about Ukraine.

tea hajdaIn addition to overseeing the Seminar in Ukrainian Studies for many years, he brought several new programs into existence, including the Ukraine Study Group, the Zenovia Sochor Parry Memorial Lecture in Ukrainian Politics, and numerous conferences and symposia (covering topics such as the gas crisis in Europe, the Orange Revolution, and the Holodomor). Eugene Shklar, having met Hajda in a student group as a Harvard student, turned to him nearly three decades later with the generous intention to fund research on Ukraine. Together with then-director Roman Szporluk, they developed the novel idea for a fellowship program that would support mid-career scholars, rather than focus on a specific topic or theme. The highly successful Shklar Fellowship program continues today as HURI Research Fellowships.

Lubko and awardBeyond his scholarly and programmatic contributions, Hajda has brought great heart to the HURI community. Repeatedly, he has gone beyond the call of duty, whether that meant facilitating emergency medical care or welcoming a cohort of fellows into his home to share in Thanksgiving festivities. Above all, Hajda has consistently maintained a deep commitment to what "this"—Ukrainian studies, the Institute, Ukraine per se—is all about. And that devotion has left an indelible mark on HURI, Harvard, and Ukrainian studies for years to come.

Thank you, Lubko, for your many years of hard work, fresh ideas, and kind assistance.


See also: HURI projects