Memorable Moments from ASEEES 2016

January 25, 2017

The 2016 Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) Convention, themed “Global Conversations,” was held in Washington, DC on November 17-20. This annual meeting brings together experts in the field to participate in panel discussions, showcase their publications, and connect with peers. The Ukrainian Research Institute was well-represented at this year’s convention with a display table and multiple participants in panel presentations.

HURI publications on display at ASEEES

Soroka presentationAt our booth in the exhibition hall, convention attendees could peruse our informational materials and publications, including these new books and journals from the past few years:

  • ЖНИВА: Essays Presented in Honor of George G. Grabowicz on His Seventieth Birthday, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vols. 32-33, edited by Roman Koropeckyj, Maxim Tarnawsky, and Taras Koznarsky (2011-2014)
  • The World to Come: Ukrainian Images of the Last Judgment by Liliya Berezhnaya and John-Paul Himka (August 2015)
  • Ties of Kinship: Genealogy and Dynastic Marriage in Kyivan Rus’ by Christian Raffensperger (April 2016)
  • Peasants, Power, and Place: Revolution in the Villages of Kharkiv Province, 1914–1921 by Mark R. Baker (August 2016)
  • The Future of the Past: New Perspectives on Ukrainian History, edited by Serhii Plokhy (January 2017)

The booth was staffed by Marika Whaley (publications manager), Halyna Hryn (Harvard Ukrainian Studies editor), Michelle Viise (monographs editor), Kristina Conroy (communications manager), and Madeline Kinkel (HUS student assistant), who met scholars, connected with colleagues, and caught up with some of our authors. Tamara Nary (programs administrator) was also present to answer questions about our fellowship opportunities.

Panels on Ukrainian topics

Former HURI fellows, HUSI alumni, HURI associates, faculty, and staff contributed to panels throughout the convention. Our MAPA IT director, Kostyantyn Bondarenko, presented his paper on HURI’s MAPA: Digital Archive of Ukraine project, detailing the insights derived from charting Holodomor data on maps of Ukraine. While the presentation focused on the conclusions HURI has drawn from the project, Bondarenko also explained that the module is designed as a resource for scholars to create their own visuals and assessments. By adjusting ranges and variables, they can compare trends and create a visual representation of specific data sets. Furthermore, researchers can import their own data into the maps, which are especially valuable because they are accurate to the time period during which the famine took place.

                                                                         Kostyantyn Bondarenko presents MAPA at ASEEES

Serhii Plokhii, Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University and director of the Institute, chaired a panel entitled “Global Conversations: Ukrainian Diaspora and Formation of Ukrainian Intellectual Self in Soviet and Post-Soviet Space.” This panel included papers by Sergei Ivanovich Zhuk, who recently gave a seminar at HURI; Volodymyr Sklokin, a former Shklar Fellow; and Volodymyr Kravchenko, who is on the advisory board for HUS. Discussions covered how the Ukrainian diaspora’s images, ideas, and cultural practices influenced Ukrainian intellectuals and scholarly research on American and Ukrainian history.

Soroka presentationPlokhii was also a discussant on the panel, “History is Politics Projected into the Past: Ukraine between Russia and the EU,” which included presentations by George Soroka, Harvard lecturer and HURI associate; Tomasz Stepniewski, John Paul II Catholic University associate professor and Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute 2005 alumnus; and Serhiy Bilenky, University of Toronto Lecturer and HUSI 2017 director. The panel focused on “the conversations concerning Ukraine’s historical identity and destiny that occur between contemporary politicians in Kyiv, Moscow, and the wider European Union” and how they shape foreign policy outcomes for post-Maidan Ukraine (quoted from the panel abstract).

Halyna Hryn chaired the panel, “Crafted Souls: Authors, Fictions, Societies.” This panel included two of the editors of ЖНИВА: Essays Presented in Honor of George G. Grabowicz on His Seventieth Birthday: Taras Koznarsky and Maxim Tarnawsky. Yuliya Ilchuk, the third presenter, was a Eugene and Daymel Shklar Research Fellow in Ukrainian Studies during the 2014-15 academic year.

Serhii Plokhii offers remarks at ASEEES“The ‘Crafted Souls’ panel explored how writers’ identities (‘souls’) and place in society are explained, and subsequently essentialized, through the prism of their works or behavior,” said Hryn. “In their papers on Nikolai Gogol, Panteleimon Kulish, and Ivan Franko, the panelists examined these authors’ ‘souls’ in terms of national identity, spiritual fervor, philosophic views, or perception of human nature.”

At a panel focused exclusively on the Holodomor—“New Perspectives and Findings on the Famine (Holodomor) of 1932-1933 in Ukraine”—participants examined the way the famine events were covered in Canadian press (Jars Balan), the writings of early Ukrainian émigrés (Bohdan Klid), and new analyses of data on the Holodomor (Oleh Wolowyna). Wolowyna was a contributor to the Holodomor module of our MAPA project, and his current research integrates data from Russia for a comparative perspective. During his presentation, he advocated a demographic-historiographic process to overcome challenges in researching the famine, and noted some preliminary links between resistance to collectivization, repression, and Holodomor losses. Read more about a similar presentation in Toronto here.

Among other HURI-associated participants, recent HUSI graduate Grace Mahoney presented her paper, “The Uses of the Body: Critical Identities in the Work of Tistol and Petyluk.” Mahoney was one of the recipients of the Theodosius and Irene Senkowsky Prize for Achievement in Ukrainian Studies this past summer, which recognizes exceptional work and contribution to the intellectual and cultural life of the program. Sarah McEleney, another HUSI graduate and Senkowsky Prize winner, also attended the convention.

“This was my first time at the ASEEES convention, and I was impressed by the sheer range of different panels on history, literature, teaching, and cultural studies,” McEleney said. “I was glad to have the opportunity to learn about new developments in the area of digital humanities within Slavic and Eastern European studies, and I attended the first-ever ASEEES THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) hosted by the Slavic Digital Humanities Affiliate Group.”

Celebration in honor of George G. Grabowicz

George G Grabowicz reception at ASEEESFor HURI, one of the high points of this year’s convention was our reception honoring George G. Grabowicz upon the publication of his Festschrift, ЖНИВА, and our recent publications. The two-volume Festschrift was created in honor of Grabowicz’s 70th birthday and provides an excellent overview of the field of Ukrainian studies. The 49 essays by scholars from around the world examine subjects related to Grabowicz’s interests, and the collection was edited by his former students (now colleagues), Roman Koropeckyj, Maxim Tarnawsky, and Taras Koznarsky.

HURI ASEEES ReceptionAs guests nibbled on light refreshments and sipped champagne, several speakers offered their reflections on the Festschrift and Grabowicz’s contribution to the field. Harvey Goldblatt (professor at Yale University and HURI associate), Serhii Plokhii, Michael Flier, and Halyna Hryn took their turns at the podium, to be followed by the honoree himself.

“Attending HURI's event for Dr. George Grabowicz was also a highlight of the conference for me,” McEleney noted. “Listening to the speakers helped me learn about the history of Ukrainian studies in North America and Dr. Grabowicz's contribution to it.”

The reception brought many of the leading experts in Ukrainian studies together in one room, creating a valuable opportunity to catch up with friends and discuss projects with colleagues. And in that, it carried on the spirit of the ASEEES convention as a whole—with, of course, a special focus on Ukrainian studies.

See also: Conference