Historians and the War: Rethinking the Future

 

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Historians and the War: Rethinking the Future -

A Background


The world is in the midst of the largest war in Europe since 1945. On 24 February 2022, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation launched a massive and ferocious invasion of Ukraine, following on an earlier illegal occupation of Crimea and the Donbas region in 2014. Today, fatalities and other casualties are rapidly mounting as a humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented proportions unfolds. 

The Russian military aggression against Ukraine is an assault on Ukraine's sovereignty, democracy, people, and their very right to exist as a nation. It is also a threat to global democratic order, peace, security, international relations, and economic stability. President Putin unleashed this war not only to erase Ukraine but also to erase Ukrainian history—thus making history overall a key part in this growing geopolitical crisis. 

Historians are now facing an urgent need to respond to such undoing of history by the Kremlin. The current war requires us to rethink basic views about modern European history, especially about its 20-century empires and nation-states, regimes and ideologies, remembrance of World War II and mass crimes.

Historians also have a responsibility to address an emerging epistemological paradigm shift in historical studies that has been set in motion by this war. Going forward, how should we conceive the past? Are we again facing the question that was posed to the historian Marc Bloch by a French army officer during the "Phoney War" of 1940: "Are we to believe that history has betrayed us?" More particularly, going forward, how should we be defining the field of East European Studies, traditionally dominated by Russianists and the Russian historical perspective? 

To explore these and related questions, we invite you to join the newly launched International Seminar Series "Historians and the War: Rethinking the Future."

"Rethinking the Future" is a joint initiative of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, the Department of Eastern European History at Munich University, the German-Ukrainian Historians' Commission, the Ukraine-based scholarly journal Ukraina Moderna, and the Ukrainian Catholic University Lviv.

Seminar meetings are planned to be held monthly via Zoom.

 


Past Seminars


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First Seminar

4 May, 2022

6:30-8:00 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. MDT (UTC -6)

The seminar hosted Professor Margaret MacMillan, professor of history at the University of Oxford and the University Toronto. She is a leading expert on the history of international relations and war. Prof. MacMillan has authored numerous books, including her most recent synthetic work War: How Conflict Shaped Us (2020). The book is largely based on the 2018 Reith Lectures, which can be accessed here.

 


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Second Seminar

26 May, 2022

6:00-7:30 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 10:00-11:30 a.m. MDT (UTC -6)

This seminar was titled "Rethinking the Second World War in Light of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine" and was held in Ukrainian and English with simultaneous translation. The speakers were:

  • Olena Stiazhkina, Institute for History of Ukraine, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine);
  • Oleksandr Lysenko, Institute for History of Ukraine, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine);
  • Martin Dean, Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (Kyiv, Ukraine);
  • Kai Struve, Martin Luther University (Halle, Germany)

The moderator was Gelinada Grinchenko, Karazin National University (Kharkiv, Ukraine) / Wuppertal University (Wuppertal, Germany).

 

 


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Third Seminar

9 June, 2022

7:00-9:00 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. MDT (UTC -6)

This seminar was titled "Historians and the War: A Discussion with Prof. Timothy Snyder" and was held in Ukrainian and English with simultaneous translation.

Timothy Snyder is professor of history at Yale University and permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, author of numerous publications on the history of Central and Eastern Europe and the Holocaust, including Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin and On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.

The seminar was chaired by Martin Schulze Wessel, Ludwig Maximilian University (Munich, Germany).

 


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Fourth Seminar

23 June, 2022

6:00-8:00 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 10:00-12:00 p.m. MDT (UTC -6)

This seminar was titled “Rashism/Ruscism – Is Russia Fascist?” The speakers were:

  • Marlene Laruelle, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University (Washington, USA)
  • Oleksandr Zaitsev, Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv, Ukraine)
  • Roger Griffins, Oxford Brookes University (Oxford, UK)
  • Andreas Umland, Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies (SCEEUS) at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (Stockholm, Sweden)

The panel was chaired by Kai Struve, Martin Luther University (Halle, Germany).

 


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Fifth Seminar

14 July, 2022

6:00 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 10:00 a.m. MDT (UTC -6)

Our fifth seminar was "Historians and the War: A Discussion with Prof. Larry Wolff". Larry Wolff is the Silver Professor of History at New York University and the author of numerous publications on the history of Central and Eastern Europe, including Woodrow Wilson and the Reimagining of Eastern Europe (Stanford University Press, 2020).

The seminar was chaired by Frank Sysyn, University of Alberta (Canada).

 


Sixth Seminar

28 July, 2022

6:00 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 10:00 a.m. MDT (UTC -6)

The sixth online seminar of the series, titled "Testimonies about the War in Ukraine: How to Conduct Interview-Based Research," took place on 28 July, 2022.

The invited speakers were:

The panel was chaired by Gelinada Grinchenko, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University / Bergische Universität Wuppertal.

 


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Seventh Seminar

8 September, 2022

6:00 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 10:00 a.m. MDT (UTC -6)

The seventh online seminar of the series, titled "Stalin's Genocides, Soviet Warfare, and Atrocities of the Russian Army: From Soviet Mass Crimes to the Current War in Ukraine – Continuity or Change?," took place on 8 September 2022.

The invited speakers were:

The panel was chaired by Kai Struve, Martin Luther University (Halle, Germany).

 


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Eighth Seminar

29 September, 2022

6:00 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 10:00 a.m. MDT (UTC -6)

The eighth online seminar of the series, titled "Ukraine in Russia's Historical Politics: Legitimation of Aggression," took place on 29 September, 2022.

The invited speakers were:

  • Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv, Ukraine)
  • Martin Schulze Wessel, Ludwig Maximilian University (Munich, Germany)
  • Tomasz Stryjek, Polish Academy of Science (Warsaw, Poland)
  • Serhii Pahomenko, University of Latvia (Riga, Latvia) / George Washington University (Washington, USA)
  • Denys Shatalov, Prisma Ukraїna Fellow / Forum Transregionale Studien (Berlin, Germany)

The panel was chaired by Oleksandr Zaitsev, Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv, Ukraine).

 


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Ninth Seminar

6 October, 2022

6:00 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 10:00 a.m. MDT (UTC -6)

The ninth online seminar of the series, titled “Occupation as a Daily Challenge: Life in Ukraine’s Occupied Territories During Wars Past and Present”," took place on 6 October, 2022.

The invited speakers were:

  • Tatjana Tönsmeyer, University of Wuppertal, (Wuppertal, Germany)
  • Andrii Domanovski, Special Correspondent of the Information Agency АрміяInform of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense; former lecturer at the V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University (Kharkiv, Ukraine)
  • Gelinada Grinchenko, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University / University of Wuppertal

The panel was chaired by Oleksandr Lysenko, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine).

 


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Tenth Seminar

27 October, 2022

6:00 p.m. CET (UTC +2) / 10:00 a.m. MDT (UTC -6)

The tenth online seminar of the series, titled “The Human Toll of a War: Comparative Perspectives on Displacement, Resettlement, and Emigration of Ukrainians in the 20th and 21st Centuries,”  took place on 27 October, 2022.

The invited speakers were:

  • Lubomyr Luciuk, Royal Military College of Canada (Kingston, Canada);
  • Oksana Mikheeva, European University Viadrina (Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany)/Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv, Ukraine);
  • Viktoriya Sereda, PRISMA UKRAÏNA (Berlin, Germany)/Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv, Ukraine).

The panel was chaired by Natalia Khanenko-Friesen, University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada).

The loss of human life  is one of the direct outcomes of wars, but wars also lead to massive forced displacement of large populations across huge geographic and political terrains. In historical perspective, war-induced large scale demographic transfers and resettlement led to a variety of outcomes each extensively affecting the society and the country that experienced the loss and those societies and countries that received the refugees. 

What are these outcomes? What should we be paying our attention to when it comes to such a massive exodus of the refugees from Ukraine? How does today’s experience of forced displacement compare to those that took place in the 20th century?

 


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Eleventh Seminar

17 November, 2022

6:00 p.m. CET (UTC +1) / 10:00 a.m. MST (UTC -7)

The eleventh online seminar of the series, titled 𝗘𝗺𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻-𝗦𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘁, 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗙𝘂𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲: 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝘂𝘀𝘀𝗼-𝗨𝗸𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗪𝗮𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗗𝗲𝗯𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗻 𝗗𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗶𝘇𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗘𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻 𝗘𝘂𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗻 𝗦𝘁𝘂𝗱𝗶𝗲𝘀,”  took place on 17 November, 2022.

The invited speakers were:

The panel was chaired by Natalia Khanenko-Friesen, University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada).

 


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Twelfth Seminar

15 December, 2022

6:00 p.m. CET (UTC +1) / 10:00 a.m. MST (UTC -7)

The twelfth online seminar of the series, titled “Weapons of a Different Kind: Propaganda and Disinformation in Wars and Conflicts throughout Ukraine's Modern History,”  took place on 15 December, 2022.

The invited speakers were:

The panel was chaired by Kai Struve, Martin Luther University (Halle, Germany).

 


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Thirteenth Seminar

12 January, 2023

6:00 p.m. CET (UTC +1) / 10:00 a.m. MST (UTC -7)

The eleventh online seminar of the series, a Discussion with Professor Timothy Garton Ash, took place on 12 January, 2023.

The seminar was chaired by Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv, Ukraine) and Martin Schulze Wessel, University of Munich (Germany).