Annual Bohdan Medwidsky Memorial Lecture 2024

13 March 2024

Presented by Dr. Mariya Lesiv

April 5, 2024 | 3pm MST
BUS 3-05, School of Business, University of Alberta

War produces intense emotions that are frequently expressed in creative ways. The full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia has resulted in numerous such expressions communicated on the Internet. Frequently rooted in traditional curses, the Ukrainian folklore of anger may be disturbing to many Western outsiders who treat tolerance, positivity, and niceness as societal virtues. In line with a folkloristic approach rooted in the understanding of insider perspectives behind creative practices, I look at war-generated folklore by contextualizing the voices of its performers, namely, people directly affected by the Russian aggression. The concept of Russian systemic vernacular imperialism, as historically manifested in smaller-scale imaginaries and acts – in the words and behaviours of regular citizens – and its role in fueling the ongoing war can shed some light on complex human emotions in traumatic contexts. It can also contribute to ongoing scholarly efforts to decolonize regional studies involving Ukraine and other countries that have historically operated under the Russian orbit.

Dr. Mariya Lesiv is an Associate Professor of Folklore and current Head of the Folklore Department at Memorial University. She is the author of The Return of Ancestral Gods: Modern Ukrainian Paganism as an Alternative Vision for a Nation published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2013. Her work on belief and politics, religious folklife, diasporic culture, and folk art has also appeared in edited volumes as well as scholarly journals, including Anthropologica, Journal of American Folklore, Ethnologies, Western Folklore, and Folklorica. With Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby, she recently co-edited a special issue of Folklorica devoted to folklore and protest. Mariya is a recipient of a Social Studies and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant for her fieldwork-based project “Host­Region: Post­Socialist Diaspora Communities in Newfoundland,” devoted to recent immigrants to the province from the former Socialist countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Mariya is a former President of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada and current President of the Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Folklore Association.

Dr. Bohdan Medwidsky (1936-2021) was the founder of the Ukrainian Folklore Program, Kule Folklore Centre (KuFC), and the Ukrainian Folklore Archives at the University of Alberta. Without his foresight, perseverance, and wisdom, KuFC and many other Ukrainian Canadian organizations would not be where they are today.

In-person and virtual event. Registration required.

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