365 Days of Oral History of the War

Interview-based projects on witnessing the impact of the Russian war in Ukraine

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen

On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a massive invasion of Ukraine, and fatalities and other casualties have rapidly mounted. In response to this unfolding humanitarian trauma of massive proportions, hundreds of researchers, professionals, and community activists in Ukraine, various countries in Europe and beyond, turned to recording and documenting the flood of testimonies unleashed by the war. The scale of this massive research mobilization is as unprecedented as the scale of displacement and trauma that the war caused. 

With the beginning of this renewed attack of Russia on Ukraine, The Huculak Chair of Ukrainian Culture and Ethnography immediately engaged in scholarly outreach, advocacy work, delivery of training of prospective researchers, and monitoring the ongoing interview-based research of the war. As a rapid response initiative,  Dr. Khanenko-Friesen led the organization of the inaugural Witnessing the War in Ukraine: Summer Institute in Oral History. The institute was initiated and organized in collaboration with five other international partners, and held at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow from 16-19 July 2022. 12 globally recognized key voices in oral history, refugee, genocide and war studies, transitional justice, anthropology, and 35 practicing oral historians and interviewers from Ukraine and around the world debated and discussed research needs and fieldwork challenges of interview-based research in the context of the ongoing war on Ukraine.

After the completion of the first institute, Dr. Khanenko-Friesen continued monitoring research initiatives, and by 24  February 2023, the oral history interview-based project database was created, now profiling interview-based oral history projects announced and pursued by various teams between February 2022 and February 2023. Anna Olenenko, PhD student at the UAlberta and oral historian from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, joined the project as a Research Assistant (winter-spring 2023).

The database presented here contains a variety of ongoing interview-based projects that were publicly announced during this period. War testimony collection and research has been evolving very rapidly in the field of Ukrainian studies and has attracted many established and new researchers. Thus, this database does not present the complete account of all projects that may have been initiated in the same period, as many projects were and continue to be conducted locally without much publicity or promotion.

In order to attempt some preliminary analysis of the war-testimony research currently being pursued, and assess the scope, directions, and dimensions of this growing field of research, some criteria needed to be established to allow one to work with gathered information in some methodologically justifiable ways. Тhe following criteria were established. Projects had to (a) be based on interviewing witnesses of the war as a key method of data collection, (b) demonstrate focus and methodological integrity, and (c) be publicly announced either on social media, or institutional webpages. Thus, many projects that may have been initiated and conducted without public promotion are not necessarily reflected in this database. 

This growing field of testimony research has been discussed at various academic venues in 2022/23. The following presentation was featured at the Language and War conference in Hannover, Germany (February 24, 2023).

See the full presentation

Link to Database

Field of study diagram
Countries where research team is based
Countries where research team is based
European countries where research team is based
Ukrainian cities where research team is based
Countries where research is being conducted
Ukraine based teams focus on
Foreign teams focus on
Target research group Ukraine based teams
Target research group foreign teams


If you would like to share with us details about similar projects that were initiated and conducted (and not necessarily completed) between February 2022 and February 2023 please fill out this Google Intake Form

This Project update is published on 5 June 2023. 

To reference this database, please use this text — Natalia Khanenko-Friesen, 365 Days of Oral history of the War—Interview-based projects on the Russo-Ukrainian war (24.02. 2022—24.02.2023). University of Alberta: Kule Folklore Centre. 2023 (weblink)


Other Resources:

WWSI 2023