Making Knowledge on Ukraine in the Interwar Period

workshop, Pro odborníky
25. 9. 2023 – 26. 9. 2023

The workshop Making Knowledge on Ukraine in the Interwar Period, organized and supported by IOS Regensburg, the University of Regensburg, the Institute of History of the CAS, and the Lumina quaeruntur project “Images of science” in Czechoslovakia 1918-1945-1968 (Masaryk Institute and Archives, Czech Academy of Sciences), will take place on 25-26 September in Regensburg


The Russian war against Ukraine resulted in a massive displacement of Ukrainian scholars and increasing attempts to make knowledge on Ukraine. At the same time a discussion emerged about the persons who could legitimately claim expertise about the country. The figure of the expert has oscillated between the “native informants,” whose legitimacy came from their local knowledge, and “Westsplainers,” whose local expertise was questionable. Acknowledging that the question of legitimacy is also a question about the situatedness of knowledge, we propose to investigate practices of knowledge making on the Ukrainian lands, its inhabitants and its recent history, with a focus on the interwar period.

World War I put Ukraine on the mental maps of Europe, both as an imagined construct and as a body of separate political entities. Ukraine appeared on maps and in international debates, and Ukrainian intellectuals were visible like never before due to the global interest in the region and their political impetus to legitimize their own knowledge on Ukraine. After the Great War, the displacement of scholars and politicians increased their entanglements with non-Ukrainian institutions and scholars all over Europe.

At the end of WWI, the imagined Ukrainian lands were integrated as new regions into various states. In the interwar decades they remained a subject of intensified interest in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union. Inquiries involved a range of actors apart from professional academics, such as officials, citizen scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, travel authors, translators, memoirists, and photographers. Whether minorities or émigrés, Ukrainian intellectuals were subjected to power relations and often violence, which also limited their possibilities to become part of official discourses about the regions of their origins. The attitude towards them ranged from active cooperation to complete ignorance, often in reciprocity with ideologies and loyalties to state-building, nation-building or geopolitical projects.

We invite you to discuss, among others, the following questions with us:

  • How was Ukraine made (in)visible in different political settings during the interwar period?
  • How could Ukrainians influence or establish legitimate knowledge on Ukraine and Ukrainians outside of national circles? Which transnational and transregional networks provided Ukrainians with new possibilities and opportunities?
  • Who were other actors producing or contesting this knowledge? Which conflict lines arose here, especially beyond the political ones?How did epistemologies of Ukrainian Studies (Ukrainoznavstvo) change since the outbreak of World War I, and how did they influence processes of knowledge-making?
  • How did Ukrainians produce and institutionalize knowledge on the most recent history, particularly on the period of 1914-1923?
  • How did hierarchies in different state/local/regional settings influence the circumstances of knowledge production on Ukraine?
  • How was knowledge on Ukraine obliterated or unmade? Which counter-narratives to Ukrainian approaches were established, and how were they institutionalized? How was ignorance towards Ukraine produced? What forms of violence were instrumentalized to suppress the perspectives of a “national minority”?
  • We are particularly interested in transnational entanglements of the highlighted issues and also invite contributions, which don’t directly involve Ukrainian actors, but interact with knowledge on Ukraine. We welcome submissions from diverse fields of inquiry and do not attempt to limit us to specific disciplines. Interdisciplinary contributions are highly encouraged.

To join the event in hybrid form, please contact Martin Rohde

Participants will be provided with accommodation in Regensburg. We can cover the travel costs for a limited number of researchers; if you would like to be considered for financial support, please indicate this in your application.

Všechny události
workshop, Pro odborníky
25. 9. 2023 – 26. 9. 2023