Thursday, 18 June 2015

Contested Grounds

I have already mentioned my disappointment with North American University professors and academics who continue to espouse a tainted history of Eastern Europe post WWII. How do you like this phrase, given recent events in Canadian history - I like to refer to myself as an "aboriginal Ukrainian"! With genealogical roots (based on National Geographic's Genome Project) of some 9 thousand years in Western Ukraine, what else could you call me? Like many of us "aboriginal Ukrainians", whether we live in Ukraine or not, our familial narrative is replete with the strangely twisted history of Ukraine and Ukrainians. Of course to the neophite it all sounds gobbled. And sound bits definitely do our ancestry disservice. So I am glad to share news of some impressive initiatives with you!

Our community's good friend Bulba is now working on a committee organizing one of the most significant Ukrainian/Eastern Europe themed International Conferences ever held in Western Canada - this October 23, 24, 2015. The Ukrainian academic community is uniting to help educate the world about Ukraine and Eastern Europe in the light of Russian policy. One could say it is about the information gap between those who write history and those who live it.

This is the Edmonton Conference to Examine the Impact of WWII on Ukraine and Eastern Europe - scheduled to take place at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies October 23 and 24, 2015. Titled “Contested Ground: The Legacy of the Second World War for Eastern Europe,” the gathering will take place at the University of Alberta on 23-24 October 2015 and will be open to scholars, students and members of the general public. Please consider your participation!

The immediate and long term repercussions of the Yalta and Potsdam agreements, Moscow's "sphere of influence", the Ukrainian post-war experience, the Warsaw Pact, and Cold War - the conference will also consider how narratives of war intentionally shaped by international forces have acquired a new relevance.  My eyes were recently enlightened by Jerrold Schecter's recent article in European Affairs  to as the "Bolshevik Code" (  Such thinking contributes to the train of thought, richly underscored by memories of veterans, survivors and the Ukrainian international community.

A distinguished group of scholars has already agreed to present papers at the Edmonton conference. These include such experts from overseas as Paul Goble (Tartu University, Estonia), Yitzak Brudny (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Hakan Kirimli (Bilkent University, Turkey), and former Polish Minister of Defense Janusz Onyszkiewicz (International Centre for Democratic Transition). Among the American participants are Norman Naimark (Stanford University), Mark Von Hagen (Arizona State University), Janusz Bugajski (Centre for European Policy Analysis) and Ariel Cohen (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security). These will be joined by Ukrainian scholars like Yuri Shapoval and Vladyslav Hrynevych of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, as well as leading specialists from several Canadian universities. James Sherr of Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) in the United Kingdom will be the featured speaker at a public banquet to be held on 24 October to mark the conclusion of the conference. A worldrenowned authority on Russia and Ukraine, he will address the theme "The 'Peace of 1945' and the Current State of Affairs in Ukraine." More details to come!  

Kudos' to these distinguished contributors who will also help mark the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.  More information at
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