Skip to main content

Understanding Ukraine History Now! event

Dr Markian Prokopovych (Associate Professor in Modern European Cultural History) gave a talk on 'Understanding Ukraine: Entanglements and Conflict in the History of East European "Bloodlands"'

The talk, which was held on 3 May 2022, forms part of the History Department's History Now! collaboration with the Gala Theatre in Durham.

The war in Ukraine has provoked unprecedented interest in the often-overlooked East European country. Many were as shocked as they were surprised about the eruption of full-scale open warfare in the middle of the continent in the twenty-first century. However, for many Ukrainians this was not surprising or unexpected – they feel that in many ways, the current conflict is only a continuation of what has been going on for some time. Ukraine’s twentieth-century history has been described as the history of ‘bloodlands’ (Timothy Snyder).

At the same time, repeated references to, and manipulations of shared histories of Ukraine and Russia in the earlier periods, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth centuries, remain obscure to the broader public in the west. Is Russian President Vladimir Putin right claiming that modern Ukraine was created by Russia, ‘more precisely, Bolshevik, communist Russia’? Is he right in declaring that ‘Ukraine never had a tradition of genuine statehood,’ that Ukrainians and Russians were the same peoples, and that Ukraine belongs to Russia’s sphere of influence? Why do questions like this matter in the contemporary context and do they bring legitimacy to a state?

A recording of the event can be found below: 

This is the image alt text