Newsletter: New Books in Ukrainian Studies | Winter - Spring 2023

Iryna Skubii Discussion

Akinsha, Konstantin, Katia Denysova, and Olena Kashuba-Volvach. In the Eye of the Storm. Modernism in Ukraine, 1900–1930s. Thames & Hudson, 2023.

In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900–1930s presents the ground-breaking art produced in Ukraine in the early 20th century, focusing on the three key cultural centres of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa. Against a complicated socio-political backdrop of collapsing empires, World War I, the revolutions of 1917 with the ensuing Ukrainian War of Independence, and the eventual creation of Soviet Ukraine, several strands of distinctly Ukrainian art emerged. Twelve internationally renowned scholars, including curators from the National Art Museum of Ukraine, bring to life this astonishing period of creativity in Ukraine and all the movements it encompassed.


Almes, I. ed.; editorial board: U. Holovatch, Y. Hrytsak, D. Syroyid, A. Yasinovskyi. Sub ficu. Collection in Memory of Ihor Skochylias. Lviv: Ukrainian Catholic University 2022. 344 pp. (“Kyivan Christianity” Series, vol. 25).

This collection in memory of Ihor Skochylias (1967–2020), professor of the Ukrainian Catholic University and Habilitated Doctor of History, contains articles by researchers from scholarly institutions of Ukraine, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Canada, et. al. The edition contains new source materials in Latin and Polish together with their translations into Ukrainian, research on the history of the religious culture of early modern Kyivan Christianity, as well as scholar investigations on the historiography of the Modern Period.


Dudko, Oksana. “A Conceptual Limbo of Genocide: Russian Rhetoric, Mass Atrocities in Ukraine, and the Current Definition’s Limits.” Canadian Slavonic Papers 64, no. 2–3 (July 3, 2022): 133–45.

The presence of multiple, semantically opposed usages of the term “genocide” not only poses a challenge for legally defining Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine, but also exemplifies the constraints of international law in dealing with mass civilian destruction in the twenty-first century. Indeed, despite widespread evidence of Russia’s genocidal behaviour, few scholars and lawyers believe it would be legally possible to prove Russia’s genocide in Ukraine. Nonetheless, given the powerful public image of genocide as the “crime of crimes,” political usage of the term by politicians, activists, and the general public has intensified since the beginning of Russia’s 2022 invasion with the hope of attracting global attention to (and ceasing) Russia’s atrocities. This paper provides some preliminary observations on how and why the concept of genocide has proven to be effective in fuelling civilian destruction rather than preventing it during the invasion. It first traces how Russia’s controversial, two-pronged rhetoric of genocide has evolved over the initial months of the invasion. It then examines Russia’s atrocities and the difficulties of classifying them as genocide.


Dudko, Oksana. “Riflemen Art: Visualising ‘the Ukrainian War.’” In Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Avant-Garde and Modernism: The Impact of World War I, edited by Lidia Głuchowska and Vojtěch Lahoda, 114–45. Praga: Artefactum, Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, 2022.

Focusing on Ukrainian war art, this article explores how the Riflemen artists shaped the First World War into a “Ukrainian War”. In particular, it aims to examine how the artists visualized wartime experiences along national lines. In doing so, it focuses specifically on the Artistic Handful (Artystychna Horstka), a semi-official group of soldier-artists who operated within the Press Bureau (Presova Kvartyra), a Riflemen propaganda unit. By discussing major themes represented in Riflemen art, this article argues that by refracting the war through a national lens, the art forged a new wartime reality that subsequently transformed soldiers’ lived experiences.

In other words, the artists did not merely illustrate the war. They created it by blurring the boundaries between the “real” and “imagined” war. Tracing Riflemen art during and after the First World War, the article pays particular attention to the Riflemen’s visual propaganda art, portrait series and cartoons, and depictions of warfare and fallen soldiers. It also explores the successive “recycling” of Riflemen art in nationalistic propaganda during the interwarand the Second World War periods. Finally, sketching the perceptions of Riflemen art over the course of the 20th century, the article discusses the role of Riflemen artistic heritage within Ukrainian art.


Dudko, Oksana. “Chy Ukraina Maie Revolutsiiu? [Does Ukraine Have a Revolution?].” Ukraina Moderna 29 (2020): 9–30. (in Ukrainian).


Luciuk, Lubomyr. Operation Payback: Soviet Disinformation and Alleged Nazi War Criminals in Canada. Kashtan Press, 2022.

Based on a recently declassified KGB document, the book exposes how Soviet operatives planted “fake news” stories in North American newspapers in order to provoke discord between the Jewish and Ukrainian diasporas. Included are a collection of Dr Lubomyr Luciuk’s published op-eds on the debate about alleged Nazi and Soviet war criminals in North America and a selection of documents demonstrating how official inquiries into this matter just after the war, and more recently, concluded that claims made about “thousands” of Nazis hiding in Canada and the USA were “grossly exaggerated.” Regrettably, the latter message did not undo a false Soviet narrative that continues to be regurgitated by agents of the Russian Federation and their fellow travellers to this day, a successful stratagem for distracting attention from Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.


Mayerchyk, Mariya, Jelena Pogosjan, and Dmytro Yesypenko. Lena and Thomas Gushul: Life in Front and Behind the Camera. 2 vols. Edmonton: Peter and Doris Kule Centre for Ukrainian and Canadian Folklore, 2023.

Lena and Thomas Gushul immigrated to Canada in the beginning of the 20th century, they married in 1914, and opened their first photo studio in Coleman, AB sometime in 1917 or 1918. These Ukrainian Canadian photographers left a wonderful legacy: in addition to a rich collection of negatives and photographs, they also saved hundreds of letters written by their relatives, friends, as well as the Gushul Studio patrons. This publication consists of two volumes: the first volume is dedicated to the history of the Gushul Photo Studio and its production. The second volume contains a selection of personal letters from the Gushul archives housed at the Crowsnest Museum & Archives. The authors of this publication hope that the reader will share their love and appreciation for the talent of these photographers and the beauty of their works.

To read the content of Volume 1 and Volume 2, please follow the link.


Mirra, Carl. “Not One Inch, Unless It Is from Lisbon to Vladivostok: NATO-Russia Mythmaking and a Reimagined Kyivan Rus.” Journal of Applied History 4, no. 1–2 (December 12, 2022): 126–48.

A careful evaluation of recent history illustrates that the claim that US and NATO expansion threatens Moscow’s existence is an exaggeration. That Russia would inflate fears of NATO to pursue its global aspirations is understandable. What is less comprehensible is the degree to which influential Western thinkers, particularly on the anti-imperial US left, have promoted this narrative. This paper will examine the work of prominent US anti-imperial leftists who view the Russo-Ukrainian war through a US-centric lens, a conceptual framework that distorts the historical record. It will first document how these commentators’ explanatory models give outsized attention to US maneuvers, while neglecting regional fault lines, Russian irredentism and historical nuance. Consequently, many US anti-imperial leftists conclude that the US/NATO alliance is to blame for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This paper will explore Russia-NATO interactions and Moscow’s imperial discourse to demonstrate that the blame NATO stance obfuscates the historical record.


Perelli-Harris, Brienna, and Yuliya Hilevych. “The Triple Burden of Depopulation in Ukraine: Examining Perceptions of Population Decline.” Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 21 (2023). DOI:

In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, leading to severe population loss as millions exited the country and casualties mounted. However, population decline in Ukraine had been occurring for decades due to the triple burden of depopulation: low fertility, high mortality and substantial emigration. Ukraine had also already experienced years of armed conflict and large-scale displacement after the Russian-backed separatist movement, which started in 2014. This study investigates perspectives on depopulation using online focus groups conducted in July 2021, seven months before the current invasion. We compared discussions in eastern Ukraine, including in rural villages, the IDP-receiving city of Mariupol, the large city of Kharkiv and occupied Donetsk. Participants observed that cities were growing at the expense of rural areas. The situation in Donetsk was bleak due to mass emigration, but some participants pointed to a recent increase in births. Overall, the participants acknowledged the triple burden of depopulation in Ukraine, and the consequences of population decline, such as a shrinking labour force and rapid ageing.


Sinkevych, Nataliia. The Religiosæ Kijovienses Cryptæ by Johannes Herbinius (1675): A Description of Kyiv and Its “Sacral Space” in Early Modern Multiconfessional Discourse. Vol. 29. (Kyivan Christianity Series. Lviv: Ukrainian Catholic University, 2022.

This book is a publication of a doctoral thesis “The Religiosæ Kijovienses Cryptæ by Johannes Herbinius (1675): A Description of Kyiv and Its “Sacral Space” in Early Modern Multiconfessional Discourse”, defended 17 November 2020 at the Karl Eberhard University of Tübingen (Germany). The Religiosæ Kijovienses Cryptæ is examined within three relevant historical contexts: confessional tolerance in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, knowledge transfer in early modern Europe, and the rise of the Ruthenian national and confessional identity. Research belongs to a field that is at the junction of church and interconfessional relational history; social, political, and intellectual history; comparative theology; regional studies; and cultural anthropology.


Скочиляс, Ігор, ред.; упоряд. Дарія Сироїд, Ігор Скочиляса та Ірина Скочиляс. Собори Київської Архиєпархії XV−XVIII Століть: Документи і Матеріали [Councils of the Kyivan Archeparchy from the 15th to 18th Centuries: Documents and Proceedings]. Vol. 14. Київське Християнство. Львів: Український католицький університет, 2022.

The book is dedicated to one of the brightest phenomena of the pre-modern Ruthenian Church – Councils of the Kyivan Metropolitanate Archeparchy. The gatherings of the clergy and laypeople took place in the major administrative centers of the Archeparchy (in Vilnius, Kyiv, Minsk and Novhorodok) and, in terms of territory, embraced the lands of contemporary Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine, as well as Latvia, Poland and Russia. During the 15th–18th centuries, eparchial councils were the basis for the organizing and canonical structuring of the Orthodox and Uniate Churches, as well as a significant public forum for articulating the cultural and religious agenda of the Ruthenian nation within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish Crown. The present title encompasses 45 documents in the Latin, Polish, Ruthenian and Church Slavonic languages. This is the first time that their publication is accompanied with translations into modern Ukrainian.