New Books in Ukrainian Studies

Iryna Skubii's picture

Andrea Graziosi, Frank E. Sysyn, eds. Genocide. The Power and Problems of a Concept.   (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2022).

Since the 1980s the study of genocide has exploded, both historically and geographically, to encompass earlier epochs, other continents, and new cases. The concept of genocide has proved its worth, but that expansion has also compounded the tensions between a rigid legal concept and the manifold realities researchers have discovered. The legal and political benefits that accompany genocide status have also reduced complex discussions of historical events to a simplistic binary - is it genocide or not? - a situation often influenced by powerful political pressures.

Genocide addresses these tensions and tests the limits of the concept in cases ranging from the role of sexual violence during the Holocaust to state-induced mass starvation in Kazakh and Ukrainian history, while considering what the Armenian, Rwandan, and Burundi experiences reveal about the uses and pitfalls of reading history and conducting politics through the lens of genocide. Contributors examine the pressures that great powers have exerted in shaping the concept; the reaction Raphaël Lemkin, originator of the word “genocide,” had to the United Nations’ final resolution on the subject; France’s long-held choice not to use the concept of genocide in its courtrooms; the role of transformative social projects and use of genocide memory in politics; and the relation of genocide to mass violence targeting specific groups.

Throughout, this comprehensive text offers innovative solutions to address the limitations of the genocide concept, while preserving its usefulness as an analytical framework.


David Marples, ed. The War in Ukraine’s Donbas. Origins, Contexts, and the Future. (Central European University Press, 2021).

This collective work analyzes the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, providing a coherent picture of Ukraine and Eastern Europe in the period 2013–2020. Giving voice to different social groups, scholarly communities and agencies relevant to Ukraine’s recent history, The War in Ukraine's Donbas goes beyond simplistic media interpretations that limit the analysis solely to Vladimir Putin and Russian aims to annex Ukraine. Instead, the authors identify the deeper roots linked to the autonomy and history of Donbas as a region. The contributions explore local society and traditions and the alienation from Ukraine caused by the events of Euromaidan, which saw the removal of the Donetsk-based president Viktor Yanukovych. Other chapters address the refugee crisis, the Minsk Accords in 2014 and the impact of the new president Volodymyr Zelensky and his efforts to bring the war to an end by negotiations among Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany.

The book concludes with four proposals for a durable peace in Donbas: territorial power-sharing; the conversion of rebels into legitimate political parties; amnesty for all participants of the armed conflict; and a transitional period of several years until political institutions are fully re-established.


Olena Palko, Constantin Ardeleanu,  eds. Making Ukraine: Negotiating, Contesting, and Drawing the Borders in the Twentieth Century. (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2022).

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine have brought scholarly and public attention to Ukraine’s borders. Making Ukraine aims to investigate the various processes of negotiation, delineation, and contestation that have shaped the country’s borders throughout the past century.

Essays by contributors from various historical fields consider how, when, and under what conditions the borders that historically define the country were agreed upon. A diverse set of national and transnational contexts are explored, with a primary focus on the critical period between 1917 and 1954. Chapters are organized around three main themes: the interstate treaties that brought about the new international order in Eastern Europe in the aftermath of the world wars, the formation of the internal boundaries between Ukraine and other Soviet republics, and the delineation of Ukraine’s borders with its western neighbours. Investigating the process of bordering Ukraine in the post-Soviet era, contributors also pay close attention to the competing visions of future relations between Ukraine and Russia.

Through its broad geographic and thematic coverage, Making Ukraine illustrates that the dynamics of contemporary border formation cannot be fully understood through the lens of a sole state, frontier, or ideology and sheds light on the shared history of territory and state formation in Europe and the wider modern world.


Christopher Rundle, Anne Lange, Daniele Monticelli, eds. Translation Under Communism. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022).

This book examines the history of translation under European communism, bringing together studies on the Soviet Union, including Russia and Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Poland. In any totalitarian regime maintaining control over cultural exchange is strategically important, so studying these regimes from the perspective of translation can provide a unique insight into their history and into the nature of their power. This book is intended as a sister volume to Translation Under Fascism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and adopts a similar approach of using translation as a lens through which to examine history. With a strong interdisciplinary focus, it will appeal to students and scholars of translation studies, translation history, censorship, translation and ideology, and public policy, as well as cultural and literary historians of Eastern Europe, Soviet communism, and the Cold War period.


Dmytro Stus. Vasul Stus. Life in Creativity. Transl. by Ludmila Bachurina. (Stuttgart: Ibidem Press, 2021).

How to explain the mystery of fame? Many once well-known people who spent much of their lives at the core of historic events have fallen into oblivion since. The brilliant East Ukrainian poet and Soviet-era dissident Vasyl Stus (1938-85) became renowned only after his reburial in late Soviet Ukraine in 1989. What are the reasons for the widespread admiration for him in post-Soviet Ukrainian society? The exceptional beauty of his poetry? His stunning courage and selflessness as a Soviet dissident? The irreconcilability of his position as a human being? Or/and Vasyl Stus’ ability to feel the pain of others as his own? Trying to answer these and other questions, the poet’s son and literary scholar Dmytro Stus masterfully combines a cultural and biographical study with private recollections and observations of his father. The book offers a sometimes-paradoxical merger of genres mixing academic analysis with novelistic narration. It shows Vasyl Stus through the eyes of his son and researcher against the background of twentieth-century Ukrainian “belated” emergence as a nation-state. In 2007, the Ukrainian edition of this book won Ukraine’s prestigious Shevchenko National Prize.


В. Гінда. Інтимні стосунки та сексуальне насильство під час німецько-радянської війни в окупації і на фронті / Відп. ред. О. Є. Лисенко. НАН України. Інститут історії України. (Київ: Інститут історії України, 2021).

У монографії на основі широкої історіографічно-джерельної бази вперше в український історичній науці здійснене комплексне дослідження сексуального життя людей в екстремальних умовах німецько-радянської війни. Розкрито широке коло питань, що стосуються: зміни інтимної поведінки людей в екстремальних умовах війни, використання ними сексу як можливості вижити чи отримати необхідну інформацію у ворога; впливу сексуального інстинкту під час війни на поведінку людей та можливі сімейні проблеми, пов’язані з цим; проблеми задоволення інтимних потреб солдатами протиборчих армій і учасниками партизанських формувань та їх вирішенні; нестатутних відносин жінок і чоловіків у Червоній армії та їхній вплив на морально-психологічний стан у військах; романтичних стосунків у чоловіків і жінок в екстремальних умовах війни; проблеми сексуального насилля німецькими і радянськими солдатами та представниками партизанських з’єднань над жінками у військах і на окупованих територіях.


Мирон Кордуба. Щоденник 1918–1925. (Львів: Видавництво Українського Католицького Університету, 2021). (Серія «Україна. Європа: 1921–1939»)

«Щоденник 1918–1925» Мирона Кордуби — унікальне свідоцтво про добу Визвольних змагань 1917–1921 і кількох наступних років, коли на міжнародній арені вирішувалася справа державного статусу Галичини. Автор — відомий історик, політичний і громадський діяч, один із найактивніших організаторів Українського Таємного Університету, його викладач і декан. Його щоденник проливає світло як на міжнародний контекст подій в Галичині 1918–1923 років, так і на внутрішню динаміку подій — роботу Президії та Ширшої Президії УНРади, взаємини з УНР, ставлення до Союзу Пілсудський — Петлюра і до більшовиків. Особлива цінність «Щоденника» — погляд зсередини на організацію «держави в державі», себто функціонування квазідержавних інститутів: Колеґії референтів, Виділу одинадцятьох Народного комітету УНТП — законспірованої політичної структури, яка керувала акцією бойкоту виборів до польського Сейму і Сенату (листопад 1922 року), а також Військової організації. Видання адресоване історикам і широкій авдиторії, яка цікавиться історією Визвольних змагань та їхнім міжнародним контекстом.