Slovakia’s Museum of Ukrainian Culture

The Ukrainian-Slovak border is 60 miles long and lies largely in the Carpathians.  Communities near the border on both sides often reflect in their demographics the ethnic history of the area, with Ukrainians, Slovaks, and Rusyns present.  There are also more institution-based signs of this diversity; another 60 miles or so on the Slovak side of the border is the village of Svidník (Свидник/Svydnyk in Ukrainian), where the Museum of Ukrainian Culture is to be found.

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Decolonisation and Russia’s war against Ukraine

When the Cambridge University Libraries Decolonisation Working Group was set up in September 2020, its members agreed that the group’s terms of reference should include the following: “We recognise that while the primary colonial legacy in Cambridge libraries relates to the British Empire, Cambridge also holds material relating to other colonial powers, past and present, and this is also part of our decolonisation focus.”  The wording came about because I was keen to ensure that non-British colonial legacies should not be overlooked when we hold such extensive collections from all around the world.

The Library of Congress authority name heading for Kyïv, previously listed as Kiev.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is a devastating reminder of these other colonial legacies.  Putin has openly compared his “military operation” against Ukraine to Peter I’s wars of expansion (or, more specifically, wars of reclamation, in Putin’s narrative).  In the library context, decolonisation work to address the colonial past and its violent embracing in the present involves many areas of library activities.  This post provides just a few initial suggestions, and I hope that future posts will pick up specific defined and achievable projects that come out of these. Continue reading

German theatre premières in 1922

One hundred years on, 1922 is remembered as perhaps the most important year for modernist literature, with the publication of both Ulysses by James Joyce and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Media attention around the anniversary of Ulysses earlier this year (and 16th June’s Bloomsday) prompted me to wonder what was happening in the German-speaking literary world during 1922. Focusing on drama, this post features some noteworthy first productions that theatre-goers might have seen that year, some more successful than others.

By 1922, the fashion for Expressionist drama, which had dominated the German scene for a number of years, was tailing off but expressionist elements still remained. This must have been an interesting time to work in the theatre as many of the actors and directors were also dipping their toes in the waters of cinema (many later went to the United States, either for political reasons or because of the draw of Hollywood – or both). It would also have been a challenging time economically as four years into the Weimar Republic inflation was starting to take hold. It is important to note that the premières took place in a number of different cities, not just Berlin, reflecting the importance of theatre across the whole of Germany (and Austria). I am also struck by how young some of the playwrights were – four of the six featured here were under the age of 30, Brecht being only 24. Continue reading

Ukrainian literature in translation

Following on from my recent post about new English-language acquisitions relating to modern Ukrainian history, I wanted to highlight a small sample of our holdings of modern Ukrainian literature in translation. (Click on the titles below to be taken to the record in iDiscover.)

One author whose works have gradually made their way into English translation is Oksana Zabuzhko, who has won a number of awards, including the Shevchenko National Prize. Her output spans novels, short stories, poetry, and non-fiction; we have recently acquired both her short story collection Your Ad Could Go Here and her Selected Poems, both of which appeared in English for the first time in 2020, and both of which are the work of multiple translators.

The stories in Your Ad Could Go Here deal with the Euromaidan protests and the war with Russia since 2014. Other literary responses to the conflict include Lyuba Yakimchuk’s book of poetry, Apricots of Donbas; Volodymyr Rafeyenko’s novel Mondegreen : Songs About Death and Love; and Oleg Sentsov’s short story collection, Life Went on Anyway. Each author has been personally affected by the war: Lyuba Yakimchuk’s parents and sister were forced to flee their home in the Luhansk region when it was occupied by Russian-backed militants; Volodymyr Rafeyenko moved from his native Donetsk to near Kyiv at the outbreak of war; and Oleg Sentsov was arrested on terrorism charges in Crimea in 2014 and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment (he was released in a prisoner swap in 2019). Continue reading

Book publications on French politics and political figures, ahead of the 2022 parliamentary elections 

On the 12th and 19th of June 2022, French citizens are electing their 577 Members of Parliament, shortly after the re-election of President Emmanuel Macron (see previous blogpost). If a candidate obtains more than 50% of the votes with a participation of at least 25%, he can be elected as MP in the first round. Otherwise, the second round includes the two candidates who obtained the most votes in the first round, and possibly others who have received more than 12.5 % of the votes of registered electors. This system, which relies on majority rather than proportionality, favours the candidates of the leading political parties, but can also lead to strategic alliances. Continue reading