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.
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.
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
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
As the Russian war against Ukraine continues, I thought it would be useful to highlight some new English-language acquisitions which focus on recent Ukrainian history. While it will obviously take some time for books to be written about the invasion and this new and terrible stage in the conflict between the two countries, there has been a war ongoing in Ukraine since 2014, and we have a number of titles, predominantly ebooks, dealing with the subject. (Click on any of the titles to be taken through to the iDiscover record.)
Last year, Harvard University Press launched the Harvard Library of Ukrainian Literature, “a new book series dedicated to publishing outstanding Ukrainian literature in English translation”; we will, of course, be looking to acquire each work in this series as it is released. The very first title to be published was the journalist and writer Stanislav Aseyev’s In Isolation: Dispatches from Occupied Donbas, a collection of essays originally written between 2015 and 2017: a recent review in the TLS describes it as “a rare and unsettling insider’s account of conditions in the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’”. It ends with his capture and imprisonment, and a subsequent work (The Torture Camp on Paradise Street) detailing his experience of incarceration is due for publication later in the year. Another first-person account of the conflict in Donbas, this time from Glagoslav Publications, is Artem Chekh’s Absolute Zero, based on the diary he kept during his time as a soldier there; and, as a previous blogpost highlighted, we hold A Loss : The Story of a Dead Soldier Told by His Sister, a memoir by Dr. Olesya Khromeychuk.