This course aims at the problematization of selected key topics of modern Ukrainian history and, in particular, at critical reflection on the notion of an Eastern European borderland as contested, polycentric and culturally diverse space. The conceptual repertoire of cultural and social history, and case studies on the regions that constitute nowadays Ukraine shall help to go beyond either traditional linear nation-centered paradigm or reduction of borderlands to the peripheral zones framed by imperial centers. Instead, the local agency and responses to the Austrian or Russian imperial policies in the long 19th century, and then to the interwar Soviet and newly emerging nation-states’ social and cultural experiments will be in the focus of the course. The competing projects of nation(s)-building, inventions of tradition, complicated trajectories of cultural transfers and contested identities will be reconsidered through the prism of cultural politics. The course will explore the mechanisms of the cultural construction of modern social, national and regional identities in Ukraine still before the main waves of political violence by the Nazi and Soviet regimes during the WWII profoundly transformed the country.

Using both comparative and transnational approaches to Eastern European borderlands the course shall help students to rethink the main traditional topics (nation-building, intelligentsia and peasants, culture and identity, border and frontier, assimilation and acculturation) of the modern history of Eastern Europe, and to practice new approaches and concepts of the cultural and social history.