Culture, Nation, and Identity: The Ukrainian-Russian Encounter, 1600–1945
Myroslav Shkandrij is head of the Department of German and Slavic
Studies at the University of Manitoba and the editor of The Cultural
Renaissance in Ukraine: Polemical Pamphlets, 1925–1926.
The 15 essays in this collection, by leading academics in the field,
were produced for conferences held in 1994 and 1995. Viktor Zhivov,
David A. Frick, Zenon E. Kohut, Hans-Joachim Torke, and Frank E. Sysyn
cover the 17th and 18th centuries, when Ukrainian intellectuals acted as
the conduit for westernizing and modernizing ideas into Muscovy.
Particularly fascinating is the contribution of Ukrainians to the
development of an “all-Russian” ideology at this time, one that
stressed East Slavic unity and “Ruthenianized” Russian culture.
Paul Bushkovitch, Andreas Kappeler, Olga Andriewsky, George Grabowicz,
Serhy Yekelchyk, and Christine D. Worobec focus on the Imperial period.
Bushkovitch emphasizes the “ideology of cosmopolitan legitimism” and
the multinational nature of the empire, seeing the growth of a powerful
ethnic Russian nationalism as bursting on the scene only at the
beginning of the 20th century. This rather traditional view of the
empire among Western scholars is challenged by Andriewsky’s paper,
which demonstrates the empire’s silencing of the Ukrainians’ voice.
Ukrainians could not be part of the “multinational” empire; nor
would Russian intellectuals be expected to show interest in them as a
distinct people if Ukrainians were prevented from participating in an
open dialogue. This was precisely the case in 1863, when the Minister of
Culture declared their language non-existent and their literature
banned. Yekelchyk examines Imperial textbooks and the manner in which
they imposed and disseminated stereotypical images of “Little
Russians.” Kappeler provides a stimulating essay on the ways Ukrainian
identity could be alternately described as either mazepintsy (disloyal
separatists), malorossy (loyal Little Russians who represented merely a
colourful branch of the Russian people), or khokhly (harmless peasants).
Essays by Dieter Pohl, Oleh S. Ilnytzkyj, Yuri Shapoval, Stanislav
Kulchytsky, and Marc von Hagen deal with aspects of the 20th century.
Shapoval’s examination of the GPU (Soviet secret police) files in
connection with the staging of the first show trial of 1930—which in
fact signalled an attack on the entire Ukrainian intelligentsia—is a
particularly interesting piece based on newly available archival
Many of the contributions challenge the overarching historical
narrative of Russian–Ukrainian unity, the teleology, that was imposed
by the Imperial and Soviet states and that often went unexamined before
1991. It is a measure of how quickly events now move that some pieces in
this collection already appear outdated. Nonetheless, this is a
pioneering attempt to stimulate a serious intellectual dialogue among
Russian, Ukrainian, and Western scholars on an issue of major