Ukraine and the World at the Matheson Library

The Library hosted an international conference about the politics and culture of Ukraine at the Sir Louis Matheson Library from 12-14 July 2018.

Ukraine and the World: Culture, Politics, Society Conference brought together speakers from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Italy, Belgium and Ukraine to reflect on the current state of affairs in Ukraine. Discussions included the ongoing crisis in the East of the country, the Ukrainian government’s reform action, and the various responses that Ukrainian society and Ukrainian culture have given to the challenges of the post-Euromaidan era, both from a historical and contemporary perspective.

Professor Natalia Chaban, University of Canterbury, President of the Ukrainian Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand; Bob Gerrity, University Librarian, Monash,; His Excellency Dr Mykola Kulinich, Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia;  Professor Marko Pavlyshyn, F.A.H.A., convenor of Ukrainian Studies in Monash University’s School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics and director, Monash European and EU Centre; Professor Marc Parlange, Provost and Senior Vice-President, Monash.

Speaking on Ukraine's foreign policy priorities, His Excellency Dr Mykola Kulinich, Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia, said the conflict in Ukraine is not a domestic war nor merely a war with Russia but a conflict of civilisations.

"The events that unfold in Ukraine depend heavily on not only the situation in Europe, but the whole world. At stake are world values such as democracy, respect for the principles of international law and human rights," Dr Kulinich said.

He also noted that this is the first time the Embassy of Ukraine has financially supported an international expert discussion in Australia.

Dr Alexandra Siddall from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trades discussed Australia’s and Ukraine’s cooperation in the field of human rights.

The conference was co-organised by the Library and the Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies, part of School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics in the Faculty of Arts.

While discussions on the conference’s first two days centred around political topics and questions of national and individual identity as well as literary and linguistic studies, the final day of the conference celebrated 70 years of Ukrainian settlement in Australia.

University Librarian Bob Gerrity announced that the first Ada Booth Research Fellowships in Slavic Studies would be awarded this year. The Ada Booth benefaction has made it possible for the Library to invite four postdoctoral fellows to conduct research in Slavic Studies, using the resources of the Monash Library. Two of these are in Ukrainian Studies.

The conference featured a presentation of the volume Ukraine and Europe: Cultural Encounters and Negotiations, edited by Giovanna Brogi Bercoff, Marko Pavlyshyn and Serhii Plokhy (University of Toronto Press, 2017). The book, one of the most significant recent contributions to Ukrainian studies, was launched by Associate Professor Vitaly Chernetsky of the University of Kansas. Marko Pavlyshyn, Director of the Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies at Monash, and Giovanna Brogi of the University of Milan, who attended the conference, shared insights on their work on the volume.

The Library created an exhibition of Slavic music and rare Ukrainian materials from its Special Collections for the conference. A parallel exhibition of Australian landscapes by immigrant artist Volodymyr Sawchak (1911-2007) formed part of the celebration of 70 years of Ukrainian settlement in Australia.
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