Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Kharkiv: City of Ukrainian Culture

Please join the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute for a two-day conference focusing on the three periods when Kharkiv served as the center of Ukrainian culture, gathering many of the greatest Ukrainian artists and intellectuals.

Yuri Shevelov: From Kharkiv to Columbia University
Thursday, March 12, 2015 (6-9PM)
Room 1501 – International Affairs Building
Reception to follow

Kharkiv at the Center of Ukrainian Culture: the Romantic, Early Soviet, and Post-Soviet Periods
Friday, March 13, 2015 (10AM-5:30PM)
Room 1501 – International Affairs Building

Serhiy Zhadan:Kharkiv-Mesopotamia-a presentation by the writer
Friday, March 13, 2015 (7:30PM)
The Ukrainian Museum
222 East 6th St.

On September 25, 2013 a commemorative plaque for Yuri Shevelov was removed from the façade of the late American émigré scholar’s former Kharkiv home and destroyed by order of the Kharkiv city government.  On March 1, 2014 Kharkiv poet Serhiy Zhadan was beaten during a pro-Maidan rally at the city’s regional state administration building.   Why were these men, who are among the world’s best-known representatives of the city of Kharkiv, the subjects of violence in that city?  What danger did the presence of these Ukrainian intellectuals pose to Ukraine’s second largest city and how does this reflect on Kharkiv’s precarious position in today’s clash between Ukraine and Russia?

Often identified as a Russian-speaking city with strong ties to Russia, Kharkiv has, in fact, been crucial to the development of Ukrainian culture. The conference Kharkiv: City of Ukrainian Culture will look at three periods where Kharkiv was at the center of Ukrainian culture.  In those periods, Romantic (1830s-40s), Early Soviet (1920s-30s) and post-Soviet (1991-today), Kharkiv gathered many of the greatest Ukrainian artists and intellectuals and was a hub of vibrant cultural debate and activity; during each of those three eras, the city defined the dynamics and trends in Ukrainian culture.

Kharkiv: City of Ukrainian Culture will gather an international group of scholars of Kharkiv at Columbia University in order to analyze the city’s past and present contributions to Ukrainian culture and identity as well as to look at the historical, political and sociological conditions of those three periods that spawned these developments.  Participants will include: Mark Andryczyk, Olga Bertelsen, Serhiy Bilenky, Vitaly Chernetsky, Halyna Hryn, Albert Kipa, Taras Koznarsky, Volodymyr Kravchenko, Michael Moser, Yuri Shevchuk, Myroslav Shkandrij, Tetiana Shestopalova, Tanya Zaharchenko, Serhiy Zhadan, and Tatiana Zhurzhenko.

Kharkiv: City of Ukrainian Culture will also provide particular focus on Yuri Shevelov and Serhiy Zhadan.  The first day of the conference will begin with an evening dedicated to Yuri (George) Shevelov, a Kharkiv native who was a prominent scholar at Columbia University for 23 years where he made major contributions to the study of Slavic languages and to the history of literature.  That evening will feature several presentations on Prof. Shevelov and will be followed by a reception.  The second day of the conference will feature three panels, each of which will cover one of the three periods under focus.  The conference will conclude with an evening presentation by Serhiy Zhadan, one of Ukraine’s leading literary figures and one of the most prominent public faces of Kharkiv today.

Presently, Kharkiv finds itself at the line where Ukrainian identity is being drawn.  It is a time when increasingly more Kharkivites are identifying themselves as Ukrainians – a choice applauded by some while questioned by others.  In essence, these Kharkivites are embracing, today, an identity that Kharkiv helped create.  Kharkiv: City of Ukrainian Culture will examine this crucial issue by looking at the contributions that the city has made in the past to today’s Ukrainian identity – contributions without which today’s Ukrainian identity would in fact be very different.

Event Video