Studying the Blueprint for a Nation: Canadian Historiography of Modern Ukraine


  • Serhy Yekelchyk University of Victoria



This article discusses the development of a Canadian historiography of modern Ukraine. It argues that the early focus on Ukrainian nation building determined the range of topics that interested Canadian historians, but over the following years their methodology changed significantly. The development of social history provided indispensable tools for in-depth analysis of the Ukrainian national movement. The subsequent development of a new cultural history, post-colonial studies, and the “linguistic turn” allowed for a more subtle analysis of the Ukrainian patriotic discourse and practice. New scholarship focusing on the ambiguities of imperial projects and the everyday life allowed for a re-evaluation of the traditional emphasis on the national intelligentsia’s organic work. Because of its focus on the making of a modern Ukrainian nation, beginning in the 1990s Canadian historiography was well positioned to assist in the transformation of Ukrainian historical scholarship from Soviet models to new theoretical and methodological foundations. This often meant helping Ukrainian colleagues to revise the very “national paradigm” of history writing that early Canadian historians had helped develop. In the decades after an independent Ukraine emerged in 1991, the study of Ukrainian nation building became an increasingly global and collaborative enterprise, with historians from Ukraine studying and working in Canada, and with conferences on topics related to modern Ukrainian history involving scholars from around the world.


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Author Biography

Serhy Yekelchyk, University of Victoria

Professor of Russian, Ukrainian, and Soviet history at the University of Victoria.