15:50 28.11.2023

Timothy Snyder, Serhii Plokhii and Yaroslav Hrytsak Launch The Ukrainian History Global Initiative with Colleagues from Ukraine

7 min read

90 Scholars will join the major research initiative to explore Ukraine’s deep history

London, UK: November 27, 2023: 90 scholars including Timothy Snyder, Serhii Plokhii and Yaroslav Hrytsak join the Ukrainian History Global Initiative. In this three-year long endeavor, colleagues from Ukraine and around the world will carry out dozens of independent projects, starting from the prehistory of the lands of Ukraine and arriving at the present.

The Ukrainian History Global Initiative is being registered and will be regulated as a charity organization by the Charity Commission for England and Wales. The project will be governed by an independent board of Trustees, comprising among others Carl Bildt, prominent politician and diplomat (chairman), Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer-Prize Winning Historian, Borys Gudziak, the Metropolitan-Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Serhiy Zhadan, Ukrainian poet and novelist and Victor Pinchuk, the founder of the initiative, Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist.

Ukrainian history is central to global history, to an extent that can be hard to bear and hard to acknowledge. In this light, the connections between the present war and larger developments in global economy and politics are no surprise. The Ukrainian History Global Initiative seeks a new empirical and conceptual understanding, using an innovative approach across disciplines and application of new technologies. It will take up subjects such as the origins of human settlement, the spread of Indo-European languages, the relationship between classical Greece and the Black Sea region, Viking-era Europe, Byzantium and Kyiv, the renaissance and reformation, as well as modern questions of nation-building and empire.  It is seeking indirectly to answer fundamental questions such as, “who are we?” and “how was a nation possible?”

The launch of The Ukrainian History Global Initiative was held at the British Museum on Monday 27th of November 2023 including a discussion on “Ukraine and the world: rethinking history” (The video is available here)

Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University, who developed the academic concept of the project over the past three years, and is Chair of the International Academic Advisory Council and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Ukrainian History Global Initiative, said: “This Initiative will involve scholars from around the world in several disciplines, using traditional methods as well as new technology that helps us to handle the deep past. ‘Ukraine’ here is to be understood very broadly, as the lands and peoples, from the very beginning. There is much interesting to be said about the origins of our language, about the bronze age, about the Middle Ages, about modernity — from Amazons to Vikings, Ukraine is a territory where our standard view of history can be revised and made more vibrant.”

“This project offers a unique opportunity to work with the best minds in the field to bring Ukrainian history to the world and bring world history to Ukraine”, said Serhii Plokhii, Co-Chair of the International Academic Advisory Council, Professor of History and the Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. 

“Rethinking of Ukrainian history in the global context can be important for Ukrainian victory and a chance for a better world”, - said Yaroslav Hrytsak, Co-Chair of the International Academic Advisory Council and Professor of History at Ukrainian Catholic University.

Timothy Snyder added: “The extraordinary circumstances of the moment generate questions that go beyond it. The war, after all, did not create a Ukrainian nation. The Ukrainian society that reacted to a Russian invasion must have already been constituted. How so? No doubt in ways that resemble the sources of modern nations generally. But societies are not identical. They are formed from innumerable layers. Societies react variously to crisis, creating further layers.” 

Victor Pinchuk, who conceived the idea of a cross-disciplinary and collaborative exploration of Ukrainian history encompassing all epochs of human life and all geological eras and lands in 2019, said: “Our generation has the unique chance to participate in building our country. But for this we need to understand who we are. I worked over the past four years on the idea of a platform for history research. Multi-disciplinary, from the earliest times to today, on the lands which today are Ukraine. I am excited now we finally start. Great researchers exploring Ukraine’s history will also explore how to write national history in a new way. An independent charity governed by great personalities, and with an academic advisory council of outstanding historians will ensure highest standards. Because of the war this project got a new urgency. What the results of our project will be I have no idea - but I am sure these results will provide countless refutations of Russian distortions, particularly powerful because they will have been created in freedom, exchange, and critical discourse.”

The Ukrainian History Global Initiative aims to create a deep history of the lands and contemporary Ukraine and the peoples who have inhabited them. Through the use of new technologies, the Initiative will create a new model of synthetic history and will be a collaborative effort among roughly 50 Ukrainian and 40 international scholars engaged in around 70 themes to seek connections and coherence among the themes.

The project research will be supervised by an independent International Academic Advisory Council, comprising among others Katherine Younger, Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Timothy Garton Ash, University of Oxford, Yuval Harari, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Thula Simpson, University of Pretoria.


Board of Trustees

Anne Applebaum - Pulitzer Prize winning Historian, Staff Writer, The Atlantic.

Carl Bildt (Chair) - Co-Chair European Council on Foreign Relations, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden (2006-2014); Prime Minister of Sweden (1991-1994).

Borys Gudziak – Metropolitan-Archbishop of Philadelphia of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, President of Ukrainian Catholic University.

Nataliya Gumenyuk – Ukrainian journalist specialized in conflict reporting, human rights, Co-Founder of Public Interest Journalism Lab, Co-Founder of the independent media Hromadske.

Yulia Mostova – Ukrainian journalist, Сo-Founder, Editor-in-chief of prominent Ukrainian newspaper “Mirror of the week” (ZN.UA).

Victor Pinchuk (Founder, Author of the idea of the Project) – Ukrainian Philanthropist and Businessman.

Philippe Sands – Lawyer, Professor of the Public Understanding of Law, University College London.

Timothy Snyder (Ex officio as a Chair of the Academic Advisory Council) – Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University, Permanent fellow at Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.

Fareed Zakaria – Host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, Columnist for The Washington Post.

Serhiy Zhadan – Ukrainian Poet and Novelist.


International Academic Advisory Council

Timothy Snyder (Chair) - Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University, Permanent fellow at Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.

Serhii Plokhii (Co-chair) - Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History. Director, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University.

Yaroslav Hrytsak (Co-chair) - Professor, Ukrainian Catholic University, Director of the Institute of Historical Research at Lviv National University.

Sunil Amrith - Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History; Associate DGS, History, Yale University.

Rohit De - Associate Professor of History, Yale University.

Barbara Engelking - Founder and Director, Polish Center of Holocaust Research, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.

Hussain Fancy - Associate Professor of History, Yale University.

Rory Finnin - Professor of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge.

Timothy Garton Ash - Professor of European Studies in the University of Oxford, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. 

Anton Drobovych - Head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. 

Amelia Glaser - Professor, Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies, UC San Diego.

Yuval Harari - Philosopher, Professor of history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Ola Hnatiuk - Translator, Essayist, Professor of Cultural Studies, Warsaw University, Associate Professor at Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

Maya Jasanoff - X.D. and Nancy Yang Professor, Coolidge Professor of History, Harvard University.

Leonora Neville - John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Chair of Byzantine History, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, University of Wisconsin Madison.

Kelly O'Neill - Director, Imperiia Project, Lecturer on History, Harvard University.

Marci Shore - Associate Professor of History, Yale University.

Thula Simpson - Associate Professor of History, University of Pretoria.

Iryna Sklokina - Historian and Researcher, Lviv Center for Urban History.

Katherine Younger - Permanent Fellow, Director, Ukraine in European Dialogue program, Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.


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