Putting One and One Together? "Ukraine," "Malorossiia," and "Russia".
Serhii Plokhy, The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine. 395 pp. New York: Basic Books, 2015, 2017. ISBN-13 978-0465094868. $19.99.
Johannes Remy, Brothers or Enemies: The Ukrainian National Movement and Russia from the 1840s to the 1870s. 329 pp. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016. ISBN-13 978-1487500467. $66.00.
Valerii Soldatenko, Rossiia--Krym--Ukraina: Opyt vzaimootnoshenii v gody revoliutsii i Grazhdanskoi voiny (Russia--Crimea--Ukraine: The Experience of Mutual Relations in the Years of Revolution and Civil War). 167 pp. Moscow: Rosspen, 2018. ISBN-13 978-5824322125.
"What? ... Another History of Malorossiia ... ? When will this end?" That is how the caustic intellectual, journalist, and editor Osip Senkovskii greeted the History of Malorossiia by Mykola Markevych (Nikolai Markevich) in 1843. Markevych, deeply offended, fired back with an epigram "To the Enemy of Ukraine" (sic). Quite unexpectedly, this exchange triggered a long re-evaluation of mutual relations in the Russian-Polish-Ukrainian "triangle" involving Markevych's compatriots, Polish landlords, and Russian imperial elites. (1) The episode typifies one of the many controversies pertaining to the modern nation-building process among Russians and Ukrainians, whose relations were crucial to the very existence of the multinational Russian Empire. The double Malorossian (Little Russian)/Ukrainian name of the country we now call "Ukraine" is only one of them.
The imperial legacy of "Russia" is the key to answering many questions about past and present issues of identity, historical alternatives, and national terminology. (2) The modern "Ukrainian" and "Russian" national discourses developed in opposition to each other. For the last two centuries, consequently, both of these designations have remained highly ambivalent. There have been several "Ukraines" (Russian, Polish, Malorossian, Eastern, Western, etc.) and many "Rus'/Russias" (White, Red, Black, Great, Little, Northern, Southern, etc.). Most of these designations were used interchangeably until the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian competition for their shared historical and geographic legacy made such usage politically and nationally sensitive. (3) The question is whether an imperially produced historical terminology and the debates concerning it reflect multiple processes of national identity formation or terminological imprecision.
As William Edgerton put it more than 40 years ago, the "Ukrainian question" is the most perplexing of the many controversies and conflicts among the Slavic peoples: "On this question, among scholars of Russian and Ukrainian background alike, and even among scholars who have no Slavic ethnic heritage at all, dispassionate objectivity is almost as scarce as hens' teeth. Almost, but not quite." (4) Nowadays, with the world seemingly on the brink of a new Cold War, this somewhat sarcastic verdict is still relevant. Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian "hybrid war," accompanied by a fierce propaganda campaign, have deeply affected Ukrainian and Russian academic institutions, which have been involved in respective nation- and state-building processes since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. (5) How has the global community of Western scholars specializing in the Russian and Ukrainian fields reacted to changing political, geographic, and academic landscapes in the two largest states of the former Soviet space? (6)
The Ukrainian question has an important place in imperial Russian studies, especially in subfields concerned with the issue of empire and nationalism. (7) Since the publication of Andreas Kappeler's groundbreaking book, the Russian Empire has been perceived as a multinational state similar to the Soviet Union--an umbrella for different peoples, nations, and cultures rather than a Russian nation-state. (8) Paradoxically enough, some historians have recently noted that Russia's imperial borderlands and various nationalisms have been attracting much more scholarly attention than the Russian "heartland" and the "Russian question." (9) If this observation is accurate, then it indicates that the well-known distinction among national, imperial, and regional components of nation building among the Eastern Slavs of the Russian Empire requires further conceptualization. Establishing the meanings and mutual relations among "Russian," "Malorossian," (10) and "Ukrainian" designations, in turn, necessitates new terminological debates.
The use of "Russia" with the numerous qualifying adjectives mentioned at the beginning of this review very often obscures the difference between imperial and ethnocultural models of Russianness. (11) The differentiation of "Rus"' from "Russia" was an important move toward revealing the multiple meanings of other names elaborated under the "Russian" imperial umbrella. (12) It is important to note that the ethnocultural designation Velikorossiia (Great Russia), as opposed to the religiously based Rus' and/or the imperially based Rossiia, has recently been attracting greater attention. (13) Unlike Orthodox Rus' and imperial Rossiia, Velikorossiia never fully developed as a modern designation because it was suppressed by both church and empire, whether Russian or Soviet. Consequently, Velikorossiia has very often been confused with Rossiia, and the two designations have been used interchangeably. (14) This may reflect the gradual "nationalization" of the Russian Empire by Velikorossian discourse, but the Malorossian phenomenon has been downgraded in the process.
As recent publications demonstrate, Malorossiia was an ambivalent phenomenon that played an important role in the development of both modern Russian (Velikorossian) and Ukrainian nationalism. (15) At the same time, the geography and semantics of Malorossiia remain debatable. The meaning of the term depends on context: it can signify a historical region, a sub-Russian ethnos, or a political doctrine. For most Russians, Malorossiia is a local variant of the "Russian world" represented most vividly by Nikolai Gogol' (Mykola Hohol'). Most Ukrainians consider Malorossiia either a result of the impact of Russian colonialism on Ukrainian society or a stage in the "organic" evolution of modern Ukrainian identity. (16) It is compatible with the imperial (triune) concept of the imperial Russian nation as consisting of Velikorossian, Malorossian, and Belorussian substrates. Whether or not Malorossiia is reconcilable with Ukrainian national identity remains an open question.
The problem of historical continuity and mutual relations between the national Ukraine and the imperial Malorossiia is the main axis around which the history of Ukrainian national development has revolved for the last two centuries. Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky, one of the most insightful Ukrainian historians of modern Ukraine, spoke of them as the "two currents within Ukrainian society." (17) His like-minded colleague George Luckyj conceptualized the "Malorossiia vs. Ukraine" issue as a historical choice "between Gogol and Shevchenko." (18) Although the 1840s are considered the point of bifurcation between the two identities, they remained interconnected. (19)
Switching from Malorossian to Ukrainian terminology often indicated a change from a loyal pro-Russian orientation to a "subversive" anti-Russian one, and vice versa. (20) On the personal level, skillful manipulation of the two attitudes was a common survival tactic for many Ukrainians determined to make a career in the Russian Empire. (21) During and after the dissolution of the empire, many of them promptly turned into "Ukrainians." In the long run, however, it was not a simple matter of Ukraine replacing Malorossiia. The latter appears to have survived not only the Russian Empire but the Soviet Union as well. It is a common legacy of Russians and Ukrainians that still needs to be accommodated within divergent Russian and Ukrainian nation-building processes developing in the politically turbulent post-Soviet space.
I proceed from the assumption that the triune "greater Rus'/Russian nation"--allegedly consisting of Malorossian, Velikorossian, and Belorussian substrates--was not a project imagined or elaborated by imperial nation-builders in the 19th century. It was a product of the imagination--a myth inherited from the 17th century and promoted by prenational elites determined to protect the empire. Ever since the Napoleonic Wars, it has been under attack by modern intellectuals and secular nation builders (both Ukrainian and Russian) bent on ridding themselves of the real and imagined legacy of the ancien regime. But the persistence of the greater Rus'/Russian nation and its capacity to transform itself from a religious to a cultural entity has extended its afterlife. The Malorossian discourse played an important role in this process. As a result, both Ukrainian and Russian national discourses have retained their complex multilayered makeup.
In this review, I analyze several new publications by authors from different countries dealing primarily with the issue of Ukrainian-Russian relations in the imperial framework. The first of these is a book by the Russian historian, publicist, and literary critic Sergei Beliakov. This work, written for a general Russian audience, has a dual purpose: to introduce the author's compatriots to the history of a nation that after 70 years of common life in the former Soviet Union seems hardly known to them; and to combat certain historical myths and stereotypes, both Ukrainian and Russian. The author's elegant style is reminiscent of the one elaborated by the 19th-century Russo-Ukrainian historian Nikolai/Mykola Kostomarov. Following in Kostomarov's footsteps in an attempt to combine scholarship with literature, Beliakov has sparked a polemic about the genre of his book. (22)
This work of 759 pages is divided into 13 chapters. Despite its title, Ukrainskaia natsiia v epokhu Gogolia, the author does not confine himself to the first half of the 19th century but deals with the early modern period as well in order to produce a comprehensive picture of the historical development of the Ukrainian nation, which possesses all the attributes of a separate identity, including name (or, rather, names), ethnicity, and territory. The author proceeds from the premise that Ukrainian history has been distinct for many centuries. He contradicts the dominant constructivist approach to history, according to which the modern Ukrainian nation began to take shape only in the 19th century and developed according to the logic of nation building formulated by Miroslav Hroch. Beliakov does not discuss the theoretical aspects of nationalism in detail but is fond of referring to Lev Gumilev's doctrine of "passionary" ethnogenesis (181, 184, 205-6, 225). (23)
It is interesting that, in speaking of Ukrainian geography, the author employs the concept of a "Ukrainian world" (Ukrainskii mir), which appears infrequently in the literature and is obviously an analogue of the "Russian world" (Russkii mir). Beliakov defines Ukrainian territory on the basis of ethnicity, from Galicia and Transcarpathia to the Taman Peninsula and the Kuban (14, 15). He includes the historical New Russia in this territory on the grounds that it was settled by Ukrainian peasants and never constituted a distinct ethnocultural society. In this regard Beliakov does not wander in the labyrinth of historical East Slavic ethnotoponymy and sees no direct link between it and national identity. He employs "Malorossian" and "Ukrainian" terminology interchangeably (71) as synonyms to designate an identity distinct from the Russian.
In the author's opinion, Malorossian identity--as exemplified in a Russified Ukrainian who has lost his national identity and retains only a partiality to Ukrainian cuisine and song--emerges only in the second half of the 19th century and has nothing to do with Gogol'. To be sure, the author in no way explains how the era of Ukraine's "greatest decline" coincided with that of widespread "Ukrainophilia" among educated circles in the Russian Empire. (24) It was this phenomenon that gave rise to the works of Nikolai Gogol' and Taras Shevchenko, to say nothing of their lesser-known contemporaries. Are these two phenomena connected and, if so, which should be regarded as the cause and which the consequence?
Most historians of Ukraine associate the origin of the political stage of the Ukrainian national movement with the activity of the clandestine Brotherhood of SS Cyril and Methodius (1845-47), whose ideological leaders were Taras Shevchenko, Nikolai/Mykola Kostomarov, and Panteleimon Kulish. Beliakov, by contrast, is convinced that "what was new in the ideology of the Cyrillo-Methodian brethren was not important, and what was important was not new," since their Pan-Slavic rhetoric served only as camouflage for their Ukrainian nationalism (547). He agrees that Shevchenko's genius awakened a somnolent nation and changed the course of its history but observes that "the idea of independence and autonomy had long existed, indissolubly associated with the life of the Ukrainian nation and its history" (206).
The inclusion of Hetman Ivan Mazepa's name in the title of Beliaev's volume is no accident. For more than 300 years, it has remained a symbol of Ukrainian separatism and national treason for most Russians. Although this stereotype has long been undermined by the writings of Orest Subtelny and Tat'iana Tairova-Iakovleva, it remains in the consciousness of many Russian readers, who are accustomed to distinguishing "familiar" Malorossiian from "hostile" Ukrainian identity. Beliakov is intent on convincing his reader that Mazepa is no exception in Ukrainian history. The hetman's "shadow" falls not only on the whole 19th century but also on previous centuries, obscuring even the famous Kyivan Synopsis, which some regard as a symbol of "Ukrainian-Russian unification." For Beliakov, however, the Synopsis is just a hastily and carelessly written conjunctural text intended to attest the loyalty of the higher Kyivan clergy to Moscow.
In asserting that Mazepa is "the embodiment of everything hostile [to a Russian] that could possibly exist in a Ukrainian" (509), Beliakov overlooks the ambivalent and contradictory nature of Mazepa's image not only in the Russian but also in the Ukrainian literary tradition. This conclusion is confirmed by a careful reading of relevant works by Dmitrii Bantysh-Kamensky, Aleksandr Pushkin, and Faddei Bulgarin, to say nothing of Kondratii Ryleev. (25) Oleksii Martos praises Mazepa for being a "friend of liberty" and a "friend of learning," not for his separatism or "betrayal" of Peter I. Beliakov realizes that the Mazepa myth has contradictory meanings in Ukrainian and Russian national discourse but does not demolish that myth, merely asking the Russian reader to acquiesce in it.
Alongside Mazepa stands the name of Gogol', who has become a symbol of Ukrainian-Russian "unification" for many Russians. Reading the final chapter of the book, one might conclude that in Beliakov's opinion Gogol' actually sought to rehabilitate Mazepa, concealing his authentic views with standard invectives against the hetman. Yet the question posed by Beliakov concerning Gogol "s true identity, Russian or Ukrainian, remains unanswered. Instead, one reads traditional metaphors of ambivalence and indeterminacy. (26) Like Mazepa, Gogol' does not fit the framework of modern Ukrainian nationalism fashioned for these two figures by Beliakov.
The subject of Ukrainian-Russian relations is the core of the book under review. Accordingly, the question arises: how balanced is the picture of Russo-Ukrainian relations in Beliakov's depiction? The careful reader will note that the author likes to use the term "Ukrainian nationalism" but is reluctant to write about "Russian nationalism," resorting in such instances to the euphemism "a person of heightened national feeling" (606, 626). The author is well aware of the difference between the throne and Russian society; he deems the concept of a "greater Russian nation" illusory but continues the traditional practice of identifying "Russian" with "Great Russian." Maintaining that the Slavophile rhetoric of the Cyrillo-Methodians merely camouflaged their Ukrainian nationalism, he does not apply the same standard to the Russian Slavophiles.
Beliakov's monograph lacks the requisite conceptualization and problematization of the rich historical material with which he deals. There are significant lacunae in the corpus of sources and literature to which he refers. (27) Regardless of the author's broad erudition, his book is most unlikely to offer anything new to the professional historian of Ukraine. The virtues of Beliakov's work should be sought elsewhere. It is not new facts or hypotheses that claim the reader's attention but the style, interpretation, and message of his book. It is deeply rooted in the post-Soviet Russian intellectual environment. That is why, in my opinion, it offers interesting material characterizing the current Russian discourse about Ukraine.
The fact that Beliakov's book has become popular among both "Westerners" and "Slavophiles" deserves special attention. Its success may indicate a demand in Russian society for a new discourse about Ukraine, one that differs from the official Russian doctrine of "one nation," which denies Ukraine a distinct history. Beliakov brings a fresh eye to the subject of Ukraine, unlike many of his compatriots, who still adhere to the imperial paradigm of a "triune" Russian nation. In this regard he reminds me of a 19th-century predecessor, Nikolai Polevoi, who once appalled Russian and Malorossian traditionalists with the heretical statement that Malorossians are not Russians; they are different, and so are their history and culture. (28) Beliakov simply does not require Malorossiia to be truly Russian.
In the words of Viktor Mironenko, chair of the center of Ukrainian studies attached to the European Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, "there can be no way out of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as long as one of the parties considers the other nonexistent." (29) Although Beliakov cannot accept a "purely Ukrainian" interpretation of the common Russo-Ukrainian past, as his review of Serhii Plokhy's recent book makes apparent, it would appear that his "purely Russian" view of Ukrainian history makes him better prepared than some of his colleagues for a dialogue with Ukrainian historians. (30) There has already been a positive reaction to his book on the part of Ukrainian scholars. (31) It remains to be seen how the author will deal with the more challenging and controversial period of 1914-21, which is to be the subject of his next volume on Ukrainian history. (32)
Johannes Remy's Brothers or Enemies is based on the same idea of separate Ukrainian and Russian historical processes as that expressed in Beliakov's book. Unlike the Russian author, however, Remy adheres to a "constructivist" interpretation of the national phenomenon. His monograph covers the period from the 1840s to the 1870s, which he considers "formative of both Ukrainian nationalism and the imperial policies regarding that nationalism" (3). The 1840s are usually associated with the clandestine Cyrillo-Methodian Brotherhood of 1845-47, while the 1870s are marked by the Ems Decree (1876), which established an openly repressive pattern of imperial Russian policy toward the Ukrainian movement.
The book under review covers a variety of topics: the history of the Ukrainian press and journalism in the Russian Empire; Ukrainian clandestine and semilegal circles and groupings; the ideology, political doctrines, and tactics of the Ukrainian activists; Russian imperial policy toward the Ukrainian movement, including censorship; Ukrainian ethnic stereotypes of Russians, and so on. Obviously, it would be difficult for any scholar to explore all these topics in equal measure. To the author's credit, he has invested a great deal of time and effort in producing his detailed survey.
Remy's in-depth exploration of the Russian and Ukrainian archives, as well as many other half-forgotten and unpublished historical sources, is probably the most important and laudable aspect of his monograph. He pays attention even to minor details, for which scholars will be grateful. Less thoroughly informed but highly motivated readers will find it rewarding to follow the author's scrupulous and exhaustive analysis of texts. Even so, it is hard to avoid the impression that the author sometimes indulges in excessive paraphrasing even of accessible texts, while his conclusions read like a record of his new archival findings and a resume of particular chapters. (33)
The conceptual and contextual aspects of the monograph are somewhat less impressive than the factual one. The author offers a traditionally narrow definition of the Malorossian identity, which is associated with the Left-Bank Cossack Hetmanate. He does not take account of different interpretations of the "Malorossian" phenomenon as it relates to its "Ukrainian" counterpart, which might challenge some observations or conclusions about the initial phase and ideology of the Ukrainian national movement. For example, the persistence of Malorossian identity and its transformation from a regional into an ethnocultural phenomenon would explain not only its gradual "appropriation" by regional elites but also the controversial and inconsistent imperial policy toward the Ukrainian question.
The problem of Malorossian and Ukrainian identities is directly related to changes in terminology. Remy is not partial to the definition of Malorossian identity and seeks a substitute for it in euphemisms such as "the inclusive identity in which it was possible to be a Ukrainian and Russian at the same time" (7). This allows him retroactively to "Ukrainize" not only such bearers of Malorossian identity as Mykhailo Maksymovych, Hryhorii Kvitka, and Amvrosii Metlynsky but even a figure so utterly distant from Ukrainian nationalism as the Great Russian Izmail Sreznevskii. The modern Ukrainian nationalist Mykhailo Drahomanov, by contrast, turns up as a bearer of all-Russian or "dual Ukrainian and Russian identity" (223).
Remy's very brief survey of the "beginnings of the national movement" (14-21) does not help one understand the context that made possible the appearance of the modern Ukrainian phenomenon. Instead of addressing the issues of the chronology, typology, and organizational structure of the Ukrainian movement, Remy limits his task to a survey of texts whose authors dealt with Ukrainian history and folklore between the 1770s and the 1840s. For some reason, Gogol' makes no appearance in that chapter. The persistence of the Malorossian legacy in the Russian Empire requires special attention, not a brief overview. Without it, the issue of the continuity and discontinuity of the Ukrainian movement, as well as its relation to the Malorossian trend, cannot be properly addressed. It is telling that Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky's name is not even mentioned in the book. Remy claims that the idea of independence entered Ukrainian national discourse not at the end of the 19th century but in the late 1850s and early 1860s. If that is the case, then the reader expects to be told what difference it made, if any. On the one hand, as Beliakov emphasizes, the idea of independence never in fact disappeared from the radar of the Ukrainian elite. As Sysyn stresses, "the legacy of Ukrainian political entities of the early modern period provided the underlay for the Ukrainian national movement of the nineteenth century." (34) No wonder that, as the case of the historian of Malorossiia Mykola Markevych suggested, the imperial censors kept an eye on every piece of writing that contained the name of Ivan Mazepa. (35) On the other hand, until the last days of the empire the idea of independence yielded in popularity to the competing ideas of Ukrainian autonomy or federation with Russia.
Remy is "focused on the relation between Ukrainians and Russia" (5). He systematically analyzes the Ukrainian activists' perceptions of Russia and Great Russians. It should be noted, however, that many Ukrainian ethnic stereotypes of Russians had already been articulated or described in texts written by such authors of the late 18th century as Semen Divovych, Ivan Kotliarevsky, Petro Hulak-Artemovsky, and Hryhorii Kvitka, to say nothing of the anonymous author of The History of the Rus 'People. It would clearly be appropriate to compare Ukrainian stereotypes of "Russia" with Russian stereotypes of "Ukraine." Of course, such a task would require in-depth analyses of different segments of Russian society. The Russian radicals' views on Ukraine and Ukrainians and their influence on Ukrainian activists would deserve special attention.
The history of the Ukrainian national movement and its relations with Russia is a subject that could theoretically be pursued with the assistance of a new book by the Ukrainian scholar and academician Valerii Soldatenko on the history of the political relations among the Russian, Crimean, and Ukrainian governments during the disintegration of the Russian Empire (1917-20). It was written and published in Moscow hard on the heels of Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, when those relations became the object of an information war and of historical and political manipulation. In general, Ukrainian and Russian historians hold diametrically opposing views on the subject. (36) Given such conditions, it is no easy task to maintain at least the appearance of an objective, balanced approach to the interpretation of that subject. Soldatenko's book confirms this view, although it does so in a most original manner.
The author presents a detailed account of the policy of Ukrainian governments toward Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet, dwelling particularly on efforts to define the administrative and political status of Crimea and its territory. He approaches the problem of Crimea's territorial allegiance from the viewpoint of the ethnic structure of the local population, which was predominantly Russian. The author is well acquainted with the historical sources, including archival ones. It is another matter that their interpretation depends more on the author's political sympathies and antipathies than on his methodology.
On the one hand, Soldatenko does not conceal his sympathy toward the leaders of the Central Rada and the Directory, Mykhailo Hrushevsky and Volodymyr Yynnychenko, who did not, in his opinion, raise the issue of incorporating Crimea into Ukraine. On the other hand, he shows open antipathy toward Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky, who attempted to annex Crimea to Ukraine. An even greater measure of hostility is incurred by Symon Petliura, whom the author finds totally lacking in the qualities appropriate to a political and national leader. Soldatenko's basic conclusion is that Ukraine and Crimea did not spend so much as a day together within the boundaries of a single state (163).
The author constantly criticizes Ukrainian historians for what he regards as their undue attention to the national aspects of the problem. He adopts a similar attitude toward the Crimean Tatar movement for striving to establish itself as a nation-state, accusing it of narrow nationalism and efforts to sever Crimea from Russia whatever the cost (25, 69, 160). The Russian historian Valerii Vozgrin finds himself under attack mainly, it would appear, because of his sympathetic approach to the Crimean Tatar problem. The author characterizes Vozgrin's works in a tone more in keeping with Soviet-era "criticism" than with political tact (48-49, 84-85, 125, 148-49). By the same token, Soldatenko vigorously criticizes both the Entente and the Whites for their policy toward Ukraine in general. This is not surprising, as the author follows tradition in regarding the Russian Empire as a "prison-house of nations" (11). In fairness, it should be noted that the author also criticizes particular observations of Russian historians, although he does so in a very limited fashion. Unfortunately, relevant works by Western historians are unknown to Soldatenko.
In this book the fundamental problem of Ukrainian-Russian relations seems to have been torn out of its historiographic context. All one can grasp is that Soldatenko refuses to equate Russian identity with Soviet identity. He stresses that the establishment of agencies of Soviet rule on Crimean territory was initiated not only by Moscow but also by local leaders. The author sees a solution to the Crimean challenge in the Soviet model of administrative-territorial reform in the 1920s, which resulted in the establishment of Soviet Crimean territorial autonomy within the Russian Soviet Federation. The borders of that administrative entity were never delineated because, in the author's opinion, the Soviet internationalists considered them insignificant in principle.
If readers of Soldatenko's book gain the impression that they are dealing with many cliches of Soviet historiography, they will not be far from the truth. Soldatenko is one of the few professional historians who have remained faithful to the culture of Soviet historical writing elaborated after World War II. The characteristic style of that culture is typified by references to the "broad masses," "oppressed peoples," "workers" and by a highly specific, sometimes hardly comprehensible "scientific" jargon (5, 7, 10). This style of historical writing maintains all the features of "positivistic" narrative based on belief in an "objectivist" and "scientific" account of history, which requires that the author conceal his own views and attitudes behind a careful selection of documentary sources. At the same time, the author seems highly sensitive to the current political conjuncture.
Soldatenko's book may be of interest to scholars as an echo of national-communist historiography, which has found no place for itself in post-Soviet Ukraine. Perhaps Moscow has shown itself more propitious to this a scholarly trend than Kyiv. In any event, Soldatenko is the only Ukrainian historian who has managed, in the course of the last two years, to publish three monographs in a Russian-led international publishing project on "The History of Stalinism," intended to "support the overcoming of the Soviet ideological and political legacy." (37) It remains to be noted that the editors decided to publish the book without indices of names and places, which is rather unusual for a solid academic publishing house.
The Gates of Europe by Serhii Plokhy (Plokhii) presents a longue duree history of Ukraine in its pre-2014 borders from the times of Herodotus to the fall of the USSR and the current Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Although the book is directly related to the survey course on Ukrainian history that Plokhy teaches at Harvard, it is not a textbook for students. The book was in fact written hard on the heels of the Russian annexation of Crimea, with the intention of presenting the author's interpretation of Ukrainian history to a broad English-speaking audience in the form of a readable overview. Plokhy's book is much more compact than the well-known syntheses of Ukrainian history by Orest Subtelny and Paul Robert Magocsi. It is also based on a different methodology inspired by the "cultural turn" in the humanities. One may note the influence of mental geography, transnational history, and the "East-West" paradigm on the author. It is a pity that he decided against providing even a brief historiographic survey to familiarize his audience with the broad array of similar texts written by his predecessors and published in different countries in a variety of languages, including Ukrainian.
Plokhy's interpretations of the key problems of Ukrainian history certainly deserve special analysis. In this review, I would rather focus on issues related to the topics discussed above. According to Plokhy, the uniqueness of Ukrainian history is reflected in the country's frontier identity and ethos. However, the title of the book emphasizes the priority of the "Western" geopolitical orientation of the Ukrainian historical process. Such an attitude has undoubtedly been informed by the current (geo)political conjuncture. In actual fact, the longue duree of Ukrainian history demonstrates that the "European" orientation of Ukrainian national development goes hand in hand with the "Eurasian" or "Eastern" one. Many Ukrainian intellectuals of the 19th and 20th centuries pointed out the Oriental dimension of the national historical process. The Ukrainian "gates" may well open in both directions, toward Eurasia as well as toward Europe.
If Ukraine is considered a "bridge" or meeting place, then the following questions arise: Where do the two opposing (East-West) orientations meet? Does the Russo-Ukrainian border coincide with the eastern border of Europe? This in turn brings to the fore issues of Ukrainian internal boundaries and regionalism. Plokhy considers "the ability of Ukrainian society to cross inner and outer frontiers and negotiate identities created by them" to be "the main characteristic of the history of Ukraine as presented in this book" (xxii). To be honest, I am somewhat less optimistic about Ukrainian society's "ability to negotiate." So far, it cannot boast a substantial record of achievement. Perhaps, in this case, the very definition of "Ukrainian society" implies nothing more than a tiny group of intellectuals who have managed to conceptualize "Ukraine" in its entirety.
Plokhy treats modern Ukrainian nation building as a work in progress. The book is structured accordingly: Plokhy locates the beginnings of modern Ukrainian nation building "during and immediately after the Napoleonic Wars" (151-52). Consequently, he attributes the birth of the modern Ukrainian nation to World War I and the dissolution of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires (213). It is important to note that Plokhy demonstrates the interrelation between modern Ukrainian and Russian nation building and considers the latter unfinished as well (349). One might venture to raise a question about the specific nature of East Slavic nationalism: the Russian dilemma is still that of "empire vs. nation," while the Ukrainian conundrum is definitely that of "Malorossiia vs. Ukraine."
Plokhy pays tribute to the concept of the discontinuity of the Ukrainian national movement since the Malorossian era when he stresses the "dominance of Hetmanate elites in the early stages of Ukrainian nation-building" (151). (38) However, in speaking of the "long nineteenth century," he avoids the "Ukrainian national renaissance" rhetoric that has become so popular in post-Soviet Ukrainian historiography. The sentence about "turning the Little Russians among the Russian prisoners of war into Ukrainians" (204) may suggest that Plokhy considers the "Malorossian" and "Ukrainian" phenomena as two successive stages of modern nation building, but the correlation between them remains somewhat unclear.
Plokhy follows a popular historiographic tradition when he speaks about the "immaturity of the Ukrainian national movement and the late arrival of the idea of independent statehood in both Habsburg- and Romanov-ruled Ukraine" (226). "Successful rebels, the Ukrainian politicians turned out to be amateurs at building a state and organized armed forces" (217). I would apply the last part of that sentence to any period of Ukrainian history. The first part, however, may be applicable to early modern but not to modern Ukrainian history of the "short" 20th century, when Ukraine returned to the political map of Europe owing to imperial self-destruction, not to a successful national uprising.
In dealing with the issue of Ukrainian regionalism, Plokhy effectively operates within the concept of a "transitional zone," which is indeed better suited to the description and analysis of nested Ukrainian symbolic geographies than the classic "regional" paradigm. That concept allows the author "to avoid treating the history of various regions" separately, which would emphasize the differences between them: this approach stresses the "normalcy" of their belonging to Ukrainian national space. Contrary to Soldatenko, Plokhy inclines to think that historically, Crimea belongs to the Crimean Tatars (142).
At the same time, Plokhy admits that regional differences constituted the "major obstacle" (226) to successful Ukrainian state building during and after World War I. Indeed, he confirms Soldatenko's observation that the Central Rada never claimed Crimea (210). Plokhy is convinced that "the idea of Ukrainian statehood gained much greater support in the former Hetmanate and the formerly Polish-ruled Right Bank than in the steppe regions of the east and south" (226). But it remains difficult to explain how these historical regions, once the heartland of historical Malorossiia, became Ukrainian almost overnight. If the Malorossiian nationalists from the Right-Bank territory were to be included in the history of the Ukrainian national movement, it would mean that the Ukrainian government of the nascent nation-state should take responsibility for "the most horrendous pogroms of 1919" (224). Thus Plokhy is perfectly consistent when he blames the Ukrainian leader Symon Petliura for his inability to prevent pogroms on Ukrainian territory under his control.
Plokhy takes a systematic approach to his subject and comes up with well-balanced and carefully articulated conclusions. He is one of the few specialists in the field who are able to synthesize not only the text but also the context of the Ukrainian historical process. As a rule, he does not lose sight of the big picture of East European, Russian, and Soviet history. This not only makes his conclusions all the more persuasive but also broadens the appeal of his book to a general audience. Plokhy's political tact and diplomatic approach open the "gates" to a dialogue about Ukrainian history among all professionals, Eastern and Western alike. Thus I would hardly agree with Sergei Beliakov, who considers Plokhy's book "too Ukrainian" to be acceptable to the Russian reader. In Ukraine and the Western world, his book has reaped a rich harvest of positive reviews and awards, including the Shevchenko Award, the top Ukrainian state prize, which was conferred on the book under review in the "literature, nonfiction, and journalism" category.
Speaking generally, Ukrainian history presents a daunting challenge to any specialist in the field. With so many paradoxes and contradictions to resolve, it is no easy feat to present an integral view of Ukrainian history and geography. Perhaps, in this case, we must admit that traditional East European and Russian studies have serious methodological limitations, and that until recently specialists in those fields preferred to avoid taking seriously the Ukrainian aspects of their respective disciplines. For those with an open mind, however, Ukrainian studies can offer opportunities to reevaluate many aspects of the history of the regions in question. The new publications reviewed in this article vividly demonstrate that Ukrainian studies is a growing field of specialization, capable of overcoming the national framework and stereotypes to become a truly global academic phenomenon rather than an intellectual tool of national identification.
Dept. of History and Classics
2-28 Tory Building
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H4, Canada
I am grateful to my colleague Myroslav Yurkevich for his help in editing the manuscript.
(1) Serhii Bilenky, Romantic Nationalism in Eastern Europe: Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian Political Imaginations (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012).
(2) Andreas Kappeler, "Ukraine and Russia: Legacies of the Imperial Past and Competing Memories," Journal of Eurasian Studies 5, 2 (2014): 107-15.
(3) Volodymyr Kravchenko, The Ukrainian-Russian Border after Euromaidan: A Regional Perspective (forthcoming); Kyrylo Halushko, Rus--Malorosia--Ukraina: Nazva i terytoria (Kyiv: Likbez, 2017); Imia naroda: Ukraina i ee naselenie v ofitsial 'nykh i nauchnykh terminakh, publitsistike i literature. Sbornik statei (Moscow: Institut slavianovedenia RAN, 2016); Natalia Yakovenko, "Choice of Name versus Choice of Path: The Names of Ukrainian Territories from the Late Sixteenth to the Late Seventeenth Century," in A Laboratory of Transnational History: Ukraine and Recent Ukrainian Historiography, ed. Georgiy Kasianov and Philipp Ther (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2009), 117-48.
(4) William Edgerton, review of Between Gogol' and Sevcenko: Polarity in the Literary Ukraine, 1798-1847, by George S. N. Luckyj, Slavic Review 34, 1 (1975): 189.
(5) Iryna Vushko, "Historians at War: History, Politics, and Memory in Ukraine," Contemporary European History 27, 1 (2018): 112-24.
(6) Recent debates on Ukrainian-Russian relations tell us something important about the state of the art in Slavic, East European, and (post-)Soviet studies in the West. See Andriy Zayarniuk, "A Revolution's History, a Historians' War," Ab Imperio, no. 1 (2015): 449--79; and the forums on Ukrainian-Russian topics organized by leading academic journals: Slavic Review 74, 4 (2015); Ab Imperio, no. 3 (2014); Kritika 16, 1 (2015); and Europe-Asia Studies 68, 4 (2016).
(7) Stefan Berger and Alexei Miller, eds., Nationalizing Empires (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2015); Alexander Semyonov, "From the Editors: A Window on the Dilemmas of History Writing on Empire and Nation," Ab Imperio, no. 2 (2003): 387-84.
(8) Andreas Kappeler, Russland als Vielvolkerreich: Entstehung, Geschichte, Zerfall (Munich: Beck, 1992).
(9) Elena Vishlenkova, Vizual'noe narodovedenie imperii, ili "Uvidet' russkogo dano ne kazhdomu" (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2014), 2; Alexei Miller, "Nation and Empire: Reflections in the Margins of Geoffrey Hosking's Book," Kritika 13, 2 (2012): 420.
(10) In this essay, I use this designation instead of "Little Russian."
(11) On the revising of the "empire vs. nation" dilemma, see Philipp Ther, "'Imperial Nationalism' as a Challenge for the Study of Nationalism," in Nationalizing Empires, 573-92.
(12) Geoffrey A. Hosking, Empire and Nation in Russian History (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 1993).
(13) Maria Leskinen, Velikoross/velikorus: Iz istorii konstruirovaniia etnichnosti. VekXIX (Moscow: Indrik, 2016).
(14) See Roman Szporluk, review of "The Ukrainian Question: The Russian Empire and Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century, by Alexei Miller; and "Ukrainskii vopros" v politike vlastei i russkom obshchestvennom mnenii (vtoraia polovina XIX v.), by A. I. Miller, Russian Review 64, 1 (2005): 136-38; and Andreas Kappeler, '"Great Russians' and 'Little Russians': Russian-Ukrainian Relations and Perceptions in Historical Perspective (Seattle: Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, 2003).
(15) Faith Hillis, Children of Rus': Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013); Klymentii I. Fedevych and Klymentii K. Fedevych, Za viru, tsaria i Kobzaria: Malorosiis 'ki monarkhisty i ukrains 'kyi natsional 'nyi rukh (1905-1917 roky) (Kyiv: Krytyka, 2017).
(16) Bohdan Hal', "Geokontsept 'Malorossiia' na mental'nykh mapakh 18-ogo-pershoi polovyny 19-ogo St.," Eidos, no. 7 (2013): 93-109; Anton Kotenko, Olga Martyniuk, and Aleksei Miller, " 'Maloross': Evoliutsiia poniatiia do Pervoi mirovoi voiny," Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, no. 108 (2011): 9-27.
(17) As Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky put it, "until 1917 the greatest problem in the realm of Ukrainian consciousness remained the competition of two currents within Ukrainian society: one, 'Little Russianism,' which saw no other path than that of the deepening and securing of the union with Russia; and the other, 'conscious Ukrainianism,' which clamored for the maintenance and reactivation of Ukrainian identity" (Istorychni esse [Kyiv: Osnovy, 1994], 1:90).
(18) George S. N. Luckyj, Between Gogol'andSevcenko: Polarity in the Literary Ukraine, 1798-1847 (Munich: Fink, 1971).
(19) Alexei Tolochko, Kievskaia Rus ' i Malorossiia v 19-om veke (Kiev: Laurus, 2012); Volodymyr Masliichuk, " 'Vid Ukrainy do Malorosii': Regionalni nazvy ta natsionalna istoria," in Ukraina: Protsesy natsiotvorennia, ed. Andreas Kappeler (Kyiv: K1C, 2011), 229-45; Serhii Plokhy, Ukraine and Russia: Representations of the Past (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), 49-65; Mykola Riabchuk, Vid Malorosii do Ukrainy: Paradoksy zapizniloho natsietvorennia (Kyiv: Krytyka, 2000).
(20) Andreas Kappeler, "Mazepintsy, Malorossy, Khokhly: Ukrainians in the Ethnic Hierarchy of the Russian Empire," in Culture, Nation, and Identity: The Ukrainian-Russian Encounter, 1600-1945, ed. Olga Andriewsky et al. (Edmonton: CIUS Press, 2003), 162-81.
(21) David Saunders, review of Children of Rus': Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation, by Faith Hillis, Slavonic and East European Review 94, 4 (2016): 746.
(22) Olga Breininger, "Istoriografiia bona fide (Sergei Belyakov, Ten ' Mazepy)" Novyi mir, no. 8 (2016) (http://magazines.russ.rU/novyi_mi/2016/8/istoriografiya-bona-fide.html); Sergei Beliakov, "Natsiia i nauka: K diskussii o knige Ten 'Mazepy," Novyi mir, no. 11 (2016) (http:// magazines, russ.ru/novyi_mi/2016/11/naciya-i-nauka-pr.html).
(23) On Gumilev, see Sergei Panarin and Viktor Shnirelman, "Lev Gumilev: His Pretensions as Founder of Ethnology and His Eurasian Theories," Inner Asia 3, 1 (2001): 1-18.
(24) Alexei Miller, "Ukrainophilia," Russian Studies in History 44, 2 (2005): 31-44. Perhaps in this case, Malorossofiliia would be a more suitable designation.
(25) Volodymyr Kravchenko, Ukraina, Imperia, Rosia: Vybrani statti z modernoi istorii ta istoriohrafii (Kyiv: Krytyka, 2011), 277-98.
(26) See also Sergei Beliakov, " 'Taras Bul'ba' mezhdu Ukrainoi i Rossiei," Voprosy literatury, no. 6(2017): 191-215.
(27) It is not clear if the author is familiar with the multivolume biography of Mikhail Pogodin by Nikolai Barsukov or the correspondence between Sergei Pletnev and Iakov Grot or even Nikitenkos diary--all of which contain a lot of materials related to Ukrainian-Russian relations in the first half of the 19th century. Omitted from his bibliography are George Luckyi, Zenon Kohut, Myroslav Shkandrij, David Saunders, Andreas Kappeler, Geoffrey Hosking, Mark von Hagen, and other prominent specialists.
(28) Volodymyr Kravchenko, "Nikolai Polevoy i zvytchaina skhema 'ruskoi' istorii (persha tretyna 19 St.)," Journal of Ukrainian Studies, no. 33-34 (2008-9): 303-15.
(29) Fond "Liberal'naia missiia," "Ukraina i Rossiia: Chto dal'she?," 26 May 2016 (http://www. liberal.ru/articles/7044).
(30) For the review, see Sergei Beliakov, "Chem plokha khoroshaia kniga ob Ukraine? Retsenziia na knigu Sergeia Plokhiia 'Vrata Evropy. Istoriia Ukrainy'" (https://gorky.media/reviews/ chem-ploha-horoshaya-kniga-ob-ukraine/).
(31) Sergei Beliakov, "Moia kniga o vremenakh Gogolia i Shevchenko," 15 September 2017 (http:// www.historians.in.ua/index.php/en/intervyu/2284-sergej-belyakov-moya-kniga-o-vremenakh gogolya-i-shevchenko).
(33) I hate to disappoint the author by noting that I highlighted the censorship history of the second (unrealized) edition of the History of the Rus 'People included in the record of his new findings (77-79) long ago (V. V. Kravchenko, " 'Istoria Rusiv' u rosiiskii tsenzuri (50-i roky 19 St.), Naukovi zapysky kafedry ukrainoznavstva Kharkivskoho universytetu, no. I : 4-10).
(34) Frank Sysyn, "The Persistence of the Little Rossian Fatherland in the Russian Empire: The Evidence from The History of the Rus' or of Little Rossia (Istoriia rusov ili Maloi Rossii)," in Imperienvergleich Beispiele und Ansatze aus osteuropaischer Perspektive: Festschrift fur Andreas Kappeler, ed. Guido Hausmann and Angela Rustemeyer (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2009), 40.
(35) Volodymyr Kravchenko, Narysy z ukra'ins 'ko'i istoriohrafii epokhy natsional 'noho Vidrodzhennia (druhapolovyna XVIII-seredynaXIXst.) (Kharkiv: Osnova, 1996), 252.
(36) Compare Istoriia Kryma (Moscow: OLMA, 2015) and Istoria Krymu v zapytanniakh ta vidpovidiakh (Kyiv: NAN Ukrainy, 2015).
(37) For the listing, see http://www.rosspen.su/ru/catalog/. In addition to the book under review, see Valerii Soldatenko, Vysokoe stremlenie: Sud'ba Nikolaia Sktypnika (Moscow: Politicheskaia entsiklopediia, 2018); and Soldatenko, Georgii Piatakov: Opponent Lenina, sopernik Stalina (Moscow: Rosspen, 2017).
(38) Compare to Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky, Essays in Modern Ukrainian History (Edmonton: Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies Press, 1987), 11-36, 37-48, 123--42.
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|Title Annotation:||Ukrainskaia natsiia v epokhu Gogolia, The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, Brothers or Enemies: The Ukrainian National Movement and Russia from the 1840s to the 1870s, Rossiia - Krym - Ukraina: Opyt vzaimootnoshenii v gody revoliutsii i Grazhdanskoi voiny|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2019|
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