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Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 6.3 (2005) 635-645

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Andreas Kappeler, "Great-Russians" and "Little-Russians": Russian–Ukrainian Relations and Perceptions in Historical Perspective. 66 pp. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003. ISSN 1078–5639. $7.50.
Andreas Kappeler, Der schwierige Weg zur Nation: Beiträge zur neueren Geschichte der Ukraine [The Difficult Path to Nationhood: Contributions to the History of Modern Ukraine]. 214 pp. Vienna: Böhlau, 2003. ISBN 320577065X. €29.90.
Andreas Kappeler, Zenon E. Kohut, Frank E. Sysyn, and Mark von Hagen, eds., Culture, Nation, and Identity: The Ukrainian–Russian Encounter, 1600–1945. 381 pp. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 2003. ISBN 1895571464, $39.95 (cloth); 1895571472, $29.95 (paper).
Serhii Plokhy, Tsars and Cossacks: A Study in Iconography. 132 pp., illus. Cambridge, MA: Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University, 2002. ISBN 0916458954. $18.95.
Serhii Plokhy and Frank E. Sysyn, Religion and Nation in Modern Ukraine. 216 pp. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 2003. ISBN 1895571456, $39.95 (cloth); 1895571367, $27.95 (paper).

The year 2003 was exceptionally rich in books entirely or partly devoted to the topic that is usually called "Russian–Ukrainian relations." These publications provide a good occasion to discuss not only the current state of historiography on the subject but also problems and achievements of the past decade, when the emergence of independent Ukraine made this subject especially popular. Not all these works, however, are completely new: some of them are essentially more or less modified articles collected together under one cover for the first time; and one book, even though most of its articles have never been published before, waited almost a decade to see the light of day.1 It is worth starting my review with Culture, Nation, and Identity. [End Page 635]

The four seminars on Russian–Ukrainian relations that took place alternately in New York and Cologne in 1994–95 as part of a project organized by Andreas Kappeler and Mark von Hagen, in cooperation with Frank Sysyn and Zenon Kohut, have played a significant role in defining a research agenda for the Ukrainian problematika. While reviewing previous scholarly accomplishments, the seminars also gave important impetus to further work. Indeed, the present writer himself selected a Ukrainian topic for further research under the influence of impressions (positive and negative) gathered at one of the seminars.

One of the tasks that the project organizers set for themselves but could not accomplish was to bring in specialists from Russia and Ukraine, and not just Western historians. This was in part because, as a consequence of Soviet research policies limiting the study of Ukrainian themes only to Ukrainian researchers, hardly any Russian historians specialized in 18th- and 19th-century Ukrainian history. In the beginning of the 1980s, as a part of my candidate's dissertation on Polish social thought in Galicia, I wrote a chapter about Polish–Ukrainian relations in this Habsburg province. However, I was immediately warned not to delve into this seemingly innocuous subject if I was interested in not just writing my dissertation but also in successfully defending it. Even by the end of the 1980s, my suggestions about the need to study Ukraine-related topics were met with blank incomprehension on the part of administrators of the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Academy of Sciences (who, unfortunately, remain in the same positions today). The department of the "History of Eastern Slavdom" was created in the Institute of Slavic Studies only in the second half of the 1990s. The institutional "location" of this department in the Institute of Slavic Studies (traditionally concerned with research on "foreign" Slavs) and not the Institute of Russian History, where study of the Russian empire usually takes place, shows how current political geography defines the...