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387 Ab Imperio, 2/2003 Alexander SEMYONOV FROM THE EDITORS. A WINDOW ON THE DILEMMAS OF HISTORY WRITING ON EMPIRE AND NATION In this issue of Ab Imperio, we continue “The State of Art in History Writing on Empire and Nation” series. This project reviews the state of post-Soviet historiography as it encounters the problems of an imperial and national past. The project seeks to situate the works of historians in both the diachronic and synchronic contexts of intellectual traditions, national identity canons, contemporary nation-building, and identity politics in the post-Soviet space as they draw on constructions of the past and its historical boundaries. The present issue features a discussion forum on the problems, dilemmas, and trajectories of the historical profession in contemporary Ukraine and the writing of Ukrainian history. The editors entertain a hope that this forum is especially potent for simultaneously demonstrating the vicissitudes of national history writing and problematic encounters with the imperial past. Recognizing the centrality of Ukrainian history for the new field of empire and nationalism studies in the former Soviet Union, the editors chose to publish a Russian translation of Mark von Hagen’s article “Does Ukraine Have a History?” in Ab Imperio’s first issue.1 As works by A. Kappeler, 1 Ab Imperio. 2000. No. 1. Pp. 37-51. 388 A. Semyonov, From the Editors: A Window on the Dilemmas of History ... M. von Hagen, and A. Miller appeared, the Ukrainian case established itself as one of the “visible nationality questions” (in R. Pearson’s words) in the former Russian empire and assumed the role of a testing ground for hypotheses regarding the general nature of the Russian (rossiiskoe) imperial state and society. In contrast to the Polish (another “visible”) question, the Ukrainian case presented a more complex problem for students of Russian (rossiiskaia) imperial history: the boundaries of Ukrainian nation-building were less clear cut and often confused by competing Russian (russkii) and Polish national projects; multiple identities were further complicated by the presence of strong regional traditions (especially in Eastern parts of what came to be known as contemporary Ukraine); the predominantly peasant nation-building and the historical legacy of a frontier zone between Catholic, Orthodox, and Judaic worlds makes it necessary to consider the religious dimension of concepts of Ukrainian nationhood; the cultural, linguistic, and religious affinity of peasant population in Galicia of the Habsburg empire and southwestern region of the Russian empire and persistent references to that affinity made by Ukrainian nation-builders and empire minded bureaucrats make the Ukrainian case an illustration of the acute need of comparative research in the history of the macro-region of continental empires. The thriving interest to Ukrainian history on the side of those Western scholars who were called Russianists a decade ago powerfully demonstrates the potential of national history to spur the diversification and enrichment of imperial history. It is capable of attesting to the multinational composition of imperial society, presenting the history of empire “from below,” illuminating the “top-down” machinery of the imperial government , and revealing minutiae interactions in socially, culturally and ethnically heterogeneous milieu. Thus, it was, to name but a few, the work by Z. Kohut (Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy: Imperial Absorption of the Hetmanate, 1760s-1830s) that enriched historians’understanding of the development of the Russian (rossiiskii) imperial state, echoed recently in K. Matsuzato’s thesis of three cores comprising the history of Russian statehood,2 the work by D. Saunders (The Ukrainian Impact on Russian 2 Z. Kohut. Russian Centralism and Ukrainian Autonomy: Imperial Absorption of the Hetmanate, 1760s-1830s. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988; K. Matsuzato. General-Governorships in the Russian Empire: From Ethno-Centric to Territorial Approach // New Imperial History. Moscow: Ab Imperio & New Literary Review, forthcoming. 389 Ab Imperio, 2/2003 Culture 1750-1850) that expanded our understanding of cultural interactions and influences between the imperial core and borderlands (in keeping with P. N. Miliukov’s thesis),3 and the work by A. Miller (‘Ukrainskii vopros’v politike vlastei i russkom obshchestvennom mnenii) that offered an insight into the dilemmas of Russian nation-building from the perspective of the Russian-Ukrainian encounter.4 As the Ukrainian case served...


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