Three Perspectives on Ethnography from Ukraine: The Mysterious Tale of a Lost Hutsul Manuscript, Its Recovery, and the Dialogues that Ensued

Sonevytsky, Maria Rostyslava

At the historic meeting of folklorists, ethnographers and ethnomusicologists on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Department of Ukrainian Folklore at Ivan Franko University in L'viv, Ukraine, old and new models of scholarship clashed, in ways both subtle and fierce. Generations of Ukrainian scholars, in addition to three representatives from the U.S. (myself included) took part in the meeting.1 Papers ranged from analyses in the Soviet formalist folklore style—now reinvented as the nationalist Ukrainian style—to papers exploring the archives and biographies of founders of the discipline in Ukraine (including Filaret Kolessa, after whom the department is named). Topics discussed also revealed generational rifts in what constituted valid terrain for folklore studies: when some young scholars tackled subjects such as how mass e-mail love notes can be considered modern folklore, or explored the humorous texts of Ukrainian-Canadian kolomyjky (rural Western Ukrainian dance songs) that have a vibrant second life in the diaspora, their papers would often be met with pointed questions about intellectual worth from the elders of the field, accusations of irreverence or irrelevance coquettishly or ironically rebutted by younger presenters.

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Harriman Institute
The Harriman Institute, Columbia University
The Harriman Review
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January 7, 2021