Columbia U (US)
Markian Dobczansky is a historian of the Soviet Union, Russian-Ukrainian relations, urban history, and the Cold War. He received a Ph.D. in history from Stanford University and has taught at the University of Toronto and Columbia University. His work has appeared in Nationalities Papers and in Harriman Magazine.
Cold War and the Fate of Ukrainian Culture
Historians have begun to pay more attention to the Soviet Union’s connections to the outside world during the late 1950s and 1960s, demonstrating its transnational entanglements in areas such as decolonization, academic exchanges, pop music, and tourism. Yet the fact that the non-Russian republics played a significant role in carrying out Cold War foreign policy remains underexplored. Based on Soviet sources, this paper argues that Ukrainian party and state institutions were keenly interested in developments among Ukrainian communities in the United States and Canada. Focused around 1960s-era episodes from this Cold War competition, including the 150th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko’s birth and the expulsion of the progressive Ukrainian Canadian student John Kolasky from the USSR, this paper argues that developments within the Ukrainian SSR were strongly linked to the development of the transnational Ukrainian Cold War. The institutions responsible for politics and ideology in the Ukrainian SSR were engaged in policing orthodoxy within their republic as well as countering the arguments of their enemies abroad. As the fate of Ukrainian culture within the Ukrainian SSR became an international question, the party became increasingly impatient with its critics domestically.