The Launch of Mapa: Digital Atlas of Ukraine

famine gis meeting Planning session at HURI with GIS project partners from Ukraine: R. Sossa of Kartographia and H. Boriak of the Institute of History of Ukraine, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

The study of the Holodomor, the Great Ukrainian Famine of 1932–1933, has been steadily gaining momentum. In New York City on November 5–6, 2013, the conference "Taking Measure of the Holodomor" took place as part of the Zenowia and George Jurkiw Ukrainian Historical Encounters Series. The date was chosen to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of the Great Famine.

The conference focused on questions like, Why did the Holodomor happen? Who were its victims? Who were the perpetrators? What lessons can be drawn from the Holodomor and other genocides?  These are, indeed, questions not only for historians but also for the whole of humanity.

They are also the core issues addressed by the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute's Mapa: Digital Atlas of Ukraine, a project based on the construction of a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based digital map of the Holodomor.  The Atlas was launched on November the fifth at the conference in New York City. Presenting the Digital Atlas, Professor Serhii Plokhii, Director of HURI and supervisor of the project, said, "The maps included in the Atlas are part and parcel of a newly created and growing database that makes it possible to link various levels of spatial analysis ranging from the district (raion) to Soviet Ukraine as a whole, and to compare demographic, economic, environmental, and political indicators in relation to a given administrative unit.

levchuk gisN. Levchuk presenting data that is being used for the Mapa project at a HURI seminar.

All these maps are also available as parts of the interactive map of the Great Famine, which offers everyone using the website an opportunity not only to check the accuracy of our hypotheses but also to formulate his or her own questions and conduct independent research by comparing different layers of the map. What follows is the first attempt to make sense of the data we have collected and the maps we have produced on its basis. It is presented in the form of a chronological narrative that includes references to individual maps, but is not and should not be regarded as an attempt at a comprehensive interpretation of the history of the Great Famine."

In the absence of reliable historical data on population losses in Ukraine at the oblast and raion levels, the scholars working on the Mapa project set out to collect, examine, and systematize all available documents and data in their specific areas of research, including collectivization in Ukraine, government policies, blacklisted communities, testimony of Famine survivors. As a result of their efforts, new demographic data has been produced and incorporated into the project. Researchers who contributed to the project include Oleh Wolowyna (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); Omelian Rudnytsky, Natalia Levchuk, Pavlo Shevchuk and Alla Savchuk (the Institute for Demography and Social Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine); Joseph Livesey (New York University); Hennadii Yefymenko and Heorhii Papakhin (Institute of History, Kyiv) and Tetiana Boriak (National Academy of Cadres in Culture and Arts). Liudmyla Hrynevych (Institute of History, Kyiv) provided data for the map of the 1928 famine and Hennadii Boriak offered intellectual leadership for all aspects of the project conducted in Ukraine. Research on the project has been supported by HURI and the Ukrainian Studies Fund. All the maps were prepared specifically for the HURI website by the chief cartographer of the Digital Atlas of Ukraine Gennadi Pobereżny and by HURI's IT director Kostyantyn Bondarenko. The Mapa: Digital Atlas of Ukraine project has taken three years to develop and is now available to students, scholars, and anyone who is interested to learn more about this tragic chapter of Ukrainian history.

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