huri logo 2015 black

HURI is pleased to announce its seven research fellows for the 2017-2018 academic year.

HURI’s fellowship program offers funding for research in Ukrainian studies at all stages of an academic career. Our fellows conduct research in residence at HURI while making use of the extensive resources at Harvard University, participating in seminars, and connecting with other scholars in the field.

My time spent at Harvard was one of the most intense and productive periods of my academic career. I was very happy to experience--and be charmed by--the highly intellectual and very inspiring atmosphere of Harvard University and the Ukrainian Research Institute. The fellowship at HURI was beneficial not only for work on my research project, but also for establishing useful contacts and cooperation with scholars that specialize in my field in the USA.

-Tetyana Bureychak
Sociologist, Shklar Fellow 2010-2011

The diversity in backgrounds and interests of this year’s fellows demonstrates the breadth and depth of the Ukrainian studies field. As specialists of history, literature, poetry, political science, demography, and Medieval studies, our fellows will expand scholarship on Ukraine from the 11th century to the post-Euromaidan era.

Mikhail Akulov 

Fall Semester; The Jaroslaw and Nadia Mihaychuk Postdoctoral Research Fellow

“Between Revolution and Reaction: History of Skoropadsky’s Ukraine”


Born in the Kazakh Soviet Republic, Mikhail Akulov moved to the United States and obtained a B.A. degree in History and Economics from Dartmouth College (2005) and then a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University (2013). After completing his education, he returned to Kazakhstan to assume responsibility for the General Education Department at the Kazakh-British Technical University (KBTU), where he aims to help develop a modern educational system - one attuned to the needs of both the local society and the global community at large.

As a HURI Fellow, Akulov intends to produce a history of the Ukrainian Hetmanate under Pavlo Skoropadsky in 1918. Departing from the conventional view that reduces the state to a wartime creation of Germany, he plans to show it in light of subsequent developments, namely as one of the prefigurations of the anti-Bolshevik far-right regimes which sprang up in interwar Europe.

Polina Barskova 

Spring Semester; Ukrainian Studies Fund Research Fellow

“Ukrainian Poetry in Time of Crisis”

Polina Barskova

Polina Barskova is a Saint Petersburg-born poet, prose writer, and scholar who teaches Russian Literature at Hampshire College. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkley. Her published works include ten collections of poems in Russian, three collections in English translation, and a collection of short stories in Russian, The Living Pictures (2014), for which she was awarded the Andrey Bely Prize (2015).

Her current project explores developments in Ukrainian poetry after the upheaval of the 2014 Euromaidan and during the Russo-Ukrainian “hybrid war” in Donbas. Arguing that the realm of poetical expression is where Ukrainian literary identity is being shaped today, she suggests looking at the field of contemporary Ukrainian poetry as a “rhetorical laboratory where new forms of political expression are being worked out.”

As part of her effort to understand what is happening in Ukrainian poetry today, Barskova will trace the trajectories of international and inter-linguistic influence aesthetically, ideologically, and linguistically. She will also explore which institutions support this momentum of literary intensity—such as publishing houses, festivals, and social media—and the dialogue taking place through translation.

Paul D’Anieri

Fall Semester; The Eugene and Daymel Shklar Research Fellow

“From ‘Civilized Divorce’ to Uncivil War: Russia, Ukraine, and the West, 1991-2017”


Paul D’Anieri is a Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside, also having served as the university’s Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor from 2014 to 2017. His research focuses on politics and foreign policy in post-Soviet states, with an emphasis on Ukraine. His books include The Contest for Social Mobilization in Ukraine (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), Understanding Ukrainian Politics: Power, Politics, and Institutional Design (M.E. Sharpe, 2007), and a textbook, International Politics: Power and Purpose in Global Affairs, currently in its fourth edition. D’Anieri received his BA from Michigan State University (1986) and his Ph.D. from Cornell University (1991).

At HURI, D’Anieri will work on his current project, a book exploring Ukraine’s relations with Russia and the West from 1991 to 2017, focusing on why and how Russia came to invade Ukraine in 2014. “The book will show that, while violence was never inevitable, conflict over Ukraine’s status emerged with the breakup of the Soviet Union and never fully receded,” he said. “Early work on the Russia-Ukraine conflict has focused largely on assigning blame, tending therefore toward advocacy and oversimplification rather than analysis and nuance. The work will be theoretically informed by the political literature on conflict, but will proceed chronologically.” This scholarly analysis of Ukraine’s first 25 years of independence should serves as an unbiased resource for today’s students, journalists, and scholars.

Oleh Kotsyuba

Fall Semester; The Jaroslaw and Nadia Mihaychuk Postdoctoral Research Fellow

“A Quiet Revolution: Ukrainian Poets in Search of an Alternative Reference Frame”


Oleh Kotsyuba holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University in Slavic Languages and Literatures, as well as a "Degree of a Specialist“ in German Language and Literature from the National Pedagogical University of Ternopil, Ukraine, an M.A. in English from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI), and an M.A. in Comparative Literature, Computational Linguistics, and Computer Science from Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. He is currently a College Fellow and Lecturer in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard and Chief Online Editor of Krytyka, an independent Ukrainian intellectual journal (

Kotsyuba will examine the strategies Ukrainian writers employed in the late 1960s and 1970s to deal with the Soviet state and omit it from their work and everyday life to the greatest possible extent. Discussing the life and works of writers such as Vasyl’ Stus, Mykola Vorobiov, Ivan Semenenko, and Hryhorii Chubai, Kotsyuba’s book-length study will illuminate the political and cultural transformations in the late Soviet Union, showing how “revolution” can occur through a gradual replacement of the cultural foundation on which a political regime is built. Such an understanding of revolution might provide clues into the different trajectories of Ukraine and Russia since 1991.

Igor Torbakov

Fall Semester; Ukrainian Studies Fund Research Fellow

“Symbolic Geographies of Empire: The Ukrainian Factor in Russia-Europe Relations”


A trained historian, Igor Torbakov specializes in Russian and Eurasian history and politics. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University and an Associate Senior Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm. He has been a research scholar and visiting fellow at numerous academic institutions in Europe and the United States. Torbakov holds an MA in History from Moscow State University and a PhD from the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. His recent publications discuss the history of Russian nationalism, Russian-Ukrainian relations, the links between Russia’s domestic politics and foreign policy, Russia’s and Turkey’s geopolitical discourses, and the politics of history and memory wars in Eastern Europe.

For his research at HURI, Torbakov poses a two-part question: 1) how the differing, imperial-like natures of Russia and the European Union (coupled with political imagination of their respective elites) make it hard for them to find an accommodation in their shared—and contested—neighborhood; 2) how the recent EU-Russia dynamics prompted Moscow policy elite to re-conceptualize Russia as a distinct civilization, apart from Europe.

While exploring these issues, the project will maintain a special focus on Ukraine, whose role in the Russia-Europe relationship has historically been and continues to be pivotal. Torbakov’s contribution of a deeper historical contextualization of the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, Russia’s rift with Europe, and the reasons behind the Russo-Ukrainian war, will add perspective to existing works focused mainly on contemporary factors.

Nataliia Levchuk

Spring Semester; HURI MAPA Project Research Fellow

“Explaining Regional Distribution of 1933 Holodomor Losses in Ukraine: Patterns and Possible Determinants”


Nataliia Levchuk is a Senior Researcher at the Ptoukha Institute of Demography and Social Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. She received her PhD in Demography from the Institute of Economics and the Institute of Demography and Social Studies. During 2008-2010 she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the International Max Planck Research School for Demography in Rostock, Germany, and in 2012-2013 she was a Visiting Fellow at HURI, working on The Great Famine project.

This year, Levchuk will continue her contribution to scholarship on the Holodomor and the MAPA: Digital Atlas of Ukraine program. Her current project will explore the factors accounting for variations in excess deaths, an aspect of the famine that has been less systematically explored than others. Levchuk will define possible determinants of these regional differences and measure the influence of these variables on mortality patterns in rural areas. By collecting socioeconomic and contextual indicators at the oblast and raion level and then completing a statistical analysis of the data, Levchuk intends to connect the historical record of the Holodomor with estimates of population losses at the raion level. This project may also help clarify and enhance the existing hypotheses on the famine’s regional variation in losses.

Natalia Zajac 

Spring Semester; The Eugene and Daymel Shklar Research Fellow

“Forgotten Female Rulers of Medieval Europe: Reconstructing the Reigns of Ten Early Rus’ Queens, Noblewomen, and Princesses, 1000-1250”


Natalia Zajac recently completed her PhD at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, with a dissertation entitled, “Women Between West and East: The Inter-Rite Marriages of the Kyivan Rus’ Dynasty, ca. 1000-1204.” Her research examines the frequent marriage alliances formed between the Orthodox Riurikid dynasty and Latin Christian (Catholic) rulers. Her publications include a study of the reign of Queen Anna Yaroslavna, the wife of King Henri I of France, (published in 2016) and a critical re-examination how consanguinity regulations influenced the frequency of Orthodox-Catholic intermarriage in Rus’ (published in 2016). Zajac is also a published poet and serves as the newsletter editor for the Early Slavic Studies Association (ESSA).

At HURI, Zajac will expand upon her previous research to examine the cultural patronage and political activities of Rus’-born princesses who became Western medieval queens, duchesses, and noblewomen and, vice versa, of Western brides who came to Rus’ to marry into the Riurikid dynasty. Exploring the history of religious-cultural contacts between Kyivan Rus’ and Western Europe, Zajac seeks to illuminate the connection and tensions between Roman Catholicism and Byzantine Orthodoxy. By following the inter-religious dynastic marriages linking Kyivan Rus’ and Western Europe, she will challenge the notion that Western Europe and Ukraine can be separated along Catholic/Orthodox lines, while also contributing to a re-examination of women’s influence in medieval societies.

Fulbright scholar: Olha Poliukhovych

In addition to awarding research fellowships, HURI also hosts Ukrainian Fulbright scholars from time to time. This year, we’re pleased to welcome Olha Poliukhovych.

“In Search of Cultural and National Selfhoods: Rethinking Yurii Kosach From a Contemporary Perspective”


Olha Poliukhovych received her PhD in Philosophy and Literature from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in 2015. She teaches several courses at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Department of Literature) and is Managing Editor of Kyiv-Mohyla Humanities Journal ( Her research interests include modernist literature, identity politics, power relations, memory studies, gender studies, displacement and émigré literature. She has presented her research at academic conferences in Canada, Georgia, the UK, and Ukraine. Olha Poliukhovych’s most recent publications are “The Artist’s Longing and Belonging: Cultural Sensitivity in Yurii Kosach’s Narratives” (2016) and “The National Odyssey: Culture, Melancholy, and Nostalgia in Regina Pontica by Yuri Kosach” (2017).

Her current research concerns Yurii Kosach’s life and literary works in a broad perspective, accenting the complexity of his search for the Ukrainian nation in cultural and political terms. Kosach was a 20th century Ukrainian émigré prose writer, dramatist, poet, essayist, and artist. “Kosach’s works, all written in Ukrainian, enrich Ukrainian culture and add new perspectives to its development in the 20th century,” Poliukhovych said. “His works are a valuable source of subjects and stories which reshape the canon of Ukrainian literature and its place in a global context.”

Within her project, Poliukhovych aims to research his biography by conducting interviews with people who knew Kosach, work in archives, search for Kosach’s unknown works, and write articles using new research in the fields of memory and national & cultural identity. Through her review of Kosach’s life and works as a unique phenomenon, Poliukhovych intends to provide an additional clue to understanding Ukrainian cultural processes of the 20th century and today.