Witnessing the War in Ukraine: Testimony in the Pursuit of Justice

Summer Institute

27-30 August, 2024 – Wrocław, Poland

Call for Applications

As an urgent response to the Russian military aggression against sovereign Ukraine, several partner institutions launched the Summer Institute Witnessing the War in Ukraine in July 2022 and then hosted the Second Institute in June 2023. Over the two years, the circumstances of the war led to the rapid growth of grassroot activism and formation of new research communities both in Ukraine and beyond. As academic researchers, we consider it as our professional and ethical obligation to continue the initiative we introduced two years ago to further disseminate our academic expertise in oral history, ethnography, memory studies, interview research and research of witness literature, as well as to share this knowledge with a broad and evolving community of practitioners working in various local settings.

The third Summer Institute in 2024 will focus on testimony research in the pursuit of justice, with an ambition to chart novel disciplinary approaches for oral history, memory studies and anthropology, while affording victims of the war a space of trust, empowerment and dignity.

We invite the prospective WWSI 2024 participants to bring to the limelight, contextualize and interrogate injustice as it has been witnessed, observed and experienced, from a variety of conceptual and disciplinary perspectives, across diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural groups of Ukraine. Testimonies provided by eyewitnesses play a pivotal role in uncovering crimes, establishing culpability of war criminals, and securing redress for victims. The first-hand testimonies serve not only as crucial components in legal proceedings but also as a solid basis for upholding human rights and international law during armed conflicts. Moreover, such juridical work with witnesses lays the groundwork for restoring trust in the legal system and fostering peace in post-conflict societies.

The concept of genocide is of special interest within the framework of WWSI 2024. Since 2014 the rhetoric of genocide has been tested to provide a juridical qualification of the crimes of the Russian Federation committed in Ukraine. We will discuss existing scholarly approaches and gauge the possibility of qualifying assaults against one’s life, one’s group identity, one’s cultural heritage and one’s natural habitat as crimes of genocide in a comparative perspective. Another focus of WWSI 2024 is proposed to be on experiences of occupation and pursuit of justice in the formerly occupied territories.

Among the confirmed invited speakers are:

Oksana Dovgopolova, Odessa I.I. Mechnikov National University

Gabriele Rosenthal, University of Göttingen

Kristina Hook, Kennesaw State University’s School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development

Dirk Moses,  City College of New York

Hasan Hasanović, Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Centre

Claudia Seymour, Geneva Graduate Institute

Yevheniia Podobna, Journalist & documentarian

Nataliya Zubar, Maidan Monitoring Information Centre

Józef Markiewicz, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

What to expect

Over the course of four days, the institute will offer a series of presentations, workshops, and mentorship opportunities examining current trends in scholarly and creative reflections on witnessing the war in Ukraine. Invited speakers and faculty will lead such discussions and invited participants will be offered opportunities to discuss their work with other members of the Institute. Testimonials to the work of the previous Summer Institute can be found here.

The Summer Institute will be held in person in Wrocław, Poland. The working language of the Institute is English.

The registration fee for the Summer Institute is 200 EURO.

In support of accepted participants residing in Ukraine, the travel grant (covering travel, accommodation and registration fee) will be announced.

To participate in the Institute, apply here.

Your application should include a personal statement in English explaining how this Summer Institute will benefit your scholarly and/or creative work and ongoing or planned projects, a brief bio, and contact information.

Important Deadlines and Dates:

Application Deadline — 15 May, 2024

Notifications of Acceptance — 1 June, 2024

Summer Institute — 27-30 August, 2024


Lund University, Sweden

Huculak Chair in Ukrainian Culture and Ethnography, University of Alberta, Canada

Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Oral History Association, Ukraine

Polish Oral History Association, Poland

Dobra Wola Foundation, Poland

Centrum Historii Zajezdnia

Ukrainian-German Historical Commission

Organizing Committee

  • Natalia Khanenko-Friesen — Oral historian and cultural anthropologist, Director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies and Huculak Chair in Ukrainian Culture and Ethnography, both at University of Alberta; Co-Head of Ukrainian Oral History Association.
  • Eleonora Narvselius — Anthropologist from Lund University, currently leading the research project Ukrainians in Poland: Making Home in Times of Peace and War, in collaboration with Wrocław University.
  • Gelinada Grinchenko — Oral historian, Philipp Schwartz Fellow at the University of Wuppertal (Germany); Co-Head of Ukrainian Oral History Association.
  • Alina Doboszewska — Researcher at the Institute of Sociology of Jagiellonian University, NGO activist, founder and president of the Dobra Wola Foundation in Krakow.

For more information, contact wwsi2023@ualberta.ca

Summer Institute Website: Witnessing the War in Ukraine Summer Institute | Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (ualberta.ca)