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Svitlana Frunchak

Contact Details
I am currently in the 5th year of my Doctoral program in History at University of Toronto.
My interests include, geographically, Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; thematically, urban development, borderland and local cultures, and nationalism.
My graduate studies and research have been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Open Society Institute (OSI), American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies (FURS), Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program (OGS), and University of Toronto. I am an active member of the Canadian Association of Slavists and the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. My Historiographic Guide to Modern Bukovina will be published next year.

What I'm Working On:
Through the focused lens of an urban history, I study dramatic and destructive (pseudo-) rational pressure applied by the authoritarian state to distinct human communities. Throughout World War II and the postwar period, the city of Czernowitz/Cernauţi/Chernivtsi was transformed from an extremely diverse human community and unique urban space into a culturally uniform Soviet socialist city. A onetime Hapsburg provincial capital and a part of the Romanian state in the interwar decades, Chernivtsi was home to comparable numbers of German, Yiddish, Ukrainian, Romanian, and Polish speakers up until World War II. As the Soviets finally took power in the city in 1944, they not only sponsored large-scale in-migration from the USSR to Chernivtsi, but also “repopulated” its history, creating a new urban myth of cultural uniformity in accordance with the official Soviet Ukrainian “sciences” of history and ethnography. As a result of this social and cultural engineering, Chernivtsi emerged from the war, the Holocaust, and Soviet reconstruction as an almost homogeneous Ukrainian city that allegedly had always longed for re-unification with its Slavic brethren. What happened in the wake of the demographic, but not physical, ruin of this borderland city was a part of a larger trend of postwar modernity in Europe – that of creating a purified nation-space according to the universal modern understanding of the national form as the only acceptable form of human society. While most studies of similar borderlands focus on World War II and the Holocaust as a violent culmination of pre-war homogenization efforts, my study picks up at the critical moment when the major violence was over, and the long work of silencing the disturbing history began. I explore how, after the Holocaust and several large-scale repatriation projects, Chernivtsi’s past was reconceived in terms of Ukrainian nation-space and used by the Soviet city authorities, planners, and intellectuals to instruct Chernivtsi dwellers how to identify themselves collectively in relation to their collective memory, history, and culture. I examine how urban planning aided in creating a new unified Soviet Ukrainian culture that took on the appearance of historical timelessness. I also investigate the myths that served to interpret the historical heritage of Soviet Chernivtsi.

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