Miroslav Tomek

“They would be surprised that Banderites spoke Russian”. Perception of Ukraine in Czechoslovakia during 1945-1989 and its Repercussions Nowadays

More than one and a half year lasts the international crisis over Ukraine. Its Czech reflection, as we see it in different media outlets, is strongly influenced by lasting stereotypes from times of socialism. These stereotypes still hold some significance, because Czech society after the fall of communism shows considerable ignorance of the current situation in Eastern Europe, especially in its non-Russian parts. That is why we can see so often pure instrumentalization of recent developments, which are usually interpreted with no comprehension for its complexity in clear dependence on the political conviction of every commentator. My project aims to describe and analyze different ways of representations of Ukraine after World War II in Czechoslovakia and its influence on present public debate. I mostly focus on images of Ukraine in art, especially cinema and literature, as it appeared in Czech cultural space. Some of its elements may originate in Soviet propaganda of the time, while others were only known in Czechoslovakia. Only specific parts of Ukrainian Soviet culture were accessible to the public, as it can be clearly seen from a survey of translations, made and published during the years under study. As a result, these policies led to the creation of a certain image of Ukraine and Ukrainians, more or less matching the concept of “Soviet people”.

Miroslav Tomek started his university studies in 2004 at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, and finished two study programmes: East-European Studies (Ukrainian) and History. During his studies he became interested especially in contemporary Ukrainian history and literature. He started his PhD in history in 2012 at the Institute of World History of Charles University. He is working on a PhD project on Ukrainian migration to the interwar Czechoslovakia. His thesis provides a complex description and analysis of the problem of Ukrainian emigration in this period. He is also a translator and published a couple of literary translations from Ukrainian to Czech: particularly Serhiy Zhadan’s short story collection Big Mac and Moscoviad and the famous novel of Yuri Andrukhovych (both in cooperation with Alexej Sevruk). He is a regular author of book reviews, focusing on translations from Ukrainian and other East European languages.

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