On February 24, 2022, drawing upon a variety of demonstrably false historical analogies, Vladimir Putin ordered a mass invasion of Ukraine, extending a war that had been ongoing since 2014. Ukrainians have suffered horrific crimes at the hands of the Russian invader, but Ukraine has inspired the world through its remarkable resistance and resilience. How can an understanding of history help us make sense of this earthshaking event?
When we try to understand the present, we always call upon our knowledge of the past in a variety of ways—through a search for origins, through historical causal explanation, through historical analogy, and through an exploration of the politicized use and misuse of history by contemporary political and cultural figures. Often we only implicitly draw upon history to understand the present, but how do we explicitly build our base of historical knowledge and use it to understand current events?
In this speaker series, a dozen professional historians will present the results of their career-long research, and explicitly address the question of how they use their knowledge of history to make sense of the war.
What is Ukraine and how did it come to be the object of Putin’s violent obsession? How do Ukraine’s history and culture help us understand the rise of this nation and their resistance and resilience? How does the history of European imperialism, nationalism, and post-colonialism help us understand Ukraine's post-Soviet independence? Can military history or the history of international law help us understand this war? What historical analogies are appropriate to our understanding of this war? Through this series, our audiences will come to better understand Ukraine, Russia, and the events that shook the world in 2022.