The KU Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Partners with Lawrence Public Library to Present The Perspectives on Ukraine Series
Almost a year has passed since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The KU Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREES), in partnership with Lawrence Public Library, presents the Perspectives on Ukraine Series, which aims to teach the community about the war and its effects on Ukraine and its people. The series is also intended to introduce community members to Ukrainian culture and inspire them to learn more about Ukraine’s history and its future prospects.
CREES Director Dr. Erik Scott notes that “the war has placed Ukraine at the center of the public’s attention like never before, and KU stands out nationally for its expertise on the country’s rich and diverse history, society, and culture.” Terese Winters, Information Services Librarian at Lawrence Public Library, says that the library “is honored to host this series, in partnership with CREES. Ukraine serves as a global example of courage in defending democracy at great cost, as the country heads into a second year of war. We are fortunate for the opportunity to come together as a community and learn from our expert speakers.”
Human Trafficking Dynamics and the War in Ukraine
The first event in the series will take place on Monday February 13th at 6:00pm in the Lawrence Public Library Auditorium. Dr. Laura Dean will give a talk titled “Human Trafficking Dynamics and the War in Ukraine.” The event will include an activity where attendees can send well wishes and cards to victims/survivors of human trafficking and sexual violence in Ukraine.
Dr. Dean’s talk will discuss how Russia’s war has exacerbated human trafficking in Ukraine, including child begging, forced labor, and sex trafficking. She will discuss how wartime conditions have created vulnerabilities for women and children using data from interviews with anti-trafficking advocates and participant observation at centers for displaced persons in Ukraine and refugee reception centers in Europe.
Dr. Laura Dean, Associate Professor of Political Science at Millikin University
Dr. Dean is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Human Trafficking Research Lab at Millikin University. She is the author of Diffusing Human Trafficking Policy in Eurasia published by Policy Press in 2020.
A proud Jayhawk, she graduated from the University of Kansas in 2014 with a Ph.D. in Political Science. She also has a Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and an MA in Political Science from KU.
How Russia's War is Changing Ukraine
The second event in the Perspectives on Ukraine series will take place on Tuesday March 7, 2023 at 6:00pm in the Lawrence Public Library Auditorium. Dr. Oleksandra Wallo, originally from Lviv, Ukraine, will give a talk titled “How Russia’s War is Changing Ukraine.”
When Putin’s regime launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, Russian troops marched in with hit lists of Ukrainians to target and some carried dress uniforms for a planned victory parade in central Kyiv. Although Ukrainians managed to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, the cost has been incredibly steep. In a talk a few days following the February 24, 2022 invasion, Dr. Wallo spoke of the incredible Ukrainian spirit. She stated, “the factor that no one took into account, not Putin, not the West, not even some Ukrainians, is that it’s not only weapons and numbers that matter, it’s also the reasons why people are fighting.”
A year later, the war goes on, and it continues to affect every aspect of life in Ukraine. Dr. Wallo’s talk will address the ways in which Ukrainian society, culture, and daily life have been transformed by the war. It will touch on demographic, economic, and political changes and discuss in greater depth the cultural response to the war.
Dr. Oleksandra Wallo, Associate Professor, KU Department of Slavic, German, and Eurasian Studies
Oleksandra Wallo is Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic, German, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Kansas. Her research focuses both on teaching Ukrainian as a foreign language and on contemporary Ukrainian literature and culture. Her book, Ukrainian Women Writers and the National Imaginary: From the Collapse of the USSR to the Euromaidan, was published in 2020 by the University of Toronto Press and received Honorable Mention for the 2021 Omeljan Pritsak Book Prize in Ukrainian Studies. Prof. Wallo is also the author of an open-education online resource on basic Ukrainian grammar, Dobra Forma published by the Open Language Resource Center at the University of Kansas.
Ukrainian Women at War: Historical Legacies and Present-Day Challenges
As part of a different series, the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REES) Reframed Lecture Series, KU CREES welcomes Dr. Oksana Kis (Institute of Ethnology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine). Dr. Kis will give a talk on March 2, 2023, in Forum C of the Burge Union at 7:00pm titled "Ukrainian Women at War: Historical Legacies and Present-Day Challenges."
Her talk will explore the phenomenon of women’s large-scale participation in the Ukrainian army during the current Russian war on Ukraine. It contextualizes Ukrainian women's military participation using the background of the historical legacy of Ukrainian women's military service during the two world wars as well as in the armed anti-Soviet nationalist resistance in 1940-50s. The events of the Euro-Maidan and subsequent Russia’s aggression on Donbas will be discussed as turning points in the changing public perception of women-soldiers towards further normalization of militant femininity in public discourse.
Dr. Oksana Kis, Institute of Ethnology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Oksana Kis is a feminist historian and anthropologist, a head of the Department of Social Anthropology at the Institute of Ethnology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (in Lviv). She has served as a President of the Ukrainian Association for Research in Women’s History since 2010, and is also a co-founder and a vice-president of the Ukrainian Oral History Association.
Ukrainian Pysanky Workshop
The final event in the Perspectives on Ukraine Series will take place on Friday April 7, 2023 from 2:00pm to 5:00pm in the Lawrence Public Library Auditrium. Dr. Megan Luttrell, Outreach Coordinator for the KU Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, will lead a workshop on Ukrainian pysanky (decorated eggs). She will teach participants to make their own pysanka, as well as give them an introduction to the ancient art’s history and symbolism. The workshop is limited to 20 participants. You can sign up on the library’s website.
Dr. Luttrell received her PhD from KU in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures in 2018. She has taught Russian language and literature at the University of Kansas, Indiana University, and Colby College. She is passionate about music, art, and literature, as well as community engagement.
Dr. Megan Luttrell, Outreach Coordinator for the KU Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studes (CREES)
As the CREES Outreach Coordinator, Dr. Luttrell manages numerous outreach programs to the broader community. She organizes art and dance workshops and the CREES Spring Festival. She teaches Russian language to students at area middle schools, participates in multicultural story time at both the Lawrence and Baldwin libraries, and leads a foreign language program at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center.
The pysanka is a symbol of life, spring, and renewal. It has also been a part of Ukrainian culture since pre-Christian times. Megan hopes closing the event series with a pysanky workshop will foster a sense of hope and inspire members of the community to appreciate and learn more about Ukraine and its beautiful culture.
KU’s Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies (CREES) has been a national leader for the study of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since 1959 and is the only federally-designated resource center on this crucial world area in the Great Plans. CREES, in collaboration with the Department of Slavic, German, and Eurasian Studies, oversees undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The center is an interdisciplinary hub that helps train K-12 teachers and post-secondary educators, and shares its expertise with partners in business, media, the military, and government.
Each year, CREES hosts numerous public events on campus and in the community, bringing leading experts on Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia to Kansas and exploring the region’s crucial significance for understanding the contemporary world.