Witnessing the War in Ukraine: Vectors of Reflection, Practices of Documentation

Mon, Jun 12, 2023 - Fri, Jun 16, 2023

Witnessing the War in Ukraine:

Vectors of Reflection, Practices of Documentation

Summer Institute

12-16 June, 2023 - Krakow, Poland

In response to the unfolding humanitarian trauma caused by the Russian full scale invasion of Ukraine launched on 24 February 2022, researchers in humanities and social sciences have stepped forward and engaged in active collection of evidence and testimonies. The war in Ukraine is so far the most well-documented modern military conflict, which poses a range of questions and challenges. What are the ethical implications of this ‘rapid scholarly response’ to the war? How do researchers conceive of and partake in fieldwork in these times? What does witnessing imply under current circumstances? How has witnessing been facilitated, framed, instrumentalized and reflected upon on various scales and in different contexts?We see it as our professional and ethical obligation to continue the initiative we introduced last year to further facilitate the exchange of the academic expertise in oral history, ethnography, interview research and research of witness literature, and share knowledge with a broad and evolving community of practitioners working in various local settings. 

WWSI 2023 will build on the success of the previous Summer Institute and will expand its focus to allow war testimony documentarians—scholars and community-based researchers, oral historians and journalists, writers and performers—to reflect on their work. The goal of our second institute is to formulate key conceptual issues concerning the praxis and ethics of wartime research, as well as create a new transnational research network connecting researchers, activists and creative individuals involved in the collection of testimonies of the war.

Over the course of five days, invited presenters and participants will engage in a series of presentations and workshops examining current trends in scholarly and creative reflections on witnessing the war in Ukraine. Invited speakers and faculty will lead such discussions focusing on witnessing the war and reflecting on its impact via various media, scholarly and creative practices, including film, theater, journalism, ethnography and autoethnography, oral history and storytelling. Invited participants will be offered opportunities to discuss their work with other members of the institute.


Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, Canada

Lund University, Sweden

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Sweden

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Warsaw, Poland

Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Dobra Wola Foundation, Poland

Ukrainian Oral History Association, Ukraine

Polish Oral History Association, Poland

This is an in-person event 

Registration has closed for this event. Please contact the event planner for more information.

Location details

Address: Villa Decius Association, 28 Lipca 1943, Kraków, Poland


WWSI 2023 Registration

Lunch Break

Opening Remarks

Welcome messages from the WWSI 2023 Organizing Committee:

Eleonora Narvselius, Lund University, Sweden

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen, University of Alberta, Canada

Grażyna Kubica-Heller, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Alina Doboszewska, Dobra Wola Foundation, Poland

Marcin Jarząbek, Polish Oral History Assoсiation, Poland

Kateryna Bilotserkovets, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Ukraine

To join us ONLINE click here

Screening Iryna Tsilyk's film "Earth Blue As an Orange"

The film is about single mother Anna and her four children who live in the front-line war zone of Donbas, Ukraine. While the outside world is made up of bombings and chaos, the family is managing to keep their home as a safe haven, full of life and full of light. Every member of the family has a passion for cinema, motivating them to shoot a film inspired by their own life during a time of war.

Moderator: Eleonora Narvselius


Discussion with Iryna Tsilyk "What documentary films do in the wartime"

I’m a Ukrainian film director and I make fiction and documentary films. Over the years of Russia’s war against Ukraine, various metamorphoses had happened to Ukrainian cinema. All its types and genres use different tools to somehow deal with reflecting on this new reality. But as to my opinion, documentary filmmaking has its special moment, therefore let’s talk about its role, advantages and methods today.

What power nonfiction filmmaking has in the times of war? Which instruments does it use? What is the role of the author’s view and what do we mean by truth in documentary films? What ethical challenges do we have working with the characters of our films? How documentary filmmaking could be useful for the fight for human and civil rights, as well as cultural diplomacy? These are often debatable questions that do not have simple answers. But the constant search is also an important process in the formation of today's cinema.

I’d like to reflect on these and other questions using examples from my own work on films “The Earth Is Blue As an Orange”, "Invisible Battalion” and the one I’m working on now. Q&A will be also an important part of my presentation, since I believe in dialogues and I feel open to your questions. 

Speaker: Iryna Tsilyk

Moderator: Eleonora Narvselius

To join us ONLINE click here


Welcome Dinner


Ibis Krakow Centrum

ibis Kraków Centrum, Władysława Syrokomli 2, Kraków, Poland

Ibis Krakow Centrum is a great hotel in the centre of Krakow. It is next to the Poland boulevards with convenient access to Wawel Castle, Old Town and Kazimierz Jewish quarter. The hotel location offers easy access to the airport and other important places in Krakow. 

Check-in from 16-00, check-out up to 12-00



Andrii Bondarenko

Playwright, culturologist, journalist

Andrii Bondarenko is a playwright, culturologist, journalist, currently working as a dramaturg at the Lviv Puppet Theatre. He has PhD degree in Philosophy. Many of his plays and documentary texts are dealing with the experience of living in the war-torn country and/or being a displaced person. Among the latest stagings of his texts are “What one can hear in the darkness” at the neue Buhne Theatre in Senftenberg, Germany (2023), “The Rag, or One Evening in a Bomb Shelter” at Lviv Puppet Theatre in Lviv, Ukraine (2022), “Fox Dark as Light Night” at Barons Court Theatre in London, Great Britain (2022), “Lviv Tango” at Maria Zankovetska Theatre in Lviv, Ukraine (2022). His texts were published in several anthologies: “A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War: 20 Short Texts by Ukrainian Playwrights”, (Laertes, USA, 2022); “Ukrainian anthology” of Belgian magazine L'Arbre-à-Palabres, 2022; “Anthology 24”, (Ukraine, 2022). Andrii Bondarenko is a co-founder of Theatre of Playwrights in Kyiv and founder of “Fly and Stone” Theatre in Lviv. 

Alina Doboszewska

Researcher, Jagiellonian University

Alina Doboszewska is a researcher at the Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University, NGO activist: founder and president of the Dobra Wola Foundation in Krakow, member of the Polish Oral History Association and Memory Studies Association. She has completed several oral history projects in Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Sweden, and 11 documentary films based on biographical interviews. Her research interests include practical aspects of oral history methodology, forced resettlement after World War II, everyday life in Stalinist times and the movement of Ukrainian dissidents in the 1960−1980s.

Tamara Duda (Horikha Zernya)

Journalist, writer and translator

Tamara Duda (pen name Horikha Zernya, “Nut Core”), Ukrainian, resides in Kyiv. Journalist, writer and translator. From 2014 to 2016, Tamara Duda was an active front-line volunteer. Together with their partner and then husband Svyatoslav Boyko, they actively raised funds, purchased military stuff, uniforms, equipment and delivered to the front line. In just two years, more than 50 missions to the anti-terrorist operation zone were completed. In 2016, after the birth of her youngest son, Tamara focused on another project, writing a thriller book about the war in the East, aimed at a wider audience. Her debut novel Daughter got the BBC Book of the Year 2019 Award, was ranked among 30 Iconic Books of our Independence and finally got Taras Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine in 2022. The second novel of Tamara Duda, Principle of Interference, was published in 2021 got very favorable feedback from readers and critics.

Gelinada Grinchenko

Professor, V. N. Karazin National University, and Scholar at Risk, University of Wuppertal

Gelinada Grinchenko is a Professor of History at the Department of Ukrainian Studies (Faculty of Philosophy, V. N. Karazin National University, Kharkiv, Ukraine) and Scholar at Risk (Philipp Schwartz-Initiative) at University of Wuppertal, Germany; Co-Head of the German-Ukrainian Historians Commission; Editor-in-Chief of the Ukrainian based academic peer-reviewed journal Ukraina Moderna; Head of the Ukrainian Oral History Association. Her main areas of interest are oral history, the history and memory of WWII, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Memory Studies. She has edited several books and journals, and published many chapters and peer-reviewed articles on these issues. Her latest edited volume is: Listening, Hearing, Understanding: an Oral History of Ukraine in Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (in Ukrainian), ART-KNYHA, Kyiv, 2021. 

Marcin Jarząbek

Assistant Professor, Jagiellonian University

Marcin Jarząbek is an assistant professor at the Department of Historical Anthropology and History Theory at the Institute of History of the Jagiellonian University. He holds a PhD in history from the Jagiellonian University and MA in Central European History from the Central European University in Budapest. He is interested in modern Central Europe's social and cultural history, oral history, memory studies, and the history of concepts. His research focuses on oral history, the collective memory of the First World War veterans and the social history of the railway. He is the author of the book "Legioniści i inni. Pamięć zbiorowa weteranów I wojny światowej w Polsce i Czechosłowacji okresu międzywojennego" [The Legionnaries and the Others. The collective memory of the First World Veterans in interwar Poland and Czechoslovakia] (Kraków 2017). Treasurer of the Polish Oral History Association. 

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen

Director, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen is an oral historian and cultural anthropologist currently serving in the roles of the director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies and Huculak Chair in Ukrainian Culture and Ethnography, both in the Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta, Canada. Her research interests include oral history, vernacular culture, diasporic and ethnic identities, labor migration, and immigrant letter writing. She authored or (co)edited the following books monographs, "Ukrainian Otherlands: Diaspora, Homeland and Folk Imagination in the 20th Century (U of Wisconsin Press, 2015); "The other world, or ethnicity in action: Canadian Ukrainianness at the end of the 20th century" (Smoloskyp Press, 2011); "Orality and Literacy: Reflections Across Disciplines" (U of Toronto Press, 2011) and "Reclaiming the Personal: Oral History in Post-Socialist Europe" (U of Toronto Press, 2015). Dr. Khanenko-Friesen is the founding editor of Canada's scholarly journal Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching and Learning. Her current book project has the working title “Decollectivized: The Last Generation of Soviet Farmers Speak Out." Since February 24, 2022, she coordinates a number of scholarly initiatives focusing on war testimony research, including hosting the summer oral history institute "Witnessing the War in Ukraine," Krakow, Poland.

Andriy Kohut

Director, Sectoral State Archive of the Ukrainian Security Service

Dr. Andriy Kohut is a Director of the Sectoral State Archive of the Ukrainian Security Service. The Archive stores the largest collection of declassified KGB files. He received his Ph.D. in History from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, and his M.A. in History from Ivan Franko Lviv National University. He had to suspend his 2021-2022 Fulbright Fellowship at Stanford University. His academic and professional interests cover various topics related to Soviet deportations, communist secret services history, memory politics, and cultural diplomacy.

Krzysztof Krzyżanowski

Filmmaker, Film Agency HAF

Krzysztof Krzyżanowski is an independent filmmaker, Film Agency HAF. He graduated in history at the Jagiellonian University, later held various jobs at TVP for more than 35 years: sound engineer, cameraman, editing director, and reporter. He was also an editor, publicist and publisher of the regional program of TVP Krakow. Krzysztof is the author of more than 300 reportages and documentaries on social, historical, ethnographic topics, as well as programs dealing with multiculturalism and ethnic minority issues. He edited and was the author of the TVP series: “At Home”, “Ethnic Climates”, as well as programs about Poland’s eastern neighbors − Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania: “Neighbors”, “Eastern Magazine”, “Borderlands Talks”, “Magazine from Poland and Ukraine”. Winner of many film awards. From 1986 to 2013, he gave lectures and classes on the language of film and film forms at the Stage Design Studio of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, as well as film and television workshops at the Cracow Journalism School PRESS.

Grażyna Kubica-Heller

Professor, Jagiellonian University

Grażyna Kubica-Heller is a Professor of Social Science in the Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow. One of her research areas is the history of social anthropology. She coedited the volume Malinowski - Between Two Worlds (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988). She authored the introduction and annotations of the full version of Malinowski's diaries in their original language (2002). Kubica has recently published an anthropological biography of another Polish-British anthropologist: Maria Czaplicka: Gender, Shamanism, Race (Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology Series, Univ. of Nebraska Press 2020). At present, she is carrying out a project "'Written with the other hand' - literary ethnographic writing and its Polish specificity". Another research area is connected with her fieldwork, historical research and autoethnography in Polish Teschen Silesia, her home region. Her last book is in German (written with Ulrich Kasten): Das „Männerlager“ im Frauen-KZ Ravensbrück, sowie Lagerbriefe und die Biografie des Häftlings Janek Błaszczyk (Furstenberg 2021). She teaches biographical method and oral history and has been also involved in women's oral history projects in Ukraine and Teschen Silesia, and co-authored documentary films: "Railway Station Krasne-Busk. Stories of resettled women," 2012; “Lives in the Shadow of a Border,” 2016, 2017.

Johanna Lindbladh

Associate Professor, Lund University

Johanna Lindbladh is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages at Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University, Sweden. Her current research interests include contemporary literature and witness art (literature, theatre, film) in Eastern Europe, trauma studies, post-socialist memory processes, critical theory and narrative hermeneutics. She has completed a research project financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) on the memory of Chornobyl in Soviet and post-Soviet literature and cinema. Her current publications include “Näher am Trauma: Aleksievics ‘letzte Zeugen’ im Vergleich” (2018) and “The Polyphonic Performance of Testimony in Svetlana Aleksievich’s Voices from Utopia” (2017). She is the editor of The Poetics of Memory in Post-Totalitarian Narration (2008) and co-editor of Witnessing in Art: Documentary Literature, Film and Theatre in Eastern Europe and the Baltics (Vienna: CEU Press, forthcoming, 2024). She has developed courses in Ukrainian literature, film and drama (Lund university), organized and moderated literary evenings on Ukrainian witness art (Lund Literary Society) and has published more than 20 reviews and articles relating to culture, literature, film and theatre in Swedish nationwide newspapers.


Józef Markiewicz

Senior Oral History Specialist, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Józef Markiewicz is an anthropologist and museologist, currently works as a Senior Oral History Specialist at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, where he supervises the implementation of research projects documenting the fate of Polish Jews from an individual perspective. A graduate of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Warsaw, he also studied at the Department of Ukrainian Philology at the University of Warsaw; has experience in ethnographic field research in the Lviv region and the Polish-Ukrainian borderland (transnational labor migrations in the context of national-state identity discourse; economic, cultural, and symbolic aspects of the Polish-Ukrainian border, social memory). Participant and coordinator of research projects based on oral history method on Eastern borderlands of European Union: Ukraine, Moldova, Russian Federation (e. g “White Karelian remembrance about postwar climate changes”, “Jewish and Roma memory of Transnistria”). Currently he is coordinating a visual ethnography project, documenting the last direct witnesses of the Warsaw Ghetto. Starting from May 2022, he is overseeing the development of the conceptual and documentary work of an oral history project based on personal narratives of Jewish refugees from Ukraine, as well aid-providers in Poland within POLIN Museum oral history program.

Eleonora Narvselius

Associate Professor, Lund University

Eleonora Narvselius is anthropologist from Lund University, Sweden. Her research interests comprise Ukrainian memory culture, narrative analysis, ethnicity, and nationalism. In the course of her academic career, she has participated in several international research projects focusing on urban environment, memory cultures and cultural heritage of East-Central European borderlands. Among her core publications is Ukrainian Intelligentsia in Post-Soviet L’viv: Narratives, Identity and Power (Lexington Books, 2012).

Mikael Nydahl

Literary translator, publisher and founder of Ariel förlag, Sweden

Mikael Nydahl, literary translator, publisher and founder of Ariel förlag, Sweden, 2020–2021 teacher in literary translation from Russian at HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design at the University of Gothenburg. Interested in translation and publication as forms of activism and practical solidarity. Co-editor and co-translator of the literary anthologies ”Ett år i Belarus. Röster inifrån en folkresning” (”One Year in Belarus. Voices from the Inside of an Uprising”, Atlas förlag), published in August 2021 and ”Under Ukrainas öppna himmel. Röster ur ett krig” (”Under the Open Sky of Ukraine. Voices from a War”, Ariel förlag) in August 2022. Co-initiator of the project ”Ukraina berättar” (”Ukraine Speaks”), running since the summer of 2022, a combined residency and translations programme, offering Ukrainian playwrights residencies at Rikstolvan in the south of Sweden and commissioning translations of contemporary Ukrainian drama into Swedish.

Ielizaveta Oliinyk

PhD student, Mozarteum University and University of Salzburg

Ielizaveta Oliinyk is a PhD student at the doctoral college of the Mozarteum University and University of Salzburg. She has studied journalism and theatre studies in Ukraine and Germany and worked as a journalist for Ukrainian media outlets and in the non-profit sector. She has worked as an intern at German theaters. In Ukraine, she has directed documentary theatre productions, some of which involved collaboration with internally displaced people and a soldier who served as a paramedic in the war zone in Eastern Ukraine. She has also directed several cinema projects. Research areas of interest: documentary theater, documentary theater and cultural trauma, avantgarde theater. Her latest publications are: Politische Krisen und Transformationen des Dokumentartheaters in Zeiten des Umbruchs in Martina Fladerer / Gwendolin Lehnerer (Ed.): Welten im Wandel. Jenseits von Wissenschaften & Künsten” (2022) and in co-authorship with Molly Flynn “Ukrainian documentary theater in the context of war” (to be published soon; editors: Johanna Lindbladh and Anja Tippner).

Natalia Otrishchenko

Research fellow, Center for Urban History

Natalia Otrishchenko is a sociologist and research fellow at the Center for Urban History in Lviv. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology with a focus on methodology and methods of sociological research from the Institute of Sociology at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. In 2019-22, Natalia was an associated researcher at the Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam; in 2022-23, she was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Department of Sociology, Columbia University. Since March 2022, she has led the Ukrainian team within the "24/02/22, 5 am" documentation initiative. Her research interests include qualitative methods, oral history, memory studies, urban sociology, and sociology of expertise.

Yevheniia Podobna

Journalist, documentarian, writer and scholar

Yevheniia Podobna is Ukrainian journalist, documentarian, writer and scholar, Candidate of Sciences in Social Communications, chief editor of the Public Broadcast Company of Ukraine documentary group, lecturer at the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University. In addition to journalistic work, in different years she worked on collecting memories of prisoners of Nazi concentration camps (Auschwitz and Dachau, 2012), witnesses of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and resettled residents of the exclusion zone (2016-2018, 2021). Since 2014, she has been working with the topic of the war in Ukraine, from 2015 to 2018 – with war correspondent on the front line. Since 2019, she has been working in military documentaries and journalism. Yevheniia Podobna is the author of four books and 8 documentaries. Books: "Girls Cut Braids" (2018, a collection of stories of military women), "Fierce February 2022" (a collection of testimonies about the first days of the full-scale invasion), "Cities of the Living, Cities of the Dead" (2022, stories and reports from the war in Bucha and Irpin). After the full-scale invasion, she focuses on recording stories, memories and testimonies, works on memorial website-archive of the war in Bucha and Irpin and book of stories about the war experience of Ukrainian women. During 2023, she shot two documentaries: "Visible Enemy" (memoirs of the Russian occupation of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone) and "Hostomel. The first battle" (about the failure of the assault on the Antonov airfield in Gostomel on February 24, 2022, which broke the Russian plan to attack Kyiv).

Iryna Tsilyk

Filmmaker and writer

Iryna Tsilyk is a Ukrainian filmmaker and writer, based in Kyiv. She is the director of the award-winning documentary film The Earth Is Blue As an Orange, which won the “Directing Award” at the Sundance Film Festival 2020, as well as numerous other honors. Also, Tsilyk is known for her fiction film Rock. Paper. Grenade based on the novel Who Are You? by Ukrainian writer, and Iryna’s husband, Artem Chekh. Moreover, Iryna Tsilyk is the author of 8 books (poetry, prose, children’s books) published in Ukraine. Many of her poems, short stories and essays have been translated into multiple languages and presented in different international publications, literary festivals and events. Over the years of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Iryna has taken part in various literary readings, documentary shootings, tutoring for children, etc. in the war zone. Iryna’s recent writing and films mostly reflect on different angles of these experiences. 

Natalia Vorozhbyt

Dramatist, screenwriter and director

Natalia Vorozhbyt is Ukrainian dramatist, screenwriter and director. She is co-founder of the Topical Play Week and the Theatre of the Displaced in Kyiv, co-author of the Maidan Diaries documentary, supervisor of the Class Act: East-West – social and theatre project, etc. Most of these projects involve interaction with the people who have been going though the war in the East of Ukraine. Natalia is an author of about two dozen plays which have been staged all over the world. She is author of the script for the film “Cyborgs” (2017), director of the film “Bad Roads” (2020). Holder of the national Shevchenko award (2022) for the play “Bad Roads”, and the Dovzhenko national award for contribution to the art of cinema (2021).

Anna Wylegała

Assistant Professor, Polish Academy of Sciences

Anna Wylegała is Ph.D. in sociology, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (Poland). She is a leader of the project "24/02/22, 5 am" in Poland. Recent publications: "Entangled Bystanders: Multidimensional Trauma of Ethnic Cleansing and Mass Violence in Eastern Galicia", in: Kivimäki V., Leese P. (eds), Trauma, Experience and Narrative in Europe after World War II (2022), Był dwór, nie ma dworu. Reforma rolna w Polsce (2021), "The Void Communities: Towards a New Approach to the Early Post-war in Poland and Ukraine", East European Politics and Societies 35, no. 2: 407–36. Academic interests include biographical and collective memory, oral history methodology, Holocaust studies, Ukrainian studies. 



Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, Canada
Dobra Wola Foundation, Poland
Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Poland
Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Warsaw, Poland
Lund University, Sweden
Polish Oral History Association, Poland
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Sweden
Ukrainian Oral History Association, Ukraine
Registration is closed
Already Registered?