Between Kyiv and Vienna: Histories of people, ideas, and objects in circulation and motion

International Conference, Vienna, 5-8 December 2019
Public events:
Serhii Plokhii: Atomic Energy and the Arrogance of Man
6 December, 2019
IWM Library, Spittelauer Lände 3 1090 Vienna/Austria

On the morning on April 26, 1986, the world witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history — the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine. Dozens of people died of radiation poisoning. The fallout contaminated a half the continent, affecting thousands fell ill.

During his lecture, Serhii Plokhii reflects on new sources to lay bare the flaws of the Soviet nuclear industry, tracing the disaster to the authoritarian character of the rule of Communist party, the regime's control over scientific information, and its emphasis on economic development.

Plokhii claims that today the risk of another Chernobyl looms in the mismanagement of nuclear power in the developing world.

Free entry. Registration required at the link.
East West Street: A Song of Good & Evil
7 December, 2019
Muth - concert hall of the Vienna Boys' Choir Am Augartenspitz 1, 1020 Wien, Austria

A partly staged reading inspired by Philippe Sands, the international human rights lawyer and the author of the award-winning bestseller on the Nuremberg trials.

East West Street explores the origins of 'genocide' and 'crimes against humanity' and the path to justice. The Ratline, the book's sequel, is to be published in April 2020.
The performance focuses on the lives and ideas of three individuals from the trials: academic Hersch Lauterpacht, prosecutor Raphael Lemkin and Hitler's lawyer Hans Frank, and the music that connected men on opposite sides of the courtroom.

Following a world tour, East West Street: A Song of Good & Evil receives its Austrian premiere, narrated by award-winning German actress Katja Riemann and Philippe Sands, and directed by Nina Brazier.
Leading bass-baritone Laurent Naouri and renowned jazz pianist Guillaume de Chassy perform music including Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninov and Leonard Cohen.

Director: Nina Brazier
Screenplay: Philippe Sands
Narrator: Philippe Sands
Narrator: Katja Riemann
Bass Baritone: Laurent Naouri
Piano: Guillaume de Chassy

Tickets are available via link.
Humanity and Catastrophe: a Conversation of Philippe Sands and Serhii Plokhii
8 December, 2019
Cafe Book Shop Singer e.U., Rabensteig 3, 1010 Відень

In East West Street, Philippe Sands set out to understand the role law played in processing the horrors of the Holocaust by tracing the lives of three lawyers involved in the development of "genocide" and "crimes against humanity": two studied law in post-WWI and interwar Lemberg/Lwów/Lviv, and were Polish Jews, and the third was a defendant at Nuremberg who they prosecuted. Sands highlights the entanglement of personal biographies, political contexts, and intellectual genealogies and their echoes in the international response to Nazi crimes. The relationship between the individual and the group, and catastrophe, is also at the heart of Serhii Plokhii's Chernobyl, which elucidates the environmental and human consequences of a dual systems failure: political as well as scientific. He shows how individual scientists and bureaucrats worked within, perpetuated, and grappled with a fatally flawed Soviet institutional structure – and how the Chernobyl meltdown contributed to the demise of the Soviet system. Both books were awarded the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, in 2016 and 2018 respectively. The cultural year "Austria-Ukraine 2019" brings these two writers together to offer this bilateral format a broader framework and to expand on topics that are crucially relevant for both domestic and global discussions. In this conversation, the two authors reflect on the systemic and personal facets of large-scale disaster, the relationship between silence and memory, and lessons for humanity's future.
Serhii Plokhii is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. His book, Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy received the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, and the 2019 Pushkin House Prize. His latest book is Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front: An Untold Story of World War II (London: Penguin, 2019).

Philippe Sands is Professor of Law at University College London and a barrister at Matrix Chambers. East West Street won the 2016 Baillie Gifford Prize and the 2018 Prix Montaigne. His new book, The Ratline, will be published in April 2020.

Moderated by Sofia Dyak (Center for Urban History, Lviv) and
Katherine Younger (Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Vienna).

Free admission. Registration via link.

The Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna), Center for Urban History(Lviv), and the Ukrainian Institute (Kyiv) organise the international conference in Vienna on 5-8 December, 2019.
This multidisciplinary conference, which concludes the Cultural Year Austria- Ukraine 2019, seeks to explore the contemporary and historical dynamics that have shaped Austria, Ukraine, and the space between and around them, through the lens of circulation and motion.
Ukraine has been described as a "laboratory of transnational history," widening our perspectives on Ukrainian history by embedding Ukraine within a broader European space. This conference is intended to build on this notion, expanding our framework to encompass a region that once was governed by the Habsburg, Romanov, and Ottoman empires. By looking more broadly at a region that today is divided among nation states within and outside the borders of the EU – from Poland to Albania, from Italy to Turkey, from Russia to Romania, and indeed from Ukraine to Austria – we gain new insight into the crucial themes that have shaped the modern history of the region, of Europe, and of the world.
Recognizing the ever-changing, fluid, dynamic nature of the space under consideration, this conference focuses on motion, circulation, and interaction, whether across time or at a particular moment. We seek to provide a venue to look at people who moved within, out of, and into the region, interrogating the forces that drove them and the consequences of their movement; to examine the flow of ideas that were articulated and set in motion there and resonated in lived experience both within the region and beyond it; and to ask how the circulation of material objects, goods, and resources impacted societies and the environment, shaping relations and hierarchies between places and people.

We invite scholars to propose contributions that explore questions related to the concept of circulation and motion in the region broadly defined (for the purposes of this conference) as "between Kyiv and Vienna" by looking at thematics that include but are not limited to:

  • People: professionalization and criminalization of mobility: labor, services, legal frameworks, and technology; (in)visibility of movement and travel: hierarchies and representations, personal agency and encounters;
  • Ideas: knowledge, science, scholarship and the transnational and international flow of ideas; intellectual and cultural experiments: texts, artefacts, artworks, artists, production;
  • Objects: discovery, distribution, management and exploitation of goods, resources, and capital; living from and living with the environment: practices of recognition and use, environmental and technological advances and failures.
    For more details, including an expanded programmatic statement and further suggested themes, please see here.

    To Apply:
    Please submit your paper proposal, including title and abstract (max. 250 words), and a CV to by 5 August 2019.
    We encourage submissions from advanced graduate students and early-career academics as well as established scholars.

    Important Dates
    Proposal submission deadline: 5 August 2019
    Notification of acceptance: by 1 September 2019
    Paper submission deadline: 15 November 2019

    Practical Information
    The working language of the conference is English. Presenters are expected to submit a paper of 3000-4000 words by 15 November 2019. Conference organizers will cover travel costs and accommodations; most meals will also be provided.

    Advisory Board
    Olena Betlii (Kyiv-Mohyla Academy)
    Harald Binder (Center for Urban History)
    Alison Frank Johnson (Harvard University)
    Ambassador Olexander Scherba (Embassy of Ukraine in Vienna)
    Volodymyr Sheiko (Ukrainian Institute)
    Timothy Snyder (Yale University/IWM)
    Balázs Trencsényi (Central European University)

    Organizing Committee
    Sofia Dyak (Center for Urban History)
    Oleksandr Vynogradov (Ukrainian Institute)
    Katherine Younger (IWM)

    Lidiia Akryshora (IWM)
    Mariana Mazurak (Center for Urban History)