Documenting Dreams of War

Documenting Dreams of War

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онлайн / zoom

The idea of the seminar builds ona documentation initiative launched by the Center for Urban History to gather diaries and dreams of war in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Focusing on diaries and dreams was a way to emphasize the importance of documenting individual feelings in the context of a collective experience. By means of collecting dream records in tandem with testimonies, images, and social media channels, we aim to create an archive of sources for research and reflection on the war, with an eye on scholarly researchers as well as artists.

The collection of diaries and dreams consists of diverse narratives and non-narrative productions, such as digitally and non-digitally recorded war journals, photographs, drawings, short videos, and voice and musical recordings. Dreams constitute a conspicuous part of the archive – recorded, retold, imagined, or visualized. For researchers in humanities, dreams are important because they function as a reflection of real life, they include conscious experience in dreams. Instead of simply recreating life, dreams are displayed as fragments of memory fragments. The value of dreams is that, like diaries, interviews, audio recordings, video testimonies, movies, or books, they are the source of history unfolding before our eyes.

The proposed seminar will be the first meeting in a series of talks, workshops, and seminars. It will focus on dreams as a source for various disciplines, particularly exploring its possibilities as an egodocument. Furthermore, the seminar will explore how these sources define scholarly focuses or the other way around - how our research questions and approaches make some sources more visible.

We will relate to current assumptions that dreams enhance memories, process emotions, express our deepest desires, or gain practice confronting potential dangers, but also ask if and how dreaming (or recording dreams) can serve as a historical source and an epistemological tool.

The seminar aims to bring together scholars and practitioners from different spheres – Anthropology, History, Literature, and Psychotherapy – to place the documenting initiative in Ukraine within a broader methodological discussion on how dreams can be analyzed and worked with, especially in the context of war, statelessness, oppression, and extreme violence. During the seminar in May, we will discuss continuing documentation (archiving and collecting of new sources) and designing fieldwork in Ukraine.

As an outcome, we would like to conduct a series of online academic seminars from late May to October 2023, presenting different perspectives on working with dreams as a source.

Organizing Team:

  • Dr. Bohdan Shumylovych (Center for Urban History), curator
  • Maryana Mazurak, Yelezaveta Bobrova, communication
  • Sofia Andrusyshyn, Oleksandr Dmytriev, Oleksandr Korman, Viktoria Panas, organizational support

Partnering institutions:

  • Center for Urban History (Lviv, Ukraine)
  • Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, the University of Jyväskylä (Jyväskylä, Finland)
  • The Harriman Institute, The Institute of Ideas and Imagination, The Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies (Columbia University, New York and Paris)
  • Primo Levi Center (Paris, France)
  • Center for Mental Health, UNBROKEN National Rehabilitation Center (Lviv, Ukraine)


Cover Image: Anastasiia Bodnaruk