Labor, Exhaustion and Success: Company Towns in the Donbas

Labor, Exhaustion and Success: Company Towns in the Donbas

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8.11.2022, 19:30 Kyiv Time

George Washington University, Washington, D.C

We are happy to invite to the exhibition "Labor, Exhaustion and Success: Company Towns in the Donbas," organized by the Center for Urban History, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, George Washington University.

The bare steppe of the Donbas set the scene for one of the most ambitious industrial projects in Europe, one that brought together imperial officials, businessmen, investors, experts and future workers in the late nineteenth century. News about the rich iron and coal deposits attracted people from various parts of the Russian Empire and Europe.

Most cities located in the Donbas, such as Donetsk, Luhansk, Kramatorsk, Alchevsk, Horlivka, and Yenakiieve began as company towns. Over the Soviet period they developed into large and medium-sized cities constituting a dense urban network. In spite of all the changes in the twentieth century, some things remained constant: the companies maintained their influence and control, and industrial production, labor, state policies and all aspects of daily life remained closely interlinked. Our exhibition looks at these connections over the course of one hundred-plus years, and asks how companies have influenced and shaped the social and economic conditions, the natural and urban environment, culture and everyday life in the Donbas region.

This project was implemented in the context of the current Russian aggression and war in Ukraine. Policymakers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and people in the Donbas and beyond are facing the challenge of identifying the political, economic, human and cultural resources that are needed to overcome conflicts, and to deal with problems, both old and new. With this exhibition we aim to contribute to a more complex and critical public understanding of one of the oldest industrial regions in contemporary Ukraine and Europe.


  • Center for Urban History in Lviv
  • Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton
  • George Washington University

Authors: Volodymyr Kulikov and Iryna Sklokina

Design: Viktoria Fedynets, Andriy Linik, Iryna Tsimerman

Editing: Victoria Donovan

Illustrations kindly provided by: Art Museum in Horlivka, Art Museum in Donetsk, The H. Pshenychnyi Central State CinePhotoPhono Archives of Ukraine, Kramatorsk Historical Museum, Yenakiievo Ironworks Museum of History, Stakhanov City Museum for History and Arts, photographers George Ivanchenko, Dmytro Kozatskyi, Yevhen Nikiforov

In thanks for exhibit preparation: Oleksii Chebotariov, Sofia Dyak, Iryna Matsevko, Dóra Mérai, and Marlene Laruelle

Financial support for the project provided by Ihor Liski

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