Researching the Collecting, Preserving, Analyzing, and Disclosing of Ukrainian War Testimonies
The Russian war against Ukraine, which before was labeled with different words and abbreviations, started in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and armed conflict in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. During the eight years, more than 1.4 million people have been registered on Ukrainian government-controlled territories as internally displaced people. In 2022, Russian aggression became a full-scale invasion and was called "a war" – the whole country was affected by unprecedented terror, destruction, and mass migration. The lives of those who remained in their homes have been threatened. Millions of Ukrainian refugees crossed the borders of neighboring countries and moved all over the globe. Behind every number, there is a human story. Through personal testimonies, we can embrace the scale of the tragedy and comprehend the ability to survive and live through the war.
In 2024, the Center for Urban History's initiative "24.02.2022 5 am: Testimonies of War" initiative, which focused on documenting oral testimonies of the war, moves to a new phase – we plan to conduct a second wave of interviewing and develop a digital environment for processing, preserving, and possible accessing the born-digital oral testimonies of the war. For this phase, the Center for Urban History collaborates with the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History in the "Researching the Collecting, Preserving, Analyzing, and Disclosing of Ukrainian Testimonies of the 2022 War (U-CORE)" project funded by NCN and FNR respectively.
U-CORE aims to create a digital environment for the transnational database of the testimonies from the war and contribute to a diverse and supportive memory culture in Ukraine. Through research, sociologists, and historians validate people’s experiences in collective memory and history writing. This project also aims to show the story of the war as one that has an international impact and shapes European societies. In addition, the project will produce (with the participation of witnesses) a documentary film, graphic novel, and other activities at the intersection of public history, science, and arts.
The "24.02.2022 5 am: Testimonies of the War" initiative started as an emergency documentation project aiming to collect the stories of people who were externally and internally displaced because of Russian aggression. In early March 2022, loosely affiliated researchers from Ukraine, Poland, Luxembourg, Germany, and the UK discussed the possibility of ethically well-grounded and methodologically reasonable emergency collecting and archiving oral testimonies of Ukrainian refugees, IDPs, and volunteers. These discussions resulted in documenting the wartime and refugee fate of Ukrainians in Ukraine, Poland, and Luxembourg.
Cover Image: Olha Klymuk / visual Documentation of War / Urban Media Archive of the Center for Urban History
Gallery: Ira Yeroshko