GHS/RHS Fellowship provides new focus for Ukrainian historian fleeing war

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Dr Natalia Gromakova has joined the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Polish-Lithuanian Studies as part of the ‘Scholars at Risk’ Fellowship programme for Ukraine, sponsored by the German History Society in collaboration with the Royal Historical Society.

Dr Gromakova specialises in the social and associational life of minorities, including Polish and German speakers in the nineteenth-century Ukrainian lands occupied by Austria and Russia after the Third Partition of Poland in 1795 up to the First World War.

She fled her home in Bucha, around 20km north-west of Kyiv, with her daughter on March 11. The commuter town had become a key battleground as the Russian onslaught towards the capital began, with many civilians losing their lives in the brutal assault and occupation which followed.

Dr Gromakova had been working at the National Pedagogical University in Kyiv as a postdoctoral researcher. She and daughter Olena were able to evacuate the town, which had been under relentless shelling since the outbreak of war, but her husband remained behind to support those defending the country.

Dr Gromakova said: “I was delighted to be selected and to have the opportunity to come to Aberdeen. It has long been a dream of mine to study and work in Scotland, although the circumstances are not those I’d have chosen.

“I have enjoyed great support from the University, and I think the facilities here will really help me to advance my research. Additionally, collaboration with the German History Society provides an opportunity to expand my research perspective to clarify the features of intercultural communication in the context of nation-building during the 19th century.”

“I am looking forward to the time I will be able to return home, but this is a very good opportunity for me to develop my academic research within a Centre where my focus on the history of western Ukraine complements the work of other Aberdeen academics.”

Professors Robert Frost and Karin Friedrich said: “We are delighted to welcome Natalia to Aberdeen so that she can continue her research work in safety. She will be an asset to the work of the Centre and is already preparing a paper for a future seminar series.”