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Viktoriya Trostohon, Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University

 Imagining Scandinavia in Ukraine

  • Name: Viktoriya Trostohon
  • Academic credentials: World Literature and Theory of Literature, Graduate student, Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University

Abstract: Ukraine has been an independent country for 16 years now and thence developed quite solid expertise in various fields of academic research, many of those having a substantial basis as the legacy of Soviet era. Nonetheless, Scandinavian studies comprise a lacuna on the level of Ukrainian tertiary education. 

In my presentation I intend to discuss several ways in which Scandinavia is known/ made familiar to Ukrainian “consumer” and various, yet scattered initiatives that help shaping the way Northern countries emerge in the minds of my fellow-citizens. 
First of all, fiction translations both lingering from the Soviet times (and the erstwhile censorship left a rather peculiar selection in the home libraries of intelligentsia), and the ones appearing since the ’90s (which is always a translator’s trafficking of cultural context and mentality according to his/her individual taste). 

Secondly, language instruction (I will concentrate on Swedish and Norwegian here) offered as a qualification by only (!) two universities in Ukraine: Taras Shevchenko Kyiv University and Ivan Franko Lviv University. Kyiv National Linguistic University used to have programs in Swedish and Norwegian studies, yet they lasted for approximately three years. While it is great that such tutoring is provided at least by those two, language study also requires knowledge of culture, literature and history, and is often carried out by the same instructor (at Taras Shevchenko, and so was the case of KNLU), who has a qualification of being a linguist and is incapable of interesting young students in pursuing Scandinavian studies as their future passion and job in academia. Situation is much better at Lviv university, still it is not the field yet which could invite a solid research in different areas related to Scandinavian countries. 

Thirdly, I will talk about two enthusiastic and ambitions initiatives carried out mainly by the former exchange students who have studied in one of the Nordic countries. These are SprĂĄkcafe i Kiev (since 2012) – originally a language learners’ club that turned into a bigger organization uniting people with interest in Sweden and everything connected with it; at each meeting there is always one or two native speakers and carriers of the ”Swedishness” for us to inhale; Ukrainian-Scandinavian Center (since 2013) which is the first know attempt to build a foundation for adequate representation of Scandinavian countries and unite different existing as well as emerging initiatives, spread the knowledge of the region in Ukraine and create conducive environment (demand) for the Studies on the academic level in the long-term perspective. 

These are three key factors that create an image of Scandinavia in Ukraine, and you will get a good laugh or even a chill learning what people from different backgrounds and age groups still know and think of Scandinavia.

Theme: Scandinavia in the Eyes of the World