The term Ukraine’s Historical Encounters was coined in 1998, when Columbia University’s Harriman Institute used it to title a “breakthrough” two day symposium that was tasked with exploring the long and troubled relations between Ukraine and its always imposing northern neighbor, Russia. A long and distinguished line of academics did precisely what was asked of them; they delved into the past, present and future to examine “the ties that bind, often too tightly”. The end result of the endeavor was a well received monograph, containing the forum’s highlight presentations, bearing the same appellation.
The term resurfaced as a title in 2003, when NYU’s Center for Global Affairs ran a one day conference, in conjunction with CUSUR’s predecessor—UCIS, which reassembled a number of the speaking participants of Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable II: Taking Measure of a U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership [Nov 2001] and asked the gathering to update their assessment of relations between Ukraine and the world’s “remaining superpower”. The forum’s frank discussions included a very serious give and take on the prevailing issue of common concern at the time: the War on Terror.
In 2004, the two Universities [CU’s East Central European Center added its weight to the project at this juncture], through the good offices of UCIS, decided to combine their efforts under the stated moniker and launch a set of forums that would explore Ukraine’s “past, present and future” ties with its various neighbors [both countries and regional associations].
The Ukraine’s Historical Encounters Series has now held six such major events:
- UA Historical Encounters Forum I: Polish-Ukrainian Relations
- UA Historical Encounters Forum II: Ukraine-Visegrad Relations
- UA Historical Encounters Forum III: GUAM/Black and Caspian Sea Cooperation
- UA Historical Encounters Forum IV: Weimar Triangle-Ukraine
- UA Historical Encounters Forum V: Ukraine-BSEC
- UA Historical Encounters Forum VI: Ukraine-Caucasus-Central Asia
In addition, CUSUR has sponsored several special UA HES symposia dedicated to Ukraine’s encounters with its own history:
- UA HES SE (2011): The People’s War/National Liberation Struggles in E. Ukraine (1917-1933)
- UA HES SE (2012): Undaunted/The Legacy of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (1942-1950)
- UA HES SE (4/2013): Assessing Ukraine’s Post-Totalitanian Experience
- UA HES SE (10/2013): Holodomor: Taking Measure of the Ukrainian Famine Genocide 1932-1933
- UA HES SE (2015): Contested Ground: The Legacy of WW2 in Eastern Europe
2016 witnessed the running of another special gathering entitled UA HES SE: Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Modern State.
During 2017, the HES Series intends to run two gatherings—a special events conference entitled UA HES SE: Ukraine’s Century of Struggle for Independence in December and a regular ‘encounter’ forum entitled: UA Historical Encounters Forum VII: Lithuania-Poland-Ukraine at a time to be announced.