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Fellow seminar: Define the Distinction: Natural History and Society in the Polish Provinces of the Russian Empire, 1790s-1840s

June 10 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
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Dr. Tetiana Onofriichuk (Gerda Henkel Fellow, Feb ‘20 – Jul ‘21) will present her research under the topic:

Define the Distinction: Natural History and Society in the Polish Provinces of the Russian Empire, 1790s-1840s

on 10 June, 2021 (Thursday) at 16:30 h.



The Volhynian and Podolian provinces belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth since the early modern times, until they were designated as ‘Western governorates’ of the Russian empire following the partitions of Poland in late 18th century. Yet, notwithstanding these geographic and political fluctuations, the local landed nobility continued to tie their identity to their historic rights and privileges in these lands, which they still envisioned as a unified historical and geographical entity, contrary to the forced, geometric reductions of the partitions.

Performing in the area where several imperial and national projects clashed in the 19th century, Volhynian and Podolian residents mastered the space of their provinces by defining and categorizing their natural resources, such as plants, types of soil, minerals, and climate conditions. And by doing so, they were adamant about claiming their cultural, ‘natural’ (botanical), and intellectual affinity for ‘Europe’. For this, they used the accomplishments of the French, German, and Swedish scientific thought of the 18th – early 19th century, available in scarce and constrained libraries of their provincial mansions and in several local academic establishments. Yet, they not only appropriated foreign knowledge but also, as in most peripheral regions, laid emphasis on knowledge reproduction and propagation of what they believed were novel findings.
In my presentation, I will aim to cover the following aspects:

  1. The importance of studies in botany, natural history, and geography for the residents of the Polish provinces after the partitions. Specifically, what approaches did the local practitioners of natural history take and what were their goals when they studied their provinces.
  2. Possible methodological benefits of the history of natural history practices in their interplay with the regional and the national for studying the geographically complex Eastern Europe and its cultural transformations in the 19th century.

Tetiana Onofriichuk studied at the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (Kyiv, Ukraine) and Central European University (Budapest, Hungary). She received a PhD in History and Civilization from the European University Institute (Florence, Italy) in 2017. Her thesis discussed the idea of Enlightenment and its many representations in the Western governorates of the Russian Empire. During 2018, she has been a postdoc researcher at the Gotha Research Center of the University of Erfurt and at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (Paris, FR). Since then, she has been working as a teaching assistant at the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla academy” and at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine.

Date: June 10
Time: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Venue Name: Zoom Platform
Organizer Name: Centre for Advanced Study Sofia