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Dr. Tetiana Portnova

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin (DFG Eigene Stelle)



                        Am Neuen Palais 10
                        Haus 1, Raum 106
                        14469 Potsdam

                        Telefon: +49 331 977-4162        
                        Mail: Tetiana.Portnovauni-potsdamde

About the project

Research project Negotiating Anarchism, Violence and National Revolution: Representations of Ukrainian Warlords 1917-1921 in Literature and Film in comparative perspective funded by the DFG

DFG Own Position, term: 01.11.2023 - 31.10.2025 (Project number 524595545)

In the range of social movements and state projects that came into being or were revived after the February Revolution of 1917, the mass militarized peasant insurgency of Southern Ukraine has a particular role. This social movement referred to anarchist and socialist ideas and was headed by self-proclaimed warlords, so called otamans (a term going back to the early modern Cossack history and Turkish etymology).

The project focuses on complex and various strategies of representation of Ukrainian warlordism in literature, film, and popular culture from 1921 until today. The project has a transnational dimension as it includes a close-reading, viewing and discussing of sources, which belong to Ukrainian, Russian, Jewish, and Mennonite literary traditions, and also mentions about Ukrainian warlords in French, Polish, and British literary texts. The project aims at a systematic analysis of images and narratives about the peasant insurgency in Ukraine in various cultural contexts. It is striking how competing and mutually exclusive these representations partially have been: ranging from the “people next to devil”, immoral sadists and an embodiment of primitive instincts, to seekers of social justice and glorious fighters for their land – depending on time and perspective.

The research project is located on the crossroads of cultural history and cultural studies, including literary and film studies. It needs also a historical contextualization: how a historical phenomenon has been re-thought and re-contextualized in diverse cultural and political contexts over the decades.


About the person

Tetiana Portnova is a historian specializing in intellectual history, urban history of Eastern Europe and museology. Since November 2023, Portnova has been working as a research associate at the University of Potsdam (DFG position). Earlier she was the Research Fellow of the Volkswagen Foundation (Mai 2022 - April 2023) and the Research Fellow of the University of Potsdam (Mai 2023 – October 2023) at the Chair of Slavic Literature and Cultural Studies/Focus on Polish Studies (Uni Potsdam).

She holds her Ph.D degree in history (2009) and M.A. (2004) from Dnipro National University. In 2012-2021 Portnova was an Associate Professor at the Chair of Historiography, Source and Archival Studies of the Dnipro National University. Since 2021 she has been working as Senior Research Fellow at the Dmytro Yavornytsky Dnipro National History Museum. She held fellowships of Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Portnova’s articles were published in «Osteuropa», «Nowa Europa Wschodnia» and other journals.
Tetiana Portnova is the author of two books (in Ukrainian): “The City Landscape and Modernisation: Katerynoslav in mid 19th – early 20th Centuries” (2008) and “Peasantry in Ukrainian Intelligentsia’s Perception of the second half of the 19th Century” (2016).

Research interests: Urban history of Eastern and Central Europe; Intellectual history; History of the Ukrainian peasant anarchism 1918-1923 and its cultural images; Museology.