Once Upon a Time in Ukraine

Tales of Full-Scale Resistance

Once upon a time, some people warned of a massacre awaiting a nation at the hands of a powerful foe. A sacrificial pyre was prepared, but the nation confronted the enemy instead. Eighteen months into the all-out war, the curse of disbelief in the Ukrainians’ ability to fight off Russia’s genocidal onslaught still hangs over the battlefield. The habits of faith and distrust are rooted in the tales we are enchanted by, in the narrative traps we wilfully fall into. If we have no faith in a sly kid outwitting a monster, we have been listening to the wrong kind of stories.

Sasha Dovzhyk read from her creative nonfiction collection Once Upon a Time in Ukraine: Tales of Full-Scale Resistance (in progress) and spoke about the role of storytelling amidst the all-out war. Working with the testimonies collected by the author in Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion, the collection is informed by rich literary and folk traditions feeding Ukraine’s will to fight. 

The lecture was followed by a commentary by Katherine Younger, IWM Permanent Fellow, who also moderated questions from the audience.

Sasha Dovzhyk, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies / Ukrainian Institute London and currently IWM Fellow.