Rinat Akhmetov Foundation Announces Program for Forum of Oral History of Ukraine

The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, founded by international mining and metals enterprise Metinvest’s owner Rinat Akhmetov, established its oral history initiative, Museum of Civilian Voices, to document how the war in Ukraine has affected the everyday lives of the Ukrainian population. The program recently announced it will hold a forum to discuss how to best continue and how gathering civilian stories will affect the historical perception of the war.

Scheduled for Oct. 10 in Kyiv, the Forum of Oral History of Ukraine will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, ranging from academics and public historians to museum curators and documentarians, both from Ukraine and the international community. The forum aims to delve into the complicated process of recording the war’s impact on civilians amid ongoing violence throughout the country.

The Forum of Oral History Ukraine

The gathering will feature three panel discussions. The first, “When Experiences Become Knowledge,” will be chaired by Natalia Kryvda, a scholar at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, where she studies cultural history and memory. This forum will explore the intricate process by which firsthand accounts of war are converted into a body of public knowledge and memory. It will also address the hurdles encountered in handling documentary evidence and the role various institutions play in shaping war narratives.

In the second panel, “Oral History: Tasks, Roles, and Problematique,” journalist Yulia Manukyan, co-founder of the Urban Republic civil society organization, will lead an examination of the challenges and ethical considerations in documenting wartime experiences, as well as how the Ukrainian example can inform global practices in oral history. Manukyan is also editor of the cultural publication СОYС and winner of the 2023 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize.

The third seminar, “Documentation of War Experiences and the Future,” will be moderated by Anastasia Platonova, a cultural critic and former editor at Forbes Ukraine. This panel will discuss the geopolitical implications of documenting the Ukrainian conflict, including its role in international advocacy and future justice initiatives.

Attendance is free but prospective participants must register in advance and await confirmation from the organizers. The event is organized by the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation in collaboration with the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland.

The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation

The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation has become a leading contributor to the project of documenting a civilian oral history of the war. It’s amassed over 85,000 firsthand accounts over the past five years, and is part of a broader philanthropic effort meant to support both Ukrainian civilians and the military in the face of Russia’s invasion.

“Until lasting peace comes to our land, we will leave no one in need. We have been helping, and will continue to help, as long as our help is needed,” says Akhmetov on the foundation’s website.

Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest person, has seen his personal wealth significantly reduced as a result of Russia’s invasion, but he’s also donated over $150 million in goods and services to the Ukrainian army, as well as millions more to civilian causes including youth mental health and injury recovery and support for soldiers’ families in regions in which fighting is especially intense.

Documenting Ukrainians’ struggle remains an important part of the foundation’s work, with the forum taking place shortly after the recent conclusion of a three-day event held in partnership with the International School of Communications: “How to Collect War Stories.” This event, too, was orchestrated by the Museum of Civilian Voices in collaboration with Taras Shevchenko National University of Kviv and Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin.

These initiatives serve as a repository for future generations, offering a nuanced understanding of the conflict that goes beyond headlines or statistics. They have the potential to inform transitional justice mechanisms, contribute to reconciliation processes, and facilitate the healing of war-torn communities.

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