Ukrainian village of the late imperial period: research of phenomenon by means of vizualization


Yuriy Prysyazhnyuk
Yaroslav Platmir


Introduction. In the late imperial period (end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries), the Ukrainian peasantry of the Naddnipryanshchyna and its life were represented by the rural regimen. The villages remained the islands of the traditional world, which coexisted with rather turbulent urbanization processes that took place synchronously. According to their basic characteristics, these two worlds represented different historical epochs, but they could no more coexist autonomously. It was at the beginning of the twentieth century that the village was more and more often featured by such a technical device as a camera. A lot of ordinary residents got into the lenses among other objects. Analysis of their appearance allows us to significantly expand our knowledge of the Ukrainian village of the late imperial period by the very means of visualization.

Purpose. The purpose of research is to find out the changes in the ideas of the Naddnipryanshchyna intellectuals about the traditional Ukrainian village, which became possible due to visualization means, in particular the use of such a unique source as a photograph.

Methods. Adhering to the tradition formed in world historiography, the authors interpret visual images not as an illustration to the content of the written source, but as a special type of text that requires deciphering within the discourse in which it originated. That is, it refers to self-contained structures that are considered as self-sufficient sign systems.

Results. Involving the points and findings of humanities scholars, the authors focus on the photographs, peasants shown in them, try to accomplish a number of cognitive operations aimed at identifying existing images, their specific socio-cultural characteristics. At the same time, the analysis of visual images is interpreted as a reflection of social practices of peasants and, consequently, mental activity of intellectuals. To optimize the research, recent theoretical and methodological developments of Ukrainian historians were used.

Originality. The authors found that the processes of modernization of the Ukrainian village took place in a much more complicated historical trajectory than previously considered. The main complexity and simultaneously the dynamics of changes should be seen in the more flexible socio-cultural practices of peasants as objects and, at the same time, actors of the proposed interaction of subcultures.

Conclusion. Profound research in the context of studying the private cultural space of peasants, their leisure, appearance and functioning of the new organizations that engaged in the previously unknown case of taking care of the «lower» population stratas at the beginning of the 20th century, is considered as promising one.




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