PD Dr. Matthias Stadelmann

Curriculum Vitae

Matthias Stadelmann has been a lecturer in Eastern European and Modern History at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg since 2010. From April 2013 to August 2014 he held a visiting chair of Central and Eastern European History at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and prior to that worked as an research associate and research assistant in Erlangen. He completed his habilitation in 2010 with a dissertation titled “Archduke Konstantin Nikolayevich: The Factor of Personality and the Culture of Change in the Russian Autocracy” and his doctorate in 2001 with a dissertation titled “Isaak Dunayevskii in the Musical Life of the Soviet Union: Structural Background and Individual Experience in a Career under Stalinist Dictatorship.”

Research Project at the Kolleg

Nation, History, Socialism: The Cultural Construction of the Ukraine after the Second World War

While the media attention that inundated Ukraine in 2013–14 has begun to abate, the problems it faces are anything but resolved. Again and again one hears about the country’s heterogeneity, especially about its purported, historically warranted ‘division’ in two parts orientated respectively to the east and the west. There is, however, no question that the territories of the Ukraine, whose modern statehood only became a reality after the Bolshevik revolution, have been shaped by very different, often competing influences, events, and vectors of development, and that in the twentieth century a Ukrainian state emerged, conceived first as a Ukrainian Soviet Republic in the centralised framework of the USSR, then upheld as an independent state following a 1991 vote by the great majority of its populace, and that ever since, as an administratively unified state (with the exception of Crimea, which had the status of an autonomous republic), it has been viewed by historians and political scientists as one of the most successful states of the former Soviet Union. In early 2013 hardly anyone could have predicted the development in 2014 of secessionist movements in individual regions of the Ukrainian state. If one neglects to subscribe to the remarkably one-dimensional thesis that all bad things in the Ukraine have their source in Russian ill will, then one must ask why, after nearly one hundred years of existence – or over fifty years, if one considers only the territorial dispensation prior to independence in 1991 – Ukrainian statehood is threatened with dissolution now, by the exigencies of the twenty-first century.

In this context, my research project inquires into the constitutive cultural foundations of modern and contemporary Ukraine. It takes as its points of departure both an understanding of ‘Ukraine’ not as an a priori stable entity but as a political construction founded on ethno-national, historical, and current political rationales, and the thesis that the course by which Ukrainian geographic and sociopolitical identities have developed was set during the Soviet period. The main point of inquiry is which principles involved in constructing a Ukrainian polity after the war were implemented and emphasised and how. In this the project avails itself of three mental frameworks – the Nation, History, and Socialism – for organising and interpreting, by way of synthesis, contrast, and interplay, the specific problematic of Ukraine in the twentieth century and beyond. Further, the project will engage the relationship between Ukraine’s self-understanding as developed in the twentieth century and its development after 2013.

Main areas of research

  • History of Ukraine in the twentieth century
  • Russian empire in the nineteenth century
  • History of the Romanovs
  • Cultural history of Stalinism
  • Personality in history
  • Historiographic approaches to music, musicians, and musical culture