Three international scholars who were recipients of an Ada Booth Research Fellowship in Slavic Studies offered by Monash University Library conclude the program and share a brief summary of their experience. 

The fellowships aim to promote the use of the Library’s Slavic collection and to support and strengthen the Slavic Studies community in Australia by funding research, through a benefaction from the late Ada Phyllis Booth (1921-2008), physicist and lecturer at the University of Melbourne. 

Dr Geoffrey Brown

As a visiting Canadian researcher I spent three months in Melbourne hosted by Monash University Library as part of an Ada Booth Research Fellowship, an experience which opened many doors for my research on Czech anti-communist activism in exile in Australia during the Cold War. In the Monash collections I made extensive use of Czech-language community newspapers published in Melbourne during the 1980s, and the Library’s rare books collection contained pamphlets and booklets published by Czech organisations in Australia which helped to focus my research aims for the project right from the beginning. Secondary materials related to post-World War Two immigration and Australian government policy provided additional context. While based in Melbourne I was also able to access the State Library of Victoria’s collections of historical Czech-language newspapers published in Australia and ephemera items related to the local Czech community.

Local Czechs living in Melbourne were very supportive and eager to help as I began researching their community history. I was invited to social events and introduced to many people willing to share their memories of pro-democracy protests and publishing campaigns and ready to provide me with newspapers, newsletters and other political memorabilia from their own personal collections.

The research materials I gathered while at Monash University will result in the publication of at least one academic journal article on the subject of Czech pro-democracy exile activism in Australia, and will potentially form part of a larger book looking at the Czech anti-communist movement among exile communities during the Cold War.

I first visited Melbourne briefly as a tourist a few years ago and it’s been wonderful having the opportunity to live here and really get know its attractions and unique character. The city and the state of Victoria have much to explore and the weather is wonderfully warm for a Canadian!

A recording of the public lecture by Dr Brown is available.

Dr Marta Havryshko

I was very pleased and honoured to be an Ada Booth Fellow which created many incredible opportunities to develop my research project: “Gender, Nation and Violence: Women’s Experiences of the Ukrainian Nationalist Underground”. The project focused on diverse women’s experiences in the armed Ukrainian nationalist underground represented by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (Orhanizatsiia Ukrains’kykh Natsionalistiv, OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka armiia, UPA) from the beginning of the Second World War and until the termination of nationalist resistance in the middle of 1950s. 

At the conclusion of my research I plan to publish several journal articles and a book about the gender-based violence against Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, Roma women perpetrated by different actors – members of Nationalists, Soviet, Polish partisan groups, representatives of Nazi and Soviet authorities and local collaborators in Western Ukraine during and after WWII. My plan is to complete the book manuscript by spring 2022.

During my stay at Monash University, I concentrated on library research, conducted interviews with ex-members of OUN, UPA, and witnesses of the WWII, prepared manuscripts of my future book, and actively participated in academic life.

I spent most of my time at the Sir Louis Matheson Library. I also spent a couple days at the National Library of Australia in Canberra. The opportunity to work with the rich collections at Monash expanded my source and knowledge base and provided access to the latest scholarly theories and methodological approaches to studying my research topics. I had an opportunity to work with the Ada Booth Slavic Collection, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive, Jewish question: records from the Berlin Document Center, and the Stalin digital archive. Some of the most valuable sources were those which are currently unavailable in Ukraine, in particular, Ukrainian-languages newspapers in Australia: “Vilna dumka” “Tserkva i zhyttia”. 

Monash is a vibrant centre of academic life and a dynamic hub for intellectuals from different disciplines. Residency at the University opened new and exciting prospects for exchange and collaboration. My immersion into the academic community involved consultations with outstanding Australian experts on Ukrainian and Soviet studies, gender/women’s studies, Holocaust, and oral history. I am especially grateful for an opportunity to have personal consultations with Professors Marko Pavlyshyn, Mark Edele and Paula Michaels, as well as Alessandro Achilli, Julie Fedor and Annabelle Baldwin. I had an amazing opportunity to conduct a unique and inspiring biographical interview with Professor Pavlyshyn for an academic website “Ukraina Moderna”.

One of the incredible highlights for me during the program was engaging with the Ukrainian diaspora in Australia. It was very interesting and exciting getting to know a little bit more about the life of the Ukrainian community in Melbourne. I was impressed by a number of cultural events, organised by active members of the Ukrainian community, and by the cultivation of their strong connection with Ukraine. In order to better understand the everyday life of the Ukrainian community in Australia I have visited some organisations, in particular, Ukrainian Hall in Essendon, a home-style aged care facility “Kalyna Care”, and a Ukrainian school in Noble Park. I met a lot of amazing people there, and conducted several interviews for my research projects.

In sum, my residency at Monash University provided me with a major stimulus and assistance to advance my work. I am very grateful for all the opportunities afforded to me by the Ada Booth Research Fellowship in Slavic Studies. 

A recording of the public lecture by Dr Havryshko is available.


Dr Simone Attilio Bellezza

My research deals with a comparative history of the Ukrainian communities in the West during the Cold War to understand how the national belonging of the Ukrainian diaspora changed through time and because of the influence of the culture and politics of the new home countries.

The Ada Booth Fellowship in Slavic Studies at Monash University Library gave me the great opportunity to come to Australia to study the Ukrainian diaspora in the country, which after the Second World War was the third most important recipient of Ukrainians fleeing from the Soviet Union. Melbourne and the state of Victoria still host the largest Ukrainian community in Australia and the Sir Louis Matheson Library has a wonderful repository of materials regarding their history. Moreover, the University is the seat of the first and most successful program in Ukrainian Studies in the country: the events leading to the creation of the program (accompanied by heated journalistic debates in the rivalry with Sydney) are extremely meaningful to understand the evolution of the Ukrainians living in Australia and the reasons for their commitment in the transnational movement for the defense of human rights. The Monash University Archives still preserve the documents regarding these events, and I was very happy to consult them while staying at the wonderful Clayton campus. Most of these documents came from the personal archive of Professor Marko Pavlyshyn, who was always ready to help me, suggested people to interview, and discussed with my interpretation.

While at Monash I had the opportunity to meet other scholars involved in Slavic studies, also from the University of Melbourne, like Mark Edele and Julie Fedor, who manage a very interesting Eurasianist Seminar Series. Moreover, I had the opportunity to exploit the patrimony of the State Library Victoria in downtown Melbourne (a wonderful environment to study) and even of the National Library of Australia in Canberra, thanks to a short trip organized by Library staff at Monash. I want to thank them as they were all kind and eager to help.

Finally, with the exception of the climate (Melbourne is really the city with four seasons in one day), I enjoyed a lot my stay in Australia from a touristic point of view, and I had the opportunity to realize one of my dreams: visiting Tasmania, which is just a one-hour flight away from Melbourne.

A recording of the public lecture by Dr Bellezza is available.