Prof Dr Olena Palko

Prof Olena Palko is a scholar with an interdisciplinary profile. She studied political science and philosophy at the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kiev and obtained her doctorate in political science at the Institute of Political Science and Ethnology at the National Academy of Sciences in Kiev. Dr Palko also completed further PhD studies in history at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England in March 2017. Her research interests are the political and cultural history of Ukraine in the 20th century. Dr Palko’s research to date has focused on the question of the Bolsheviks’ consolidation of power in Ukraine in the 1920s.


We are very pleased that Dr Olena Palko has been awarded an SNSF PRIMA Fellowship for her project "Red Tower of Babel: Soviet minorities experiment in interwar Ukraine" and congratulate her warmly on this success!

Dr Olena Palko was the only historian to prevail in an extremely competitive competition and will be the first PRIMA scholar to conduct research with us at the Department of History at the University of Basel (from August 2022).

A profile with further details on Olena Palko's research and teaching activities as SNSF-Prima Professor in Basel can be found here.

See the Personal Website

Research Project

In her research project in Basel, Dr Palko was undertaking a comparison of the nationality policies of Poland and the early USSR in the 1920s. With particular reference to policy towards the Ukrainian nation, the research investigates the interplay of minority policy and foreign policy in the years between the wars. It described nationality policy as a means of political consolidation and intergovernmental rivalry, exploring in particular the role of Soviet “Polonophobia” and Polish “Sovietophobia” in the formulation of nationality and minority policies in both countries.

Teaching at the University of Basel

Dr Palko taught a course in English in Basel on “Soviet Nation-Building in the 1920s–1930s” in the 2017 autumn semester. The course focused on principles and measures of Soviet nationality and minority policy in the interwar period. Conflicting objectives and differences in the implementation of nationality and minority policy in the various Soviet republics were discussed. The aim of this approach was to contribute to a better understanding of the historical dimension of numerous contemporary conflicts in the post-Soviet region.
The course was open to BA and MA students of Eastern European studies, history, political science, European Global Studies and related subjects.

Recent Publications

  • Palko, Olena (2020): Making Ukraine Soviet. Literature and Cultural Politics under Lenin and Stalin. London, UK: Bloomsbury.
    • 2021 Alexander Nove Prize (BASEES) for 'Making Ukraine Soviet: Literature and Cultural Politics under Lenin and Stalin'

    • Prize for the Best Book in the field of Ukrainian history, politics, language, literature and culture (2019-20) from the American Association for Ukrainian Studies.


About URIS

Learn more about the objectives, the vision and the funding of the initiative “Ukrainian Research in Switzerland”.

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The URIS website presents an overview of ongoing Ukraine research projects in the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences.

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