The development of Russian and Ukrainian nationalism has always been closely intertwined. My research project analyses the emergence of the conflict between these two political movements, which were began in close contact, but grew increasingly antagonistic. The history of the Shul’gin/Shul’hyn family, a dynasty of Kiev journalists and politicians, is to serve as the background to a histoire croisée of Russian and Ukrainian nationalism. Several members of this family participated in the debates on the Russian and Ukrainian nation between the 1860s and the Russian civil war. They thus helped form the emerging nationalist ideologies and organisations on both sides.
By tracking the involvement of the Shul’gins/Shul’hyns in the development of national ideologies and the activities of nationalist organisations, I shall be able to develop a microhistorical analysis of the crucial phases in the emerging conflict between Russian and Ukrainian nationalism: Their common roots in the Kiev intelligentsia of the 1860s, their political rivalry in the later 19th century, their entry into the era of mass politics after 1905, and finally their open confrontation in revolution and civil war.
Why did the members of one family, who shared the same cultural and social background, decide to support two different national projects? Why did national identities become more important than family loyalties – and what role did the imperial dimension play? How did the Shul’gins/Shul’hyns influence national movements and ideologies, and to what extent were their own biographies determined by these movements and ideologies? By answering such questions, my project will contribute to the historiography on nationalising empires, to transnational analyses of nationalism, and to the field of imperial biographies.