Do vampires come from Ukraine?
On upiory and Ukrainian shamanism

  • Do vampires come from Ukraine?

The “Sunflower” Solidary COMunity Center invites to the meeting with Łukasz Kozak, medievalist and historian of culture, dedicated to the subversive potential of Ukrainian shamanism and upiorism.

In his daring book “Upiór. A natural history” Kozak argues that upiory - people possessing two souls, who after their death rise from the graves - are something much more than “folk demonology”. He postulates to treat upiory as real persons with their own microhistories, traumas and memories of oppression. He proves that upiór (also known as upir, upier, upyr, opyr, wupar, wpyr, wypiór and łupior), which originates in the area of contemporary Polish-Ukrainian-Belarusian borderlands, Podole, Wołyń, Pokucie and Polesie, is an embodiment of the memory of real lives, anxieties and deeds. It also symbolizes those who experienced oppression and exclusion during their lives, and thus couldn’t find peace after their death.

During the meeting, which will be hosted by Taras Gembik and Natalia Sielewicz, we will discuss whether upiór can be understood as a symbol of resistance. What connects a dissertation against the belief in upiory from the enlightenment period and a cossack rebellion? How Iwan Franko, writer, poeat, scholar and one of the founders of contemporary Ukrainian identity, described an upiorian event? How the memory of the folk rituals and the belief in multiplicity of soul, shapeshifting and the possibility of ecstatic journeys helped dozens of ethnic minorities which were forcibly incorporated into the Russian Empire, to sustain their culture and identity?

The meeting will be held in Polish language.

Łukasz Kozazk - medievalist, media scholar, historian of culture. Author of many books, such as “Upiór. A Natural HIstory”, “With Stake and Spade. Vampiric Diversity in Poland” and “Cats: Aleksandra Waliszewska”. He is also a lecturer and author of numerous academic and popular dissertations. He collaborated with many cultural and academic institutions on creating new technological solutions for digital archives.


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