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Dr Olena Palko

  • Overview



    Olena Palko joined Birkbeck in January 2018 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. Her research interests lie in the field of early Soviet cultural history and the interwar history of Eastern Europe. She was awarded her Ph.D. from UEA in 2017 and held research fellowships at Humbold University (Berlin) and Basel University. She also holds a Degree of ‘Candidate of Sciences’ (kandydat nauk) from the Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

    Her current research examines the interwar minority policies in Eastern Europe. It aims to investigate the links between foreign-policy considerations of the Polish and Soviet governments and the promotion of ethnic diversity in the region. Thereby, the project focuses on the competing policies towards the Polish minority in Ukraine/Belarus and the Ukrainian/Belarusian minorities in Poland

    Olena has taught various courses in Modern European, Russian and Soviet history at Birkbeck, the University of East Anglia and the University of Basel



    • PhD in History, University of East Anglia, 2017

    Professional memberships

    • Member of British Association for Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (BASEES)

    • Post-Graduate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

    • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

    Honours and awards

    • Prize for the Best Book in the field of Ukrainian history, politics, language, literature and culture, American Association for Ukrainian Studies, June 2021
    • Scholarly Publication Support Grant, Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies (CFUS), June 2020
    • Post-Doctoral Visiting Research Fellowship, Deutsches Historisches Institut, Warsaw, Poland, June 2019
    • Post-Graduate Prize for the Best Article, BASEES , June 2018
    • 'Ukrainian Research in Switzerland' (URIS) Post-Doctoral Fellowship , University of Basel, Switzerland, June 2017
    • Faculty of Arts and Humanities Graduate School Prize, Best Article, University of East Anglia, June 2017
    • Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Study Foundation of the Berlin House of Representatives, June 2013
    • The Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN) annual PhD Scholarship, The Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN) , June 2013
    • National Scholarship Programme for the Support of Mobility of Students, PhD Students, University Teachers and Researchers, Government of the Slovak Republic, June 2012


  • Research


    Research interests

    • National minorities in Eastern and Southeastern Europe
    • Political and cultural history of Soviet Union and Ukraine
    • Transnational history of the Polish-Soviet borderlands

    Research overview

    Dr Olena Palko is the author of Making Ukraine Soviet. Literature and Cultural Politics under Lenin and Stalin (Bloomsbury, 2020) that examines the rationale, limitations, and peculiarities of the Soviet nationalities policy in Ukraine and the role of artists and public intellectuals in the process of political and cultural Sovietisation.

    Her current project, entitled ‘Contested Minorities: A Transnational History of the Polish-Soviet Borderlands, 1918-1939’ employs a comparative and transnational history methodology to identify the underlying motives behind the implementation of the minority policies in the Soviet-Polish borderlands in the interwar period, and to examine the link between ethnic particularism and foreign policy considerations of the emerging Polish and Soviet governments.

    Dr Olena Palko is also co-editing (with Prof. Constantin Ardeleanu, University of Galati) the edited volume dealing with the formation of Ukraine’s borders, titled ‘Making Ukraine: Negotiating, Contesting, and Drawing Borders in Twentieth-Century Ukraine’ (forthcoming with MQUP), and a special issue in the peer-reviewed journal National Identities (with Dr Samuel Foster, UEA) titled, ‘Contested Minorities in the “New Europe”’.

    Dr Palko's primary research interest lies in the field of Soviet and East European history, nationalism, and minorities.


    Research Centres and Institutes

    Research clusters and groups

    • Mobility, migration
    • Conflict and violence
    • Difference, race and inequality
    • Global history and internationalism
  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Teaching modules

    • The Modern World (SSHC411S4)
  • Publications




    Book Section