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How have Orientalist ideas shaped scholarship, culture, and power dynamics within the Slavic world?

In what ways have Orientalist and anti-imperialist discourses responded to geopolitical shifts and population transfers across the borderlands of Eastern Europe?

More urgently, how should we revise our understanding of East/West divides in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

These questions lie at the heart of Slavs and Tatars’ exhibition MERCZbau, currently on view at the Neubauer Collegium. Participants at this panel will gather to consider the lost history of multinational coexistence in Lviv that is projected into an imagined/counterfactual present by the exhibition. We will also explore the shifting meanings of the “East” at a moment when globalization and humanitarian crisis make it impossible to disentangle East and West – or art and politics.


  • Boriša Falatar, Head of Kyiv Office, 2020–22 OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine
  • Leah Feldman, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
  • Markian Prokopovych, Associate Professor of Modern European Cultural History, Durham University
  • Dieter Roelstraete, Curator, Neubauer Collegium
  • Tara Zahra, Roman Family Director Neubauer Collegium

This event is jointly organized by the Neubauer Collegium and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights at the University of Chicago.


Don't miss the Slavs and Tatars MERCZbau Exhibit

Ends October 7, Neubauer Collegium, 5701 S. Woodlawn 

MERCZbau revisits the intertwined histories of the Ukrainian city of Lviv and the Polish city of Wroclaw as seen through the prism of a particularly eastern Orientalism. The Berlin-based artist collective Slavs and Tatars has created a speculative range of merchandising dedicated to the defunct Department of Oriental Studies of what was once known as the Jan Kazimierz University of Lwow. All proceeds from the sale of the merchandise will be donated to the Scholars at Risk organization. Learn more here.