Evidence and Truth – Reflecting on the War in Ukraine in a Global Context

21–29 January 2023

The winter school reflects on the key intellectual problems raised by the ongoing war and the specific challenges facing students and scholars when they seek to reflect on processes happening in “real-time.” We start from the imperative of collecting and evaluating evidence and the need to develop strategies of verifying and evidencing truth on multiple levels – in view of the destruction of cultural heritage, war crimes, Russian propaganda campaigns, ongoing social processes such as migration and displacement, as well as the complexities of national and local identity.

These challenges put a huge burden on all students and scholars as they have to be performed under extreme time pressure and often in existential precarity. All this is made even more pressing by the recent technological shift toward the massification of digital images with their inherent manipulability, the rise of big data, the systematic deploying of fake news, fragmenting the public sphere, and destabilizing traditional institutions of democracy. Therefore, while the last decades tended towards relativizing truth and pointing to the unavoidable situatedness and subjectivity of any speaker and assertion, the ongoing war necessarily brings back questions of ascertaining truth claims and producing and evaluating evidence, pushing us beyond just registering the incompatibility of perspectives.

Along these lines, rather than just debating on these issues, the winter school invites students and lecturers to develop active and innovative strategies on how Ukrainian culture, identity, and institutional practices can be studied and valorized in view of these challenges and how resilient civic and academic organizations can be created and maintained in the context of the war and the postwar reconstruction.