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Student Curators 2023


Unveiling Eastern Europe: Narratives, Politics and Cultural Expressions

Introduction, or why bother about Eastern Europe? 


Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Eastern Europe has undergone profound changes, transitioning into a new era marked by European integration. However, despite this transformation, misconceptions and limited knowledge persist regarding the region's art, culture, society, and politics. Undeterred by its position as "the other" in the world order paradigm, Eastern Europe is more than a mere collection of stereotypes and debris awaiting reconstruction. In the midst of divisive times, it is crucial to critically investigate the notion of togetherness, regardless of ethnic, racial, cultural, and social differences. By concentrating on the past, present, and future of Eastern European communities, this projects aims to rejuvenate the contemporary imagination of what community means and challenge the undermining forces that have impacted the region.



Narratives about Eastern Europe in popular media often reinforce stereotypical ideas about the region, while the perspectives and narratives of the 2.2 million Eastern Europeans living in the UK remain largely unheard. This Eastern European reading list challenges preconceived notions, amplifies marginalised voices, and empowers individuals from the region. By unveiling untold narratives, dismantling stereotypes, and cultivating cultural exchange, this collection seeks to foster understanding, appreciation, and representation of Eastern European history, culture, and identity.


“'No Eastern Europeans', Warwickshire sign reads” The Telegraph, 10 April 2013. Accessed July 2023. 

“'No Eastern Europeans', Warwickshire sign reads” The Telegraph, 10 April 2013.             

Why now?

During the times when the unique character of Eastern Europe is finally being recognised in the light of the long-awaited acknowledgement of Russian imperialism and colonialism, this collection seeks to spread awareness about the so-called Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe itself is a term relatively new and mostly imposed by others on the nationals from the region. 




The anti-Eastern European sentiment has been present in the West since 2004 (after the 2004 EU expansion), and even more so post-Brexit. The population is being demonised by the media, regarded as “intuitively criminal”, and, paradoxically, remaining invisible in the collective memory. Eastern Europeans don’t exist as a nation—it is not an identity widely recognised or, for that matter, claimed by the individuals. Since that label  has long been markedly negative, not many will claim it for themselves. This collection seeks to reclaim it.

Selected Books

Reading List

The reading list below is available to anyone, but please note that links to e-resources are only available to students and staff at the University of York. You can also access the list on a seprate webpage.

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Kitchen Conversations Podcast


Patrycja Rozwora is an artist, writer and a founder of the podcast Kitchen Conversations focused on making the enigmatic and elusive Eastern Bloc more accessible to a wider audience. Each episode centers around an individual artist or researcher, delving into their connection, fascination, and motivation for creating within the context of the post-Soviet sphere. 

Kitchen Conversations offers a refreshing alternative to the formal setting of (Western) academia. Through a relaxed and accessible approach, artists, curators, and activists from various backgrounds and accents are invited to discuss their works in connection to the multifaceted region known as Eastern Europe. 

About the Student Curator

Student Curator

My name is Ania and I have recently completed my BA in History of Art at the University of York. I am an aspiring writer and curator with an interest in feminist art, transnational networks of artistic exchanges, and contemporary art from Eastern Europe, Latin America and East Asia. 

This collection has been curated based on my personal experience as an Eastern European émigré and it mainly derives from my genuine interest in the region’s rich culture and history. As I have always struggled to be proud of my roots due to the feelings of shame and displacement, I wanted to create a platform that empowers myself and my community, however small it might be. 

Painting by an Ukrainian artist Maria Prymachenko, Pigeons (1968), gouache on paper, 60 x 83.7 centimeters 

Maria Prymachenko, Pigeons (1968), gouache on paper, 60 x 83.7 centimeters. 



War in Ukraine: Resources

Painting by an Ukrainian artist Maria Prymachenko, May That Nuclear War Be Cursed! (1978), gouache on paper, 61.5 x 86.3 centimeters. 

Maria Prymachenko, May That Nuclear War Be Cursed! (1978), gouache on paper, 61.5 x 86.3 centimeters. 



New East Digital Archive was created to preserve the legacy of The Calvert Journal: an online publication covering culture and innovation across Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia between 2013 and 2022.

It aims to celebrate the unique cultural era covered by The Calvert Journal and ensure that its work remains accessible to researchers, academics, and the public.

See Yourself on the Shelf

See Yourself on the Shelf is an opportunity for students of the University of York to work with the Library as interns. We want to celebrate the diversity of our student population through our library collections. Student Curators use your passion and creativity to highlight areas of our collections that promote diversity and inclusion during the project.

Visit the See Yourself on the Shelf page to find out more about our student library curator work. If you have any questions regarding this collection please contact the library at

Manifesto & Project's Aims

As an advocate of diversity and inclusion, this project was undertaken with the aim to curate an Eastern European Library Collection that challenges preconceived notions, amplifies marginalised voices, and empowers individuals from the region. In recognition of the struggles faced by Eastern European immigrants in the UK, I wanted to create a space that fosters understanding, appreciation, and representation.

My project is driven by the following principles:

  • Unveiling Untold Narratives: I believe in the importance of highlighting the rich tapestry of Eastern European history, culture, and identity that has often been overshadowed or misunderstood. Through curated materials, I aim to reveal the untold stories, experiences, and perspectives that reflect the diversity within Eastern Europe.
  • Dismantling Stereotypes: I want to challenge the prevailing stereotypes and misconceptions that have perpetuated biases against Eastern Europeans. By curating a collection that showcases the depth and complexity of the region, I want to dismantle preconceived notions and foster a deeper appreciation for its contributions to art, literature, politics, and society.
  • Amplifying Marginalised Voices: I want to recognise that Eastern Europe comprises various ethnic, cultural, and linguistic communities, each with their unique experiences. This collection aims to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups within the Eastern European diaspora, including LGBTQ+ individuals, ethnic minorities, and marginalised communities, allowing their stories to be heard and celebrated.
  • Cultivating Cultural Exchange: I believe in the power of cultural exchange as a means to foster empathy, understanding, and dialogue. Through the curated collection, I aim to facilitate intercultural exchange between Eastern Europe and the broader community, promoting mutual respect, appreciation, and cross-cultural learning.
  • Empowering Eastern European Communities: We strive to create a sense of belonging and empowerment for Eastern Europeans in the UK by providing a space where they can explore their heritage, engage with their history, and find representation. This collection aims to be a source of pride, knowledge, and connection, strengthening the sense of community among Eastern Europeans and bridging the gap between cultures.
  • Accessibility and Inclusion: I am committed to ensuring that this collection is accessible and inclusive to all. By offering materials in various formats, including books, digital resources, and multimedia content, I aim to accommodate diverse learning styles and cater to the needs of a wide range of readers.
  • Celebrating Eastern European Creativity: This curation celebrates the artistic achievements and intellectual contributions of Eastern European creators, authors, artists, and scholars. This collection will showcase works that highlight the vibrancy, innovation, and intellectual depth of Eastern European creativity, encouraging exploration and inspiration.

I envision this collection as a gateway to understanding, appreciation, and connection. By diversifying the library and providing a platform for Eastern European narratives, I aim to foster inclusivity, challenge biases, and create a lasting legacy that honours the richness and diversity of Eastern Europe. Together, we can build bridges of understanding, empower communities, and promote a more inclusive and interconnected society.