Orest Subtelny

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Orest Subtelny (Ukrainian: О́рест Субте́льний) is a Canadian historian of Ukrainian descent. Born in Kraków, General Government in German-occupied Poland, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1973. Since 1982 he has been a professor in the departments of History and Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada.[1]

Education and teaching

Subtelny graduated Temple University in Philadelphia in 1965. He also studied in universities of Vienna and Hamburg. His doctorate Subtelny received in 1973 after defending his dissertation "Reluctant allies: Pylyp Orlyk and his relations with Crimean Khanate and Ottoman Empire. 1708-1742." His primary adviser was Oleksander Ohloblyn.

His teaching career Subtelny started in History Department of Harvard (1973-1975), later moving to the Hamilton College in New York (1976-1981). Since 1982 he is a professor of history and politics in the York University in Toronto.


Subtelny's major work is the general textbook Ukraine: A History (1988), a work of Ukrainian historiography. During the Mikhail Gorbachev reforms, the book was quickly translated into both Ukrainian and Russian and affected the growth of Ukrainian historical and national consciousness during the initial years of Ukrainian independence.

Under the influence of his mentors, the orientalist Omeljan Pritsak and the Ivan Mazepa specialist Oleksander Ohloblyn, Subtelny's earlier work dealt with the Cossack era, especially the revolt of Hetman Ivan Mazepa against Tsar Peter the Great. In this work, he sought to avoid the extremes of labeling Mazepa either an evil traitor to Russia or a heroic defender of Ukrainian national independence and portrayed him as a typical partisan of aristocratic local autonomy before the encroaching absolute monarchies of his time.

In his history of Ukraine, Subtelny took a more traditional approach, like his predecessors Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Dmytro Doroshenko, and Ivan Krypiakevych, writing a national history, primarily the history of the Ukrainian people. However, unlike these predecessors who wished to stress aspirations to statehood, Subtelny stressed "statelessness." In his view, modernization of the country was largely sponsored by outside powers and thus not exactly favorable to the rise of a Ukrainian national consciousness.


Selected books and publications

  • The Mazepists: Ukrainian Separatism in the Early Eighteenth Century (1981).
  • The Domination of Eastern Europe, Foreign Absolutism and Native Nobilities (1986)
  • Ukraine: A History (1988)
  • Ukrainians in North America (1991)
  • "Cossacks", in The World Book Encyclopedia (1997)
  • "Ukraine", in Encarta Encyclopedia (1997)
  • "Ukraine: The Imperial Heritage", Briefing Papers of the Canadian Bureau of International Studies (1996)


  1. "York Atlas - Phone and E-mail Directory". Mocha.yorku.ca. Retrieved 2015-05-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Ablitsov, V. Galactic "Ukraina". Ukrainian diaspora: prominent personalities. "KIT". Kiev, 2007

External links