AFS President Marilyn White initiated and funded the inaugural award for the AFS Presidential Award for Meritorious Service and presented it to Iryna Voloshyna at the 2022 Annual Meeting. The award recognizes exceptional service to the discipline that goes above and beyond usual research, documentation, presentation, or conservation. It honors someone who embarks upon extraordinary service in care of one’s colleagues and the discipline.
Earlier this year Iryna initiated efforts to protect a wide variety of cultural heritage documentation when Ukraine was suddenly invaded by Putin’s forces from Russia. While she supported her colleagues in need of information and resources as they sought safety during the invasion and became a resource to journalists and scholars trying to understand what was happening in real time on social media apps, she also took action as her colleagues in Ukraine worried about their work: multimedia research collections documenting decades of traditions in communities across Ukraine were under threat in individual homes holding researchers’ hard drives and in digital collections housed in museums and other cultural institutions. This work involved listening to the needs and advocating for support of colleagues in Ukraine, coordinating a team to amass appropriate resources, and relentless efforts to assist in the dissemination of information.
Originally from Ukraine, Iryna Voloshyna is a PhD student at the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University Bloomington. Before that she was a Fulbright fellow and received her MA in Folklore at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Her research interests include folk arts, material culture, ethnomusicology, performance studies, heritage studies, migration and diaspora studies, and politics of culture. Iryna has worked with the New York State Council on the Arts, New York Folklore Society, Yara Arts Group, Ukrainian Museum in New York, and the Ukrainian-American Museum and Archive in Detroit; she also sang with an award-winning folk singing ensemble, Ladovytsi, in Ukraine, and a NYC-based ensemble, Ukrainian Village Voices.
In addition to working with AFS on cloud storage backups for these researchers and assisting the efforts of archivists and librarians around the world working to save websites and media through the project, SUCHO: Saving Ukrainian Heritage Online, Iryna has led workshops and performances to promote cultural understanding, participated in K-12 workshops on how to talk about Ukraine in the classroom, has worked on translation services and refugee assistance, has donated time and resources to the Ukrainian defense effort, and has given countless interviews to underscore the rich cultural traditions and lives under threat since the beginning of the invasion.
Join AFS in recognizing Iryna’s selfless tenacity, which has undoubtedly provided enormous support to colleagues in Ukraine.
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