Leonid Finberg (born 30 July 1948) is a Ukrainian sociologist and cultural expert, Director of the Center for the Studies of History and Culture of East European Jewry at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and editor-in-chief of Dukh i Litera (Spirit Letter) Publishing House.
A 1972 graduate of Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, he worked as an engineer for the institutions of the Soviet Ministry of Energy (1968–1996). In the late 1980s, he joined the editorial council of the journal Filosofs’ka ta sotsiolohichna dumka (Philosophical and Sociological Thought) and has arranged a series of expert sociological surveys ever since.
Leonid Finberg authored a samizdat (self-published) study of the legal culture of Soviet society as reflected in the popular discussion of the 1977 "Brezhnev Constitution". In 1995, he was a visiting professor of Geneva University teaching social and economic problems of post-communist Ukraine and the twentieth-century Ukrainian political history. In 1997–2000, he taught a course in Jewish civilization for M.A. students of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
Since 1995, Finberg has been a member of the Yehupets Art Criticism Almanac editorial board; in 2011, he became its deputy editor-in-chief, and since 2015, the chief editor. In 1997, he also became a co-editor of Dukh i Litera (Spirit Letter) journal.
In 1996–2000, he organized and chaired Ivan L. Rudnytsky Interdisciplinary Seminar in Humanities. The seminar was held in Kyiv, and its proceedings were published as Dialogues at the Turn of the Century (Kyiv: Dukh i Litera, 2003).
Leonid Finberg’s primary academic interests are Jewish history and culture of Ukraine, twentieth-century Ukrainian society, post-totalitarian world, and contemporary social problems and challenges. He has authored more than a hundred academic and opinion pieces for Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, French, German and American books and papers.
Leonid Finberg has compiled, edited and prepared for publishing dozens of book titles including Sketches of the History and Culture of Jews in Ukraine (2008), Jews and Slavs (vols. 5, 7, 19–20, 2000–2010), Ukrainian translations of The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt (2005), In Search of Freedom by Adam Michnik (2009), the art album Kultur Lige: Artistic Avant-Garde of the 1910s and the 1920s (2007), Horizons of Individual: A Book in Honor of Ivan Dziuba (2011), Taras Shevchenko’s Kobzar illustrated by Vasyl Sedlyar, Jewish Civilization: Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies (2012) and many others.
Leonid Finberg has been the principal academic adviser for the documentary films A New Day Will Come (dir. Roman Shyrman, 1994) and Spell Your Name (dir. Serhy Bukovsky, 2006). In 2014–2016, he advised the production teams of Kultura TV’s documentaries on Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska, Roman Korohodsky, and Oleksa Zakharchuk (dir. Tamara Boiko).
He has also been an organizer and curator of historical and art exhibitions: "Kultur Lige: Artistic avant-garde of the 1910s and 1920s (Kyiv, 2007), "The unknown pages of Ukrainian avant-garde: Vasyl Sedlyar as an illustrator of Taras Shevchenko’s Kobzar" (Kyiv, 2009), "Chernobyl: Expeditions to a lost land" (Freiburg, 2011), "Babyn Yar memory" (Kyiv, 2011), "Kyiv Collection" (Kyiv, 2015), "The worlds of Boris Yegiazaryan" (Kyiv, 2016), "Heraclytus’ river: The paintings of Oleksa Zakharchuk" (Kyiv, 2016), "Liudmyla Bruyevych: Mallow and grapes" (Kyiv, 2017).
Since 2013, Finberg has organized and hosted more than a hundred Ukrlife TV talks with writers, scholars, and publishers on current developments in Ukrainian culture. He also was an organizer and author of several video blogs on Espreso TV, including the blog The Culture League.
Together with Kostiantyn Sigov at Dukh i Litera, he has published more than 500 books, which have introduced the intellectual classics of the twentieth century to Ukrainian audience: the texts by Hannah Arendt, Paul Ricœur, Georges Nivat, Jaroslav Pelikan, Sergei Averintsev, Sergei Parajanov, Czesław Miłosz, Janusz Korczak, Leonidas Donskis, Mircea Eliade, Gennady Estraikh, Boris Khersonsky, Svetlana Alexievich, Timothy Snyder, Myroslav Marynovych, Yosyf Zisels, Pinchas Polonsky and others.
He has been a publisher of several book series:
- Library of Resistance, Library of Hope, featuring, i.a., Vasyl Stus: A Life as Creation by Dmytro Stus, Ukrainian translations of Moral Blindness: The Loss of Sensitivity in Liquid Modernity by Zygmunt Bauman and Leonidas Donskis, The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999 by Timothy Snyder, and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt, Courage and Fear by Ola Hnatiuk, and the collections Maidan: Testimonies; Dissidents: An Anthology of Texts; and Yevhen Sverstiuk – Valeria Andrievska: Correspondence (2 vols., 3 books).
- Figures of Culture, which includes Chasing after an Elusive Bird: The Life of Hryhorii Skovoroda and The Charm of Energy: Mykhailo Drahomanov by Leonid Ushkalov, To the Gates of Light: Portraits by Roman Korohodsky, Viktor Nekrasov: A Portrait of Life by Yury Vilensky, Under the Lukash Star by Bohdan Zholdak, and A Tale about Mykola Zerov by Volodymyr Panchenko.
- Judaica Library, covering the collection Judeo-Christian Dialogue, the books Culture in Yiddish: Ukraine, the First Half of the Twentieth Century by Gennady Estraikh, Metaphors and Memory by Cynthia Ozick, Dialogues of Mutual Understanding: Ukrainian-Jewish Relations by Iza Chruślińska and Petro Tyma, A Prayer for the Government: Ukrainians and Jews in Revolutionary Times, 1917–1920 by Henry Abramson, two-volume Jewish Civilization: Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies and the textbooks for liceum students The Pages of Ukraine’s Jewish History and The Pages of Ukraine’s Jewish Art.
- Ї Independent Cultural Journal’s Order for Intellectual Courage – "for publishing Ukraine’s largest series of philosophical, religious, and intellectual texts and organizing the constructive Ukrainian-Jewish dialogue" (2007)
- Antonovych Foundation Award "For the Contribution to Ukrainian Culture" (2013)
- Silver Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2014)
- Ignacy Jan Paderewski Award for significant contribution in the development of Ukrainian-Polish relations (2015)
- Light of Justice Award of the Institute of Leadership and Management of the Ukrainian Catholic University (2018)