Finberg Leonid
Photo: Danylo Pavlov / The Ukrainians

Finberg Leonid

Sociologist, researcher of culture

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.