Andriy Nahachewsky travelled to Brazil for 6 months (Nov 2009 – May 2010), and worked intensively to document the traditional culture of the Ukrainian community there (some 400,000 people, rural and urban). He visited some 40 communities with a significant Ukrainian population in the states of Parana, Sao Paulo and Santa Catarina. He recorded over 250 interviews, took approximately 12,000 photographs and recorded 53 hours of video recordings. He collected a small number of artifacts of traditional life, and amassed a library of approximately 200 books (either hard copy or electronically as pdf). Research methods included audience/participation, unstructured, and semi-structured interviews, as well as work in personal and institutional archives.
Since this was the first substantial ethnographic/folkloristic documentation of this community, Andriy cast the project’s mandate quite broadly, collecting diachronic and synchronic information on material culture (farming practices, foodlore, traditional crafts, folk architecture, religious painting), as well as oral traditions (dialectal speech, songs, legends, personal experience narratives), customary lore (particularly weddings, Christmas, Easter and other calendar holidays), spiritual culture (formal religion as well as folk beliefs, folk medicine, etc), performing arts (music and dance) and local history. In all cases, he was interested in continuity from the European heritage, but also particularly in hybridity and change in the community’s traditions.
The main goal of the project was to collect materials to write a book comparing Ukrainian traditional culture on three continents. People from western Ukraine emigrated to both Canada and Brazil from the same villages (mostly from the province of Galicia in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire), at the same time (largest wave of migration from 1891 until 1914), and for the same reasons (scarcity of farmland in Galicia, while Canada and Brazil were both hoping to settle newly opened agricultural territories quickly).
The traditions of the community in Brazil are rich and conceptually interesting. They are similar to Canadian traditions in many ways, but also quite different. The data raise numerous issues in ethnic symbolism, cultural continuity, and the relationship between traditions and their environment. Key strengths in the data relate to wedding traditions, personal history narratives, ethnic dance traditions, religious art, and calendar customs. There is good new information on regional diversity within the Ukrainian communities in Brazil.