Mariya Lesiv

Department Head
Associate Professor

B.A. (Lviv, Ukraine)
M.A. (Alberta) 
Ph.D. (Alberta)
ED4049, Education Bldg.

Mariya Lesiv’s research interests include folklore and national/ethnic identity building processes; folklore and politics; diaspora studies; belief and religious folklife; religion and art; and new religious movements including modern Western and East European Paganisms. Mariya arrived to Memorial University from the University of Alberta, where she completed her PhD and worked at the Kule Centre for Ukrainian and Canadian Folklore being actively engaged in fieldwork and publication projects related to Ukrainian diaspora culture.

Dr. Lesiv's first book, The Return of Ancestral Gods: Modern Ukrainian Paganism As an Alternative Vision for a Nation, was published by McGill-Queen's University Press in 2013. It is devoted to a new religious and political movement that strives to revive old rural folklore while creating an alternative vision for a present-day Ukrainian nation in both Ukraine and the diaspora.

Dr. Lesiv is a recipient of a 2017-2019 Social Studies and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant for her fieldwork-based project “Host­-Region: Post-­Socialist Diaspora Communities in Newfoundland,” devoted to recent immigrants to the province from the former Socialist countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The project focuses on the immigrants’ individual and collective identities as formed and communicated via personal experience narratives, creative and expressive culture and belief. 

In 2019-2023, Dr. Lesiv served as Pesident-Elect, President, and Past-President of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada/l'Association canadienne d'ethnologie et de folklore (FSAC).  She currently serves as President of the Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Folklore Association (SEEFA).

Recent Publications

2021. Co-edited with Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby, Special Issue I: Folklore and Protest, Folklorica:  Journal of the Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Folklore Association 25.

2023. (Forthcoming), with Wyatt Shibley, "Domestic Ethnicity:  The Lebanese and Ukrainian Diasporas in the Host-Region of Newfoundland."  In Migrations and Diasporas:  Generating Spaces for Inclusion Through Interdisciplinary Practices, edited by William Arrocha & Elena Xeni.   Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.

2022. (Invited) "Folk Belief and Religion in Ukraine:  Creating the Charisma of Place."  In The Oxford Handbook of Slavic and East European Folklore, edited by Margaret Beissinger.  Oxford University Press.

2021.  "Co-Editor's Introduction to the Folklorica Special Issue 'Folklore and Protest I, '"  Folklorica 25: iii-xv.

2021. "Not All Quiet on the Culinary Front:  The Battle Over Borshch in Ukraine" Folklorica 25: 58-77

2021.  "Host-Region: Safe Folklore and the Negotiation of Difference in Post-Socialist Diasporas in Newfoundland."  Anthropologica 63 (2): 1-27

2019. ""I know history': Experience, Belief, and Politics in the Post-Socialist Diaspora."  Western Folklore 78 (2/3): 119-150.

2018. “Hope for Ukraine, Fall of America and Putin the Savior: The Supernatural in Ukrainian and Russian Media and Vernacular Contexts.” Journal of American Folklore 131: 30-52.

2017. “Blood Brothers or Blood Enemies: Ukrainian Pagans’ Beliefs and Responses to the Ukraine-Russia Crisis.” Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and Paganism Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and Paganism. Ed. Kathryn Rountree. London: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers. 133-155.

2016. “Okrim polityky: estetychne v ukrains’komu ridnovirstvi [In Spite of Politics: Aesthetics in Modern Ukrainian Paganism]. Ukraina moderna [Modern Ukraine: International Intellectual Periodical],  (In Ukainian).

2016. “Der moderne ukrainische Paganismus [Modern Ukrainian Paganism].” Religion & Gesellschaft in Ost und West [Religion and Society in East and West] 2 (44): 12-14. (In German).

2014. “How to Conduct Rituals: Culture Makers in Soviet Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diaspora.” Proverbs in Motion: A Festschrift in Honour of Bohdan Medwidsky. Ed. Andriy Nahachewsky and Maryna Chernyavska. Toronto: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press. 222-240.

2013. “Ukrainian Paganism and Syncretism: ‘This is Indeed Ours!’.” Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe. Ed. Kaarina Aitamurto and Scott Simpson. Durham: Acumen Publishing.128-145.

2012. “Prayer and Power: A New Women’s Tradition in a Ukrainian Village.” Ethnologies: Journal of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada 34.1-2 (2012): 227-249.

2009. “Glory to Dazhboh (Sun-god) or to All Native Gods?: Monotheism and Polytheism in Contemporary Ukrainian Paganism.” Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies 11. 2.: 197-222.

2007. “From Ritual Object to Art Form: The Ukrainian Easter Egg Pysanka In Its Canadian Context.” Folklorica: Journal of Slavic and Eastern European Folklore Studies Association 12: 1-32.