The central goal of this study is to examine cooperation among religious communities on social welfare issues in late nineteenth/early twentieth century Lviv. Such efforts include providing care to women and children in poverty, addressing women’s educational needs, and combating prostitution. In addition, the devastation and hardship experienced in the region throughout the early to mid-twentieth century has meant that those who survived often relocated (by choice, necessity, or force). The result of this displacement meant that many of the region's inhabitants found themselves permanently relocated to other countries. In the final section of the monograph, I examine potential incarnations of such organizations and movements in émigré communities.
With regard, to the larger relevance of the “Pathways of Law” project, my research illustrates the connections between social movements and the emergence of new social welfare systems in East Central Europe and examines how the two operated within the shifting legal landscape of the period. This approach is significant as social movements and social welfare have often been treated as distinct developments and examining them in historical contexts reveals the degree to which they are intertwined (Annetts et al. 2009). Eugen Ehrlich's approach to the study of law, as well as other studies of legal pluralism, are also central to my research. Ehrlich acknowledges that all conventional law has its roots in social institutions, such as organizations, religious groups, and family networks (Ehrlich, 1912). Drawing on this perspective, I focus on “emergent law,” including analysis of relationships between new, more secularly-oriented social welfare organizations and religious institutions and the practices that develop from such interaction. A further objective includes addressing gaps in the existing literature, for example there is sparse research on social welfare institutions in many regions of the Habsburg Empire. In contrast to existing scholarship on the Russian Empire, research on social welfare and women’s issues in neighboring Galicia during the same period is considerably less developed. Moreover, the emphasis that national, ethnic, and religious agendas have placed on history, has meant that the late nineteenth and early twentieth century have often been eclipsed by study of both earlier and later periods. Indeed, despite the presence of modernizing, secular forces, similar agendas also made cooperation on social welfare issues among Jews, Greek Catholics and Roman Catholics challenging in turn-of-the-century Lviv.
Methodologically this project demonstrates the utility of merging ethnographic and historical methods and perspectives in examining situated historical contexts and key actors. The first phases of enquiry entail extensive use of archival sources and historical studies of the period, but also rely on ethnographic interpretive perspectives. For the later component of the project, ethnographic interviews may prove useful in cases where present-day individuals are connected to organizations and movements with roots in fin-de-siècle Lviv. The great numbers of individuals who emigrated from the city to North and South America and Palestine suggests that experience, thinking, and modes of operation were carried over into new social contexts, especially in cases where many individuals from Lviv settled in the same area. In addition to examining the largely neglected topic of social welfare in Lviv, this study is also intended to demonstrate connections to efforts in émigré contexts. In the final phase, I will examine potential connections between old and new world cultural practices and institutions. Elsewhere this link has merely been asserted without making the connections explicit (Hundert 2004).
In addition to the above-stated goals, the project also serves the objective of increasing collaborative ties between eastern and western scholars. One concrete manifestation of such cooperation is organizing a web portal that includes content, such as maps, photographs, and documents relevant to Lviv’s Jewish, Polish, and Ukrainian communities and social welfare institutions of the period.