The Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory NUBS 2.04
Jul 07, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230707T0900 20230707T1030 Europe/London 8.10. Post-, anti-, or de-colonial? Discourse on decolonization in memory studies on/ in Ukraine

With the Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the decolonial approach became one of the main theoretical perspectives taken by scholars who work on Ukraine in different fields of research. The panel proposes critical discussion about the potential, challenges, and limitations of using decolonial approach in the studies of memory in Ukrainian context.Drawing on the concrete cases and tracing the establishment of the main memory nodes in post-1991 Ukraine, the panel focuses on conceptual (re)-visioning of memory studies in Ukraine. If the "post" in the "post-Soviet" became outdated, can we see the evidence of this in the concrete examples of memory work? What does the decolonial approach give us, the scholars of memory, for a better understanding of memory work in Ukraine? How do we understand decolonization and decoloniality in the field of cultural and collective memory? The scholars comprising the panel come from different fields – history, sociology, literature and cultural studies, - which enriches the discussion on "decoloniality" as understood in different disciplines. The speakers deal with some of the central topics of Ukrainian history and how they are remembered today: Russian imperial legacies; Soviet legacies; and the Jewish heritage.

Anna Chebotareva

The societal perception of de russification policy in Ukraine

The Russian Ukrainian war has been going on with various degrees of intensity since 2014, resulting in thousands of victims, millions of displaced people and the occupation of large areas of Ukraine. Different phases of the Russo Ukrainian war have found their symbolic reflection in memory and identity politics. The phenomenon of decommunization can be traced back to the collapse of the USSR, but the state policy of outl ...

NUBS 2.04 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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With the Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the decolonial approach became one of the main theoretical perspectives taken by scholars who work on Ukraine in different fields of research. The panel proposes critical discussion about the potential, challenges, and limitations of using decolonial approach in the studies of memory in Ukrainian context.
Drawing on the concrete cases and tracing the establishment of the main memory nodes in post-1991 Ukraine, the panel focuses on conceptual (re)-visioning of memory studies in Ukraine. If the "post" in the "post-Soviet" became outdated, can we see the evidence of this in the concrete examples of memory work? What does the decolonial approach give us, the scholars of memory, for a better understanding of memory work in Ukraine? How do we understand decolonization and decoloniality in the field of cultural and collective memory? The scholars comprising the panel come from different fields – history, sociology, literature and cultural studies, - which enriches the discussion on "decoloniality" as understood in different disciplines. The speakers deal with some of the central topics of Ukrainian history and how they are remembered today: Russian imperial legacies; Soviet legacies; and the Jewish heritage.



Anna Chebotareva

The societal perception of de russification policy in Ukraine

The Russian Ukrainian war has been going on with various degrees of intensity since 2014, resulting in thousands of victims, millions of displaced people and the occupation of large areas of Ukraine. Different phases of the Russo Ukrainian war have found their symbolic reflection in memory and identity politics. The phenomenon of decommunization can be traced back to the collapse of the USSR, but the state policy of outlawing the Soviet symbolic legacy unfolded fully after the annexation of Crimea and the beginning of the war in Donbas. Even though the war is still ongoing and the outcome is unknown, February 24, 2022, marks a new tragic milestone in Ukrainian nation building and its radical separation from the "Russian world." After the full scale invasion, the policy of de Russification was launched on many levels. The process is manifested in changing toponyms named after the Russian state and cultural actors and dismantling the symbols of Russian imperial domination. The invasion's brutality, which includes the destruction of residential areas and mass violence against civilians, that some analysts describe as genocidal, is only likely to expedite anti Russian sentiments. At the same time, intra societal tensions around the Russophone Ukrainian culture, local identities and the role of the Russian language in Ukraine will likely pose a challenge to the long term resilience and consolidation of society, deeply traumatized by war. Drawing on original survey data (2013 2022) as well as in depth interviews with Ukrainian refugees and IDPs, I will consider the changing perception of the Russian imperial legacy in Ukraine. Using theoretical approaches of post colonial and memory studies, I will reflect upon the effect of war – both protracted military conflict since 2014 and the full scale Russian invasion in 2022 on the attitudes of Ukrainian society towards the past and the perceptions of state memory politics.


Valentyna Kharkhun

From Leninfall to Pushkinfall: Dealing with (un)wanted heritage during the Russo-Ukrainian war

On December 8, 2013, during the Euromaidan uprising, the Bessarabka Lenin monument in Kyiv was violently toppled by protesters calling for a radical turn in dealing with the Soviet past in Ukraine. This symbolic event caused a popular decommunization throughout Ukraine which later was officially approved after decommunization laws were passed in 2015 by Verkhovna Rada. The shedding of all public Lenin monuments was metaphorically called Leninopad and became the most recognizable symbol of Ukrainian memory politics during the first stages of Russo-Ukrainian war in Donbas region (2015-2021).

Discussing decommunization and its aftermath, memory activists highlighted the necessity for decolonization as the next stage in liberating Ukraine from its totalitarian legacy. In this context, decolonization entails eliminating the colonial presence of any dominant Russian culture. At the beginning of the full-scale Russo-Ukrainian war (2022), that stage of discussion turned to action, and Leninfall became "Pushkinfall," or the demolishing of monuments with ties to Russian historical and cultural figures and the renaming of uniquely Russian place names – everything once used to demonstrate the dominance of the great "Russian culture" in Ukrainian public spaces.

This paper discusses decommunization and decolonization as two memory policies during the Russo-Ukrainian war. Analyzing sociological data, media coverage and discussions among professionals and an ordinary audience, it will differentiate the most ambiguous and complicated cases in implementing these policies as to understand the transformation of Ukrainian society's perception of the Soviet past and contribution to identity-building. I am arguing that decommunization and especially decolonization testify to Ukraine's farewell to its Soviet past and call for a new identity: Ukraine is no longer a post-Soviet country, where "post" often means a zone of Russian influence and dominance, but as an independent European country fighting for its democratic future.


Alla Marchenko, Azrieli Postdoctoral Fellow, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Cultural memory about Ukraine: cases of Jewish Studies and Yiddish studies in 2022

Russian aggression in Ukraine provoked a splash of interest to Ukraine in many scholarly fields. In this talk, I will focus on how the topic of Ukraine was discussed within the fields of Jewish Studies and Yiddish studies in 2022, with an emphasis on history/memory connected to Ukraine in these fields. Both Jewish Studies and Yiddish Studies fields, specific enough in focusing on the Jewish legacy, could serve a platform for debates on presence and meanings of postcolonialism and de-colonialism. How were Ukraine-related topics discussed there, which themes, events and actors were chosen? Who is present (and absent) in main international discussions connected to Ukraine in the fields of Jewish studies and Yiddish studies in 2022, and what meanings can we take from that? Is Ukraine considered a separate topic, or a part of another entity (Eastern Europe, Slavic lands, etc.), and where is the place of Russia, in that regard? Based on content analysis of relevant text materials, I will provide a general context of the place of Ukraine in 2022 and offer possible indicators of postcolonialism and de-colonialism in cultural memory about Ukraine in the fields of Jewish Studies and Yiddish studies. This talk may be useful in wider discussions connected to academic approaches to cultural memory.


Yuliya Yurchuk, Senior Lecturer of History, Södertörn University (Sweden).

Gendering the war memory as a symptom of decolonization

At the times of wars, revolutions, and turmoil, the past presents a repertoire of examples and survival strategies not only for individuals but also for big communities like nations. The scale of terror and violence inflicted by Russian troops during the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 triggered a wide range of discussions on the past, especially the Second World War, in Ukraine. In the proposed paper, I approach the transformations of memory culture related to WWII which resulted from the reflections about the violence in the present. What we can observe in Ukraine today is a radical distancing from the culture of violence propagated by Russia's Great Victory frenzy epitomised by the motto "We can do it again" which bears strong masculine and patriarchal connotations. To counter this culture, people in Ukraine produce a new type of memory that undermines traditional masculine war imagery. The mere dichotomy that the war is "manly" and the peace is "womanly" (Goldstein 2001) are questioned by such memory work. What kind of memory is produced in Ukraine in the context of ongoing war? Which gender(s) does this memory have? What sort of masculinity and femininity are proposed by this memory in making? Drawing on the theories on gender and memory (Passerini et al. 2005) and analysing visual and textual material from Ukraine in the context of Russian invasion, this paper will look for the answers to these questions.


Doctoral Research Fellow
,
University of Oslo
Professor
,
Nizhyn Mykola Gogol State University
Postdoctoral Researcher
,
Hebrew University of Jerusalem – Sociology-Anthropology
Lecturer
,
Department of History and Contemporary Studies, Södertörn University, Sweden
 Yuliya Yurchuk
Lecturer
,
Department of History and Contemporary Studies, Södertörn University, Sweden
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