Memory, Activism and Social Justice NUBS 3.13
Jul 05, 2023 13:30 - 15:00(Europe/London)
20230705T1330 20230705T1500 Europe/London 4.15. Memory and the responses to repressive regimes NUBS 3.13 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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Memory Wars in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Will the Mankurt Wake Up
Individual paperMemory, Activism and Social Justice 01:30 PM - 03:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 12:30:00 UTC - 2023/07/05 14:00:00 UTC
The war in Ukraine has become a catalyst for the processes of self-determination among countries, communities, and individuals across the entire post-Soviet space. Today, in Central Asian countries, the focus on self-understanding and choosing a future stems from the past, specifically from one's own cultural memory.

This memory has gradually unfolded and been restored over the past 30+ years of independence, following the collapse of the ideologized shared past along with the Soviet Union. However, we are currently witnessing its reconstruction from the perspective of Russia, the new successor empire. This ranges from "nostalgia" and aggressive propaganda to "memorial diplomacy" and new repressions.

How do the societies and political regimes of Central Asian countries react and construct their past? Will the "mankurt" wake up? This well-known metaphor, coined by writer Chingiz Aitmatov, depicts a man whose memory was taken away, manipulated, and ultimately forced him to kill his mother.
Elmira Nogoibaeva
Head , Polis Asia Analytical Center
A policy of ‘dekulakization’ and deportations from the republic: on the example of special resettlers exiled from Kyrgyzstan to Ukraine. 1930-1933
Individual paperMemory, Activism and Social Justice 02:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 13:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/05 14:30:00 UTC
In this article the author performs a study of kulaks exiled from the territory
of Kyrgyzstan to the south of Ukraine in the 1930s. The study analyzes the
evolution of the attitude of the Soviet regime towards the kulaks within the
framework of the policy of collectivization. Documents gathered during the
expedition on searching for information about kulaks from the archives of Ukraine
and Kyrgyzstan, in which the author took part, were used as a source base for the
article. Besides archival materials, oral histories gathered by the Esimde research
platform from the families and descendants of kulaks deported to Ukraine, and
open information published in the mass media were used.
A policy of dekulakization carried out in the early 1930s and deportations
implemented within this campaign are still relevant as a scientific problem. First of
all, despite this Soviet campaign of repressions being quite a very well-known part
of history, many of its aspects have not been fully and thoroughly studied so far.
In the Soviet period, dekulakization was explained as an outstanding victory
of the soviet system within the communist party’s ideology.
Moreover, the topic of deportation, which took place in the 1930s, from
Kyrgyzstan to the south of Ukraine practically hasn’t been considered by the
scientific community.
Gulzat Alagoz
Researcher, The Center Polis Asia
“Die Antwort auf Auschwitz”? Jewish Antifascists and the East German ‘Stasi’
Individual paperMemory, Activism and Social Justice 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/05 22:00:00 UTC
In 1955, a young Jewish-Danish family emigrated to the German Democratic Republic. Looking back in 2012, their youngest son would justify his collaboration with the infamous Ministry for State Security, or 'Stasi' for short, as being "the answer to Auschwitz".
 Taking this concept as a jumping off point, this paper delves into the confluence between two sets of traumatic memory, namely the legacy of the Holocaust and of state socialism in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Many commentators have contended that the small community of Jewish Holocaust survivors in the GDR were considered suspect due to the ongoing hostility between the socialist bloc and Israel as part of the Western bloc and would therefore have not been considered trustworthy enough to work for the 'Stasi'.[1] However, as part of a three year AHRC sponsored research project working in the Stasi Files Archive in Germany, I discovered that there were in fact a great many more Jewish men and women who collaborated officially and unofficially with the Stasi out of a steadfast antifascist conviction. Exploring this phenomenon enables a profitable discussion of how memory of the Holocaust and of state socialism have come to play such an important role in European collective identity and discourses of national validation. A focus on Germany's many state-mandated memorial institutions and how they have represented the Jewish experience within the GDR lends insight into political and cultural values in contemporary German remembering (and arguably wider European). Themes of social justice, institutional power, antifascism, emigration and coming to terms with dark pasts all find their place in this paper.

 [1] E.g. Jeffrey Herf, Divided Memory (Harvard University Press, 1997); Karen Hartewig, Zurückgekehrt: Jüdische Kommunisten in der DDR (Köln: Böhlau, 2000). 

Alex Brown
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University Of Liverpool
The Mass Graves in Ďáblice Cemetery in Prague as a place of memory and activism
Individual paperMemory, Activism and Social Justice 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/05 22:00:00 UTC
The main topic of my presentation is the Honorary Burial Ground of the Executed and Tortured of the 1950s in Prague Ďáblice and its transformation into a place of memory. The Ďáblice Cemetery is the second largest cemetery in Prague. It is protected as a National Cultural Monument of the Czech Republic. Apart from its unique cubist architecture, it also hides a dark corner. This long forgotten part of the cemetery served as a mass burial ground for social funerals of homeless, suicidal or premature babies between 1943 and 1961. Historian Jaroslav Čvančara argues that during the Second World War, however, it was also a secret burial ground for members of the anti-fascist resistance. After the war it was a place for the remains of executed collaborators and war crime perpetrators and, after 1948, of deceased or executed members of the anti-communist resistance. Thus, heroes and common people lie next to criminals and collaborators. This place was unknown to the public until 1989. Its multi-layered and contradictory nature has been reflected in commemorative arrangements of the mid-1990s. The former political prisoners wanted to turn the burial site into a place of memory of national importance, but at the same time the memorial contained several errors and made it rather difficult for the public to understand the entire site. In fact, it also gave rise to new myths. At the same time, controversy has accompanied the current efforts to re-make and reinterpret this memorial site or to conduct a large-scale exhumation to separate the remains of victims (heroes) and perpetrators. I therefore see the chosen topic as suitable for exploration in terms of sites of memory, the anthropology of death, the politics of memory or necropolitics, which editors Francisco Ferrándiz and Antonius C. G. M. Robben recently applied to the topic of mass graves and exhumations.
Michal Louč
Historian, The Institute For The Study Of Totalitarian Regimes
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
University of Liverpool
The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes
Polis Asia Analytical Center
The Center Polis Asia
 Susannah Eckersley
Senior Lecturer & Head of Research, Media, Culture, Heritage
Newcastle University
Postdoctoral Researcher
University College London; Tallinn University
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