Conflict, Violence and Memory TFDC 2.16
Jul 07, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230707T1100 20230707T1230 Europe/London 9.13. Memory Perspectives on the Russian War on Ukraine TFDC 2.16 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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Enhancing social cohesion in societies with conflicting paradigms of historical memory: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine impact on collective memory in Estonia
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
The paper focuses on the Ukraine war's impact on providing the cohesive function of collective memory in Estonian society. The hypothesis presumes that public reflection on current events of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is interrelated with the collective memory paradigms existing in Estonia and may demonstrate the actual impact of the memory policy on social cohesion between different societal groups. The present official collective memory paradigm in Estonia aims to integrate certain social groups/minorities based on the common narrative of the past, focusing on the condemnation of the 'Soviet occupation and the regime´s crimes. Thus, the common 'correct' vision of the past is supposed to substitute the paradigm that gradually existed in the Soviet period, which still significantly impacted certain social groups, creating additional barriers to their integration into modern Estonian society. Active promotion of revisionism of the Soviet past by Russia and even utilization of it as a basis for military aggression against Ukraine can be considered a challenge to memory paradigms promoted in post-communist countries, including Estonia, given that the Russian approach to the Soviet past may influence certain societal groups there. The cohesion via 'collective memory' promoted in such countries may deteriorate in case the target societal groups are not sufficiently involved in the policy formation, being more affected by the Russian narrative. In contrast, an efficient and inclusive 'memory policy' is expected to motivate them to find common ground with the rest of Estonian society. This study will make a theoretical contribution to theoretical approaches addressing the cohesive function of collective memory, namely how collective memory might either enhance social cohesion or, in cases where it is carried out without public participation or via propagandistic narratives, can undermine community cohesion. This will be explored based on the empirical evidence containing a nationwide survey, which is focused on the perception of the 'memory policy' promoted by the government of Estonia by non-Estonian/Russian speakers involved in common social interactions, developing policy solutions to support the integration of Russian minority groups while mitigating the risks associated with the existence of conflicting paradigms of historical memory.
Tetiana Nahirniak
Doctoral Researcher, University Of Eastern Finland
Between Shared Memory and Self-Victimization: The Russia-Ukraine War in Russian Exile Media
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
This presentation identifies strategies for shaping the collective memory of the Russia-Ukraine War elaborated by Russian exile media.
In the spring of 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia's authorities suppressed all critical discussions in the public space, including online media, which used to be the only channel of transmitting independent voices in Russia for the last decade. This led to the most dramatic exodus of journalists, bloggers, and civil rights activists in the history of post-Soviet Russia and subsequently the creation of a new public sphere outside the country through the Internet by those in exile. Today these exile media - with millions of Russian-speaking subscribers - work as powerful mnemonic actors capable of either creating free spaces for sharing traumatic experiences between people on both sides of the conflict or isolating those experiences within the Russian memory landscape.   
Using the terms "common memory" and "shared memory" coined by Avishai Margalit in The Ethics of Memory (2004), I explore how some of the exile media contribute to a shared culture of remembrance of both Ukrainians and Russians by conceptualizing the traumas of the victims and the crimes of the perpetrators, while the others tend to confine the Russian common memory about the war by victimizing Russians and ignoring the sufferings of Ukrainian victims. 
I particularly concentrate on the concept of collective guilt/responsibility discussed by Russian exile journalists and public experts, as these discussions reflect the (un)readiness of the Russian media institutions to perform as "moral mnemonic agents" (Assmann) and therefore to build up a meaningful dialog between Ukrainians and Russians based on the shared memory of the war.
I use the concepts of new media, online memory (Guan, Wang, etc.), and networked public sphere (Roberts) to define the features of the Russian exile media and their ways of creating narratives on YouTube and social networks. I argue that, despite having fled from the country, such media as Echo, Dozhd, and Novaya Gazeta continue to use a repressed language they worked out before the outbreak of the war. Although they criticize the ongoing conflict and systematically report the war crimes of the Russian armed forces, they inadvertently strengthen Russians' self-victimization and therefore provoke competitive victimhood, which deepens the rift between Russia and the rest of the world.
On the contrary, such online outlets as The Insider and Meduza invest their efforts into creating the shared memory of the war by telling the stories of Ukrainian victims (for example, publishing the diary by Polina Kovalevskaya from Mariupol) and therefore making them visible for Russians. 
I suggest that the latter strategy may help elaborate a culture of remembrance based on the commemoration of Ukrainian victims and help Russians reflect upon their moral responsibility for the outbreak of the war.
Presenters Oleg Morozov
Visiting Research Fellow, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Making memories of an unfolding war: Virtuality and the emerging assemblage of the Ukrainian Meta History: Museum of War
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
This paper aims to shed light on the ways virtuality as a mode of memory-making is deployed by Ukrainian virtual museums to shape the understandings of the unfolding Russian war against Ukraine since 2014. When it comes to virtual museums of war, issues of mediatization, remembering, and archiving take center stage. In this regard, what has been called the 'connective turn' (Hoskins 2011) or 'deep mediatization' (Couldry and Hepp 2017) has certainly widened the possibilities to engage with war. A multitude of digital spaces have transformed into sites of conflict and contestation, and thus constitute a part of today's theatres of war (cf. Ford and Hoskins 2022; Kuntsman 2010). Against this backdrop, the illegal full-scale Russian invasion in Ukraine offers a case to map how virtual museums of war are embedded in today's connective environment of humans, codes, and algorithms. In particular, I examine the ways the Meta History: Museum of War (MHMW), a virtual museum linked to the Ukrainian state, aspires to be an active, engaging, and even provoking agent in the war. What renders this case study particularly interesting are the ways and modes through which meanings are ascribed to present events turn into past. More precisely, the MHMW enacts the unfolding of the war through digital non-fungible token artworks. By considering the MHMW as an assemblage (Deleuze & Guattari 1988), this paper maps and follows the becoming of the museum, not only regarding the exhibition but the infrastructure and affordances as well. To this end, I combine new materialist approaches (Hörl and Burton 2017; Bennett 2010) with digital methods (Rogers 2019) and digital ethnography (Burrell 2016; Calindro 2017; Pink 2016). Such perspectives add insights into the production of the virtual engagement with war and the ways the museum is assembled within the connective environment. Furthermore, the paper illuminates the different modes the MHMW is deploying to reach its objectives of mediating and remembering war to repel the occupying forces, to harvest financial and moral support, but also to archive the war for future generations. Therefore, I argue that the renderings of war by the MHMW are not only a visual representation and textual narrativization of the present becoming past, but rather a way to wield influence on the events that will be exhibited and remembered in the future. All in all, the MHMW is shaping a 'prosthetic memory' (Landsberg 2004) which is to be conveyed on multiple levels - visual, emotional, technical. In the face of the multiple wounds the war is inflicting upon Ukraine, the museum seeks support for a just cause: the defense of a country under attack.
Sebastian Graf
PhD Student, Department Of History, Lund University
Approaching the ‘Traumatic Realism’ in Contemporary Ukrainian War Prose
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought a massive humanitarian and ecological catastrophe. Millions of destinies were disrupted by the extreme political violence, loss and displacement. Simultaneously, this war has influenced the rise of transnational solidarity and triggered the reconsidering of social injustice. However, the full-scale Russian aggression was preceded by the annexation of Crimea and the wars in Donbas, Syria, Georgia, Transnistria and Chechnya as well as by many other violations that were never condemned by the international political leaders. Moreover, the memory politics in both Russia and Ukraine were never aimed at working through the Soviet legacy of silencing (e. g. Etkind 2013; Assmann 2013; Kasianov 2018; Shevel 2016). These countries never experienced a process of transitional justice (e. g. Nuzov 2017; Epple 2020; Lezina 2021). Instead, memory of the Soviet period has been instrumentalized in state narratives. 

Therefore, contemporary Ukrainian writers not only bear witness to the horrors of the war but also develop counter-narratives by addressing the issues of intergenerational discontinuity and 'cultural amnesia' which influence society today. Since 2014, the developing change in Ukrainian literary process has been reflecting the need to cope with the new reality of war. Both combat (veterans, mostly those who never wrote before) as well as non-combat (civilians, volunteers, mostly those who are experienced in writing) authors use different techniques in order to comprehend the ongoing violence. First of all, this change might be approached in terms of Michael Rothbergs notion of 'traumatic realism' (2000) that combines both 'documentary' and 'anti-realistic' tendencies. On the one hand, especially in combat literature, there is a need to testify, to remember the events and the stories of the fallen friends. On the other hand, there is the ultimate incomprehensibility of this violence, a sense of estrangement. Therefore, there appear supernatural creatures that become companions of the main characters (e. g. in novels by Volodymyr Rafeyenko, Serhii Zhadan, Tamara Horikha Zernia). Moreover, the unprocessed traumatic past of Soviet terror and the Holocaust also appears in literature in a distorted form of creatures, folklore characters, and ghosts, forming the phenomenon of what Alexander Etkind calls 'magical historicism' or 'post-Soviet hauntology' (2013). Thus, in an attempt to describe this phenomenon, literary scholars might face the ambiguity between the 'impossibility of narration' (Assmann 1999) and the 'banality of evil' (Arendt 2011). However, the writing process itself might be perceived as a means of bringing the fragmented pieces back together (e. g. van der Kolk and Fisler 1995) and developing a coherent narrative. 

Nevertheless, the 'multiderectionality' of memory (Rothberg 2009) can be helpful in approaching memory in Ukraine and beyond: using the methodology of the Holocaust studies, it is possible to verbalize the impact of Donbas war, the Russian invasion and the Soviet period atrocities. In the paper, examples from combat (e. g. by Roman Zinenko, Valeria Burlakova) and non-combat (e. g. by Serhii Zhadan, Volodymyr Rafeyenko, Tamara Horikha Zernia) prose will be used to illustrate the theoretical framework.
Iryna Tarku
PhD Candidate, Graduate Centre For The Study Of Culture (University Of Giessen)
Doctoral researcher
University of Eastern Finland
Visiting Research Fellow
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
PhD Student
Department of History, Lund University
PhD Candidate
Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (University of Giessen)
 Anselma Gallinat
Reader in Social Anthropology
School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle university
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