Memoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) USB 2.022
Jul 07, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230707T0900 20230707T1030 Europe/London 8.14. Excavating memoryscapes USB 2.022 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
22 attendees saved this session
Splitting time: Chornobyl/Chernobyl nuclear disaster as a historical event and a legacy
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 09:00 AM - 10:30 AM (Europe/London) 2023/07/07 08:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 09:30:00 UTC
Though opinion polls suggest a decline in remembering the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, "Chernobyl" is actively present in modern Russian popular culture. Media compares other events to "Chernobyl," and more films and tv shows have been made about it in the last ten years than ever before. The decommissioned power plant was among the first objects captured by Russian forces during the invasion on 24th February 2022. This paper examines the symbolic meanings "Chernobyl" (here used in Russian transliteration) gained in modern Russian politics and their geneology.
After examining major media outlets and political speeches of state officials from 1986 until 2021, the paper identifies two forms of collective remembering of Chernobyl in Russia. The first form is "Chernobyl as a historical event": it portrays the event as spatially and temporally fixed and explains it through the lens of Cold War cultural trauma. In this frame, the primary meaning behind Chernobyl is that it made the Soviet Union lose the Cold War. The second form is "Chernobyl as a legacy." It stems from the 1990s understanding of Chernobyl as a chronic condition. The meanings of Chernobyl Legacy can be organized into three clusters: Chernobyl as a crisis of political legitimacy, Chernobyl as a global ecological crisis, and Chernobyl as a post-apocalyptic icon. The paper argues for a) the benefits of situating nuclear disasters and other disasters, more generally, as perceived through socially constructed times; b) for the separation of the "event" and "legacy" forms in collective memory studies. 

Presenters Olya Feldberg
Graduate Student, University Of Virginia
Drysfeydd y Cymoedd (*The Maze of the Valleys): Archiving and Commemorating the Industrial Crisis of the South Wales Valleys.
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
In her book Cruel Optimism, Lauren Berlant looks at unexceptional communal traumas and argues that their precarity is ordinary if not inherent in post WWII geopolitical realms. She then redefines re-occurring traumas as crises of ordinariness, instances where our exposure to structured and systemic violence becomes evident (Berlant 2011). Critical discourses of early and late modernity that discuss when and how exceptional traumas become crises of ordinariness offer us the tools to look back at South Wales Valleys as a region of industrial crises par excellence, and investigate how crises are archived and commemorated. 
The presentation looks at the South Wales Valleys and their coalmining heritage as contested and traumatic. It then explores how industrial crises are registered in collective archives and communal memorials. Geographers and trauma theorists argue that traumas' connections to the time and place of their occurrences are fragile and obscure. The presentation looks at how industrial crises are portrayed in miners' memorials across the South Wales Valleys and then dives into informal, collective, analogue and digital archives, as resources of care and hospitality (Butler 2009).
Through our unpredictable, puzzling and open-ended encounters with industrial crises, a possibility emerges to engage with histories that are no longer straightforward, affirming or referential; but with histories that arise where immediate understanding may not (Caruth 1996).  The presentation suggests that in the South Wales Valleys, formal and informal registers of industrial crises allow us to appreciate that we are implicated in each other' crises, and find shared ways to move on.
Presenters Dimitra Ntzani
Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University
Commemorative topographies: British army regiments and their memorial diasporas, c. 1880-c.1960
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
Military communities often have highly developed memory cultures, embodied in rich funds of ritual, material culture, textual and visual representation, symbolism and oral tradition that are vital to the constitution of military units both as functional and as imagined communities. These cultures intersect, in multiple ways, with the memory cultures of nations and of local communities, and also sometimes with mnemonic constructions of empire. Practices of commemoration, focusing on specific events in a military community's history, and of remembrance or memorialisation, focusing on those who have died in service, play a crucial part in building and sustaining these cultures. This conference presentation uses the ideas of commemorative topography and of memorial diaspora to explore these issues, in the specific case of British Army regiments between (roughly) the 1880s and the 1960s. For the sake of economy, the focus will be mainly on Lancashire infantry regiments. Regiments across this period developed highly complex commemorative geographies, reflecting on the one hand their increasingly strong ties to local communities and local elites in and around their Lancashire base towns (Preston, Warrington, Burnley, Blackburn) – consolidated through local war memorials, regimental chapels in local churches, the mnemonic functions of barracks, and local parades on commemorative occasions -; and on the other hand, a global diasporic spread of memorial features – graves, memorials and other commemorative objects, generated by the regiments' overseas service, both on battlefields and in different outposts of empire. Regimental magazines played an important part in sustaining consciousness of this memorial diaspora, reporting not just on the regiments' stake in the major memorial complexes of the First and Second World Wars, and on graves of the Crimean and Boer Wars, but on sundry more obscure memorials in far-flung locations often menaced by neglect of construction – cholera graveyards in India, the rediscovered grave of a former soldier murdered by brigands, memorials in Southern Irish churchyards to the victims of troopship shipwrecks, a memorial mural to dead prisoners of war discovered under the stairs at their place of imprisonment. By analysing these spatial and material as well as ritual aspects of regimental memory, the presentation will contribute to developing the neglected interfaces between memory studies and military history, imperial history and organisational studies.
Geoffrey Cubitt
Reader, Department Of History, University Of York, UK
From public oblivion to hypervisibility. Post-imperial tsar’s memoryscape in the heart of Bialowieza Premeval Forest
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC

In my presentation, I will analyse the process of creating the memoryscape of the village of Bialowieża, a Tsarists hunting residence until 1915, and is becoming increasingly "Tsarist" again over the past two decades.
After World War II the Primeval Forest of Bialowieza was divided between Belarus and Poland, and Bialowieza village found itself in Poland a few kilometers from the border. In the past, it was the site of successive royal hunting residences, and its inhabitants were engaged in various forms of protecting the forest and wild animals, and logging occupations. At the end of the XIX century tsar Aleksander III Romanov funded in Białowieża a luxurious palace estate, to which a railroad line was drawn and with telegraph connecting the residence with Warsaw and Moscow. 
In Polish the etymological core of the term "monument/listed building" - "zabytek" -  means a forgotten object, which has lost its social significance. Thus, the Polish language emphasizes the stage of moving away into the past, which precedes commemoration. Starting from this reflection, I will argue that in Bialowieza, until the extinction of the generations remembering the imperial powers which were of a special kind in this village, this forgetting was intentionally coerced by the lack of any kind of state actions. In 1970, the Local Spatial Development Plan, a detailed expert report of dozens of pages, included among Bialowieza's weaknesses "the lack of cultural objects". Despite the vigorous conservation services operating in the region since the post-war years, it was only at the same time that the first Bialowieza object - a tsarist orthodox church with a unique porcelain iconostasis - entered the register. Thus the process of officially recognizing the value of the remaining post-imperial buildings did not begin until the 1970s and only gained momentum in the 21st century. 
At present, the urban layout of Bialowieza and dozens of Tsarist-era architectural structures are under conservatorship, and many images and narratives displaying the Romanovs and their palace (destroyed during World War II, and demolished in the 1960s), are presented in public spaces of the village. Most post-imperial buildings have been restored, and some have even been reconstructed.
In my presentation, I will a) discuss key arguments about the socio-historical value of post-imperial objects in Bialowieza emerging in the main conservation and planning documents since 70. XX b) compare them with the features of textual and visual narratives about the tsarist epoch that are present in Bialowieza's public spaces today to discuss how the public memory is presented to inhabitants and tourists. 
In the period of the People's Republic of Poland, the village of Bialowieza possessing post-imperial features and a multiethnic community was an inconvenient legacy. In the final part of the presentation, I will address the question of whether, and if so how, the war started by Russia in Ukraine in 2022 affected the content of narratives describing the presence of Russian rule in the area.
Barbara Bossak-Herbst
Assistant Profesor, Faculty Of Sociology, University Of Warsaw
Senior Lecturer
Cardiff University
Department of History, University of York, UK
Assistant profesor
Faculty of Sociology, University of Warsaw
graduate student
University of Virginia
Research Fellow
German Historical Institute Warsaw
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