PoSoCoMeS WG | Memory and Diverse Belongings TFDC 2.16
Jul 07, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230707T0900 20230707T1030 Europe/London 8.3. Migration, Memory, and Belonging in Post-Socialist Britain

In 2009, Chari and Verdery (2009) called on us to "think between the posts", that is, to explore the connections between post-socialism and post-colonialism and the ways in which "Cold War representations of space and time have shaped knowledge everywhere". Chari and Verdery's concept of the "post-Cold War" connects to ideas of a "global postsocialist condition" (Gille, 2010) and the exploration of the interconnectedness of East and West and North and South. More recently, scholars have explored how the concept of "post-socialism" might itself be rethought and extended temporally and spatially to incorporate places not usually associated with it. Deema Kaneff (2022) notes that migration might be a fruitful site of exploration in this context, as a route through which East and West spaces are brought together. In the context of many Western European "superdiverse" (Vertovec, 2007) and postindustrial societies, including the UK, migration is as intertwined with the legacies of post-socialism as it is bound up with those of post-colonialism. The papers in this panel pick up the call to "think between the posts" and – in diverse ways – explore Britain as a post-socialist and post-colonial space. They are connected further by a concern with how migrants from Central, East and Southeast Europe find representation in broader UK social and political discourse and how they negotiate collective and personal memories and a sense of belonging in the UK. The panellists and papers are associated with two funded projects hosted at the University of Birmingham and Nottingham Trent University: Post-Socialist Britain? and Antisemitism in Post-Migrant Britain. The panel will showcase the range of interdisciplinary methodologies deployed in these projects, including arts-bas ...

TFDC 2.16 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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In 2009, Chari and Verdery (2009) called on us to "think between the posts", that is, to explore the connections between post-socialism and post-colonialism and the ways in which "Cold War representations of space and time have shaped knowledge everywhere". Chari and Verdery's concept of the "post-Cold War" connects to ideas of a "global postsocialist condition" (Gille, 2010) and the exploration of the interconnectedness of East and West and North and South. More recently, scholars have explored how the concept of "post-socialism" might itself be rethought and extended temporally and spatially to incorporate places not usually associated with it. Deema Kaneff (2022) notes that migration might be a fruitful site of exploration in this context, as a route through which East and West spaces are brought together. In the context of many Western European "superdiverse" (Vertovec, 2007) and postindustrial societies, including the UK, migration is as intertwined with the legacies of post-socialism as it is bound up with those of post-colonialism. The papers in this panel pick up the call to "think between the posts" and – in diverse ways – explore Britain as a post-socialist and post-colonial space. They are connected further by a concern with how migrants from Central, East and Southeast Europe find representation in broader UK social and political discourse and how they negotiate collective and personal memories and a sense of belonging in the UK. The panellists and papers are associated with two funded projects hosted at the University of Birmingham and Nottingham Trent University: Post-Socialist Britain? and Antisemitism in Post-Migrant Britain. The panel will showcase the range of interdisciplinary methodologies deployed in these projects, including arts-based ethnography, survey research, narrative interviews, and media analysis.



Professor Sara Jones (co-author: Oxana Bischin) (University of Birmingham)

Mnemonic Conviviality in Post-Socialist Britain: Entangled Memories in Urban Space

In 2007, Steven Vertovec described the UK as "superdiverse" a term that captures changes brought about by "a number of new, small and scattered, multiple-origin, transnationally connected, socio-economically differentiated and legally stratified immigrants". Superdiverse communities are characterised by multiple intersectional identities, underpinned by diverse personal, familial, and collective memories. These memories are not isolated, but might be described as "entangled" (Feindt et al., 2014). The work presented in this paper draws on the "Communities" strand of the Post-Socialist Britain? project. Here, we use an arts-based methodology to examine how migrants share their stories within the superdiverse – "post-Cold War" (Chari and Verdery, 2009) communities of which they are part. Data is collected in 4 series of 10 photography workshops; participants (drawn from across the community) are instructed in the basics of photography and asked to take photographs focused on a different "theme of the week" (e.g., "welcome/unwelcome", "my journey", "inclusion/exclusion). They are then asked to talk about their images within the group and explain why they chose the particular subject. The result is a microcosm of intracommunity dialogue in which differentiated migration histories (post-socialist, post-colonial, EU etc.) intersect, overlap and contradict one another and explore ways of "living with difference" (Gilroy, 2004) – a process we describe as "mnemonic conviviality". Oxana Bischin will provide a visual analysis of a selection of the photographs taken by workshop participants and Sara Jones will explore the dialogues and narratives they provoked.


Dr Maryna Rusanova (MSA "Scholars at Risk" Fellow, University of Birmingham) and Dr Julian Hoerner (University of Birmingham)

Holocaust Memory and Antisemitism in Postsocialist Britain

Britain saw record numbers of anti Jewish incidents in 2021 (Booth, 2022). Antisemitism is frequently linked to inadequate memorialisation of the Holocaust and education about the genocide of the European Jews as its "remedy" (Feldman, 2022). Education about and collective and cultural memories of the Holocaust are passed onto young people not only in schools or at commemorative events, they are also exchanged within the family and immediate social group. Those collective and cultural memories are not uniform; rather they vary according to different backgrounds and experiences. One especially salient factor is socialisation in a different national or cultural context. Antisemitism is often (misleadingly) identified as a phenomenon prominent within British Muslim communities (Hasan, 2022) and most research that explores the relationship between antisemitism and migration focuses on migrants from predominantly Muslim countries (Feldman and Gidley, 2018). Indeed, Britain's history of colonialism, including post colonial migration to the UK, must be part of any analysis of anti Jewish attitudes. However, Britain is not only "postcolonial", it is also "postsocialist". The expansion of the EU to the east in 2004 saw large numbers of migrants from Central, East and Southeast Europe make Britain their home and they brought their individual, cultural and collective memories with them. This is important because cultures of remembrance in relation to the Second World War and the Holocaust and manifestations of antisemitism differ significantly between Western and Eastern Europe. This paper reports the initial results of a survey exploring the relationship between understandings of the Second World War and contemporary antisemitism among Central, East and Southeast European migrants in the UK. Previous research suggests that antisemitism takes a very different shape in those countries formerly under state socialist/communist rule and that one factor at play is memory of the Holocaust (Kovacs and Fischer, 2021). This paper asks what happens to that relationship between past and present when those memories are set in a new national context in the process of migration.


Dr Charlotte Galpin and Dr Maren Rohe (University of Birmingham)

Memory and Migration in British Media Representations of Germany and Poland

In this paper, we explore the representation of German and Polish history and migration to the UK in British newspapers at key moments between 2014-2019. Using narrative analysis, we focus on the question of how representations of history and migration interact to create very different images of Poland and Germany that are shaped by post-socialist and post-war memory as well as the racial dynamics of colonialism. Polish migrants are constructed as a mass of manual workers, as victims, or as an ethnic minority. By contrast, German migrants are typically portrayed as highly skilled and easily integrated. Exceptions are racialised (black or minority ethnic) German migrants who appear as problematic. Germany is also central to stories about the so-called refugee crisis, where it is portrayed as facilitating the passage of non-white, non-European migrants to Britain. Migrants' personal and collective memories are not typically part of the narrative, which robs migrants of agency and of important parts of their identity and portrays immigration as something that can and should be controlled by Britain. "Memory" narratives of German and Polish history are told separately from the migration narratives. Both German and Polish history is narrated with a heavy focus on World War II: Germany is portrayed as perpetrator, while Poland is portrayed as victim, although there is also a narrative strand portraying Poles as WWII allies of the Brits. Narratives of the Cold War or state socialism partly portray Poles as victims who had to be freed by the Western world, this time with Russia/Soviet Union as the aggressor or agent. Thus, these memory narratives cast Germans rather than Poles in a more negative light and as more different from Brits, making a connection with the present-day migration narratives difficult. However, both migration and memory narratives both serve to construct the British as freedom fighters both historically and in the contemporary context of the EU and Brexit.


Dr Natalia Kogut and Professor Sara Jones

Unexpected Encounters: Negotiating Post Socialism as a Ukrainian in the UK

After the start of the war in Ukraine, a significant number of Ukrainian refugees came to Britain, most through the 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme that matched refugees with British hosts. They were given shelter and access to social services; however, they faced a number of unexpected challenges in their life in the UK. This paper explores those challenges in the context of Britain as a "post-Cold War" space (Chari and Verdery, 2009). In particular, it considers how "three worlds ideology" continues to impact British attitudes towards migrants and refugees from Central, East and Southeast Europe and the ways in which Ukrainians encounter life in the UK. The paper is based on narrative interviews with Ukrainians living in the UK and Kogut's own experience as a Ukrainian fleeing war. On the one hand, there is recognition among the interview participants that refugees from Ukraine have been privileged in comparison to those coming from countries once considered in the "third world", and that there is a sense of the "closeness" of the UK and Ukraine as European countries. On the other hand, interviewees report being confronted with being seen as residents of a backward "second world" country. For example, it was assumed that Ukrainians would not know how to use online services and the UK government wasted money funding private companies to support Ukrainian refugees in this aspect. British hosts appear to have little interest in the country of origin of those they invite into their homes and often limited understanding of the difference between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. In turn, the UK's sense of itself as a "first world", developed country, is frequently called into question by Ukrainian encounters with the UK's systems and services, including poor access to medical services, lack of social housing and shortage of school places. In this way, the paper shows how the echoes – or "slow memory" (Wüstenberg, 2022) of Cold War divisions – continue to structure encounters between East and West. 

Professor of Modern Languages
,
University of Birmingham
MSA Fellowship “Memory Scholars at Risk”
,
University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham
Associate Professor in German and European Politics
,
University of Birmingham
Research Fellow
,
University of Birmingham
Professor of History & Memory Studies
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Nottingham Trent University/Memory Studies Association
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