Memory and Diverse Belongings TFDC 2.14
Jul 07, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230707T1100 20230707T1230 Europe/London 9.6. Re/creating belonging in and through museums

This panel discusses museums as active agents in enabling, creating and steering remembrance and categories of identification and belonging. How do museums in post-conflict societies deal with the aftermath of ethnic conflict? How do the transformations in museums' self-definitions affect how they thematize belonging and contradictions in their exhibitions? What are the reactions and actions of museums committed to past atrocities in light of ongoing war and violence? What distinguishes museums from other mediators of memory for stakeholders seeking recognition?

Margaret Comer (Tallinn University, Estonia)New Narratives in Times of Conflict: Estonian Museum Responses to the War in UkraineSince February 24, 2022, more than 70,000 refugees from Ukraine have settled in Estonia, representing a significant proportion of the country's 1.3 million inhabitants. Official and public support for Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees have remained strong, and the heritage sector is no exception to this pattern. Many museums have added or changed interpretation, exhibits, and/or activities in response to the war, whether to educate locals about Ukraine, its history, and the war; appeal to new Ukrainian arrivals; provide support to military or aid groups in Ukraine; or foster a sense of solidarity among post-Soviet countries. Concurrently, government and public debate over the meaning and significance of Soviet-era heritage, especially war memorials, has been reignited; some museums have reassessed and reinterpreted the Soviet heritage in their collections, while others have suddenly become the new homes of memorials and other pieces of material culture that have been removed from public spaces around Estonia. This presentation explores the varied changes museums in and around Tall ...

TFDC 2.14 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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This panel discusses museums as active agents in enabling, creating and steering remembrance and categories of identification and belonging. How do museums in post-conflict societies deal with the aftermath of ethnic conflict? How do the transformations in museums' self-definitions affect how they thematize belonging and contradictions in their exhibitions? What are the reactions and actions of museums committed to past atrocities in light of ongoing war and violence? What distinguishes museums from other mediators of memory for stakeholders seeking recognition?



Margaret Comer (Tallinn University, Estonia)

New Narratives in Times of Conflict: Estonian Museum Responses to the War in Ukraine

Since February 24, 2022, more than 70,000 refugees from Ukraine have settled in Estonia, representing a significant proportion of the country's 1.3 million inhabitants. Official and public support for Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees have remained strong, and the heritage sector is no exception to this pattern. Many museums have added or changed interpretation, exhibits, and/or activities in response to the war, whether to educate locals about Ukraine, its history, and the war; appeal to new Ukrainian arrivals; provide support to military or aid groups in Ukraine; or foster a sense of solidarity among post-Soviet countries. Concurrently, government and public debate over the meaning and significance of Soviet-era heritage, especially war memorials, has been reignited; some museums have reassessed and reinterpreted the Soviet heritage in their collections, while others have suddenly become the new homes of memorials and other pieces of material culture that have been removed from public spaces around Estonia. This presentation explores the varied changes museums in and around Tallinn, Estonia, have made in response to the intensification of the Russian war in Ukraine, with a specific focus on historical museums and 'memorial museums,' as theorized by Amy Sodaro. It also explores broader patterns in terms of what changes were made and what values and objectives underlay the decisions to make such changes. The contents of new interpretations, exhibitions, and activities are analyzed both on their own terms and within the wider context of the given museum's stated mission and other interpretations; data from text panels, displays, and multimedia programming are complemented by the results of interviews carried out with curators and other museum workers. Case studies include Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom, Patarei Prison, the Estonian War Museum, and the Estonian History Museum.


Ulla Savolainen (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Interrogating Mnemonic Affordances: Negotiating Ingrian Finns' Identities, Belongings, and Memories through Multiple Media and Scales

In January 2019, Helsingin Sanomat, the main newspaper in Finland, published a feature article, "My grandmother, deported in Siberia," by journalist-activist Lea Pakkanen. Reflecting on her recent journey from Finland to Siberia, Pakkanen discusses her grandmother's past and the history of Soviet repression and displacement of the people called Ingrian Finns during Stalin's regime. One year after, in 2020, a museum exhibition, "Ingrians – The Forgotten Finns," focusing on Ingrian Finns 20th-century history and memories created by the same Lea Pakkanen, her father Santeri Pakkanen with Meeri Koutaniemi was held at the National Museum of Finland and attracted an exceptionally broad popular and media interest. Later in 2020, Lea Pakkanen published an award-winning autobiographical non-fiction book with her father. Central themes in all these works are Lea and Santeri Pakkanen's personal history as one of the 30 000–40 000 Ingrian Finnish migrants, who moved from Russia to Finland during the ethnic migration program in the 1990s and 2000s, their family's transnational history, and Ingrian Finns tragic experiences of displacement and repression more generally. By juxtaposing these different historical events and personal, familial, and collective scales of remembrance, Pakkanen's works' main message is that the alleged silence around Ingrian experiences of displacement and repression in Finland reflects a broader bias of collective memory and contemporary exclusion of Ingrians as Finns. By analyzing Lea Pakkanen's and her colleagues' work in multiple media, I will explore the affordances of different media (museum exhibition, newspaper coverage, personal non-fiction) in generating memory of Ingrian Finns' past and negotiating identities and belonging between minority and national categories. Through this analysis, I will critically examine the roles of mutual relationships between the museum, media institutions, and activist journalists in enabling, creating, and steering remembrance and categories of identification and belonging.


Rezeda Lyykorpi (a Doctoral Fellow in the International Research Training Group: Baltic Peripeties – Narratives of Reformations, Revolutions, and Catastrophes at the University of Greifswald and a student in the Doctoral Programme in Social and Cultural Encounters at the University of Eastern Finland)

Königsberg is not forgotten: Exhibiting German past in Kaliningrad museums

My project is concentrated on the memory of German Königsberg in today's Kaliningrad – Russian exclave, which is located on the Baltic Sea between (EU) member states Lithuania and Poland. Before the Kaliningrad region was founded in 1945 as a part of the Soviet Union under the Potsdam agreement, it was a part of East Prussia with its capital Königsberg and was inhabited by primarily the German population. Within the few years following the region's foundation, all the German population that remained in the area was expelled, and Soviet citizens came to settle in the newly founded oblast. Besides that, a large portion of German architecture was destroyed during and after World War II. However, Königsberg and East Prussia are far from being forgotten in Kaliningrad. German names of restaurants and shops, imitation of German architectural styles in newly constructed buildings, and practices of digging and selling Königsberg bric-a-brac in flea markets are just a few examples of Kaliningraders' profound interest in Königsberg's memory and history.

This paper will discuss different approaches to exhibiting and narrating Königsberg's memory in Kaliningrad museums. The public museum's exhibition "Prussian Moscow: Königsberg through the eyes of Russian travelers" underlines the connection between Königsberg and Russian history. This example will be contrasted with the private museum Altes Haus, which is concentrated on Königsbergers and Königsbergness without any noticeable reference to Russia. An emphasis on Königsberg's connection to Russian history in Kaliningrad museums will be discussed in conjunction with the recent inconsistent policy of de-Germanisation in the region.


Ene Kõresaar & Kirsti Jõesalu (University of Tartu, Estonia)

Past migration - present communities: re-presenting the post-WWII migration and Russophone minority in Baltic history museums

This paper investigates the role of major Baltic history museums in representing identities related to post-WWII migration within the Soviet Union. By combining the theories of transcultural and agonistic memory with the methodology of social positioning, we ask what social, cultural, and political roles and options for choices are made available to depict the Russophone population. How are they juxtaposed to other positions, and to what ends? We aim to test the possible changes in Baltic mnemonic discourses against the background of the national memory narratives, established during the post-communist turn, that externalized the Soviet regime and imagined the Baltic Russians as "Russia's fifth column" which posed a direct threat to Baltic national sovereignties. We argue that, since the post-communist turn, Baltic memory scapes have come to differ significantly in what kind of mnemonic possibilities history museums offer about imagining the role and outcome of the Soviet-time migration. While the antagonistic narrative still exists, which contains the othering of the Russophone minority, alternative modes of remembering are offered that allow humanistic and agonistic approaches to the past. Moreover, museums' responses to societal challenges have become increasingly diverse, resulting in alternative discourses on the Soviet past that complement, negotiate and comment on each other. Still, while the diversification of museological discourses on the Russophone minority can be read from the point of view of emerging agonism in the Baltic museumscape, agonistic memory mode appears as sporadic tendencies rather than complete conceptualizations in concrete museums. 

Postdoctoral Researcher
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University College London; Tallinn University
Researcher
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University of Helsinki / Department of Cultures
doctoral student
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University of Greifswald
Professor of Oral History and Memory Studies
,
University of Tartu
researcher
,
University of Tartu
Postdoctoral Researcher
,
Goethe University Frankfurt
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