"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Burdens of Ukraine's Past and Her Memories

I am of course deeply interested in the problems of historical memory, especially among the Christians of Eastern Europe, and have often discussed on here over the years these themes of memory, identity, and historiography, often with a psychoanalytic turn.

It is, then, with great interest that I look forward to the publication of two new books, the first set to appear in July, and the other one in early 2020.

The first is from an author whom I have read profitably in the past, and to whose new book I'm greatly looking forward: Myroslav Shkandrij, Revolutionary Ukraine, 1917-2017: History’s Flashpoints and Today’s Memory Wars (Routledge, 2019), 224pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
This book examines four dramatic periods that have shaped not only Ukrainian, but also Soviet and Russian history over the last hundred years: the revolutionary struggles of 1917-20, Stalin’s "second" revolution of 1928-33, the mobilization of revolutionary nationalists during the Second World War, and the Euromaidan protests of 2013-14.
The story is told from the perspective of "insiders." It recovers the voice of Bolshevik historians who first described the 1917-21 revolution in Ukraine; citizens who were accused of nationalist conspiracies by Stalin; Galician newspapers that covered the 1933-34 famine; nationalists who fomented revolution in the 1940s; and participants in the Euromaidan protests and Revolution of 2013-14. In each case the narrative reflects current "memory wars" over these key moments in history.
The discussion of these flashpoints in history in a balanced, insightful and illuminating. It introduces recent research findings and new archival materials, and provides a guide to the heated controversies that have today focused attention scholarly and public attention on the issues of nationalism and Russian-Ukrainian relations. The Euromaidan protesters declared that "Ukraine is not Russia," but the slogan was already current in 1917. This volume describes the process that led to its reappearance in the present day.
The second is a scholarly collection I learned about from the new Indiana University Press catalogue. This collection will not be out until early 2020, but treats many of the same questions: The Burden of the Past: History, Memory, and Identity in Contemporary Ukraine, eds., Malgorzata Glowacka-Grajper and Anna Wylegala 2020

About this forthcoming work, we are told this:
In a century marked by totalitarian regimes, genocide, mass migrations, and shifting borders, the concept of memory in Eastern Europe is often synonymous with notions of trauma. In Ukraine, memory mechanisms were disrupted by political systems seeking to repress and control the past in order to form new national identities supportive of their own agendas. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, memory in Ukraine was released, creating alternate visions of the past, new national heroes, and new victims. This release of memories led to new conflicts and "memory wars."
How does the past exist in contemporary Ukraine? The works collected in The Burden of the Past focus on commemorative practices, the politics of history, and the way memory influences Ukrainian politics, identity, and culture. The works explore contemporary memory culture in Ukraine and the ways in which it is being researched and understood. Drawing on work from historians, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and political scientists, the collection represents a truly interdisciplinary approach. Taken together, the groundbreaking scholarship collected in The Burden of the Past provides insight into how memories can be warped and abused, and how this abuse can have lasting effects on a country seeking to create a hopeful future.

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