Voices from Ukraine VII: Weaponizing History. The Role of Memory in the Russian War against Ukraine

Russia’s war in Ukraine is at its core also about re-framing and re-inventing history. While Russia tries to re-establish its former strength based on glorifying the Soviet Union, Ukraine has to deal with an ambivalent heritage of both pre-communist and communist histories. Since Ukraine’s independence, commemorating Soviet history has been part of the development of a modern Ukrainian identity both in integrating and boundary-drawing approaches. Since Euromaidan, a more critical approach of remembrance, including a plurality of artistic confrontations with history, has found its place in the Ukrainian society. However, Ukraine’s Soviet, Jewish, resistance, nation-building, independence and other aspects of memory and remembrance are contested, conflictual, and they are finally heavily distorted by Russia in order to seek legitimation for the war. We will discuss memory culture and memory politics in Ukraine, inter alia focusing on World War II, Soviet (Des-)Integration and Ukraine’s Jewish heritage, including holocaust memory such as Babyn Jar.

Anna Kokoba – communication and reputation management expert with experience in business, educational, cultural and national memory projects. Currently she works as Marketing Communication Director at Kyiv School of Economics where she is engaging in cultural and scientific diplomacy projects.

Nataliya Gumenyuk – a well-known Ukrainian journalist, author, documentary filmmaker specializing in foreign affairs and conflict reporting. She is the founder and CEO of the Public Interest Journalism Lab. Nataliya is the author of several documentaries and books, including The Lost Island: Tales From The Occupied Crimea.

You are cordially invited to participate in the online event. After registration you will receive an access link.

The series “Voices from Ukraine – Writing and Researching in War: Dialogue with Scholars from and in Ukraine” takes place on Thursdays at lunchtime. VOICES FROM UKRAINE presents Ukrainian analyses and perspectives on the war. We discuss the current situation with academics in Ukraine and listen to their evaluation of how Ukraine can move forward. At the Viadrina, we offer our colleagues in Ukraine a platform to be heard – in Germany, in Europe. Streams of the previous events can be found here.

The series of events is a cooperation of Viadrina Institut für Europa-Studien (IFES) and the project Ukraine Calling at European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder).

Date: May 5, 2022