Affective Memories. Ukrainian Culture after Euromaidan
The events of ›Euromaidan‹ impacted Ukrainian society in ways that go far beyond its direct political consequences. The so-called »revolution of dignity« that unfolded during the winter of 2013/2014, as well as the incorporation of the Crimean peninsula into the Russian Federation and the escalation of military conflict in Eastern Ukraine that followed it, polarized emotions to an extent unseen since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991. Western values were set against Russian aggression and reforms aiming toward European integration were combined with so-called decommunization laws, outlawing the use of Soviet and communist symbols. As Serhii Zhadan noted in his Luhansk diary in 2014, the conflict provoked the »demons« of politics that, in the shape of »slogans, stereotypes, fears and insults,« »control all our movements.«
Three years later, memories of the Euromaidan still provoke strong emotions, but these have gradually evolved, compounded with impatience over sluggish reforms, feelings of frustration, disappointment and lost hopes, and even anger about a revolution »betrayed«. This lecture series takes these bewildered memories as its starting point to reflect on how Euromaidan challenges our notions about Ukrainian culture. How has the political polarization it evoked impacted and continue to impact our conceptualization of socialist as well as post-socialist cultures? To what extent do these memories affect our perception and conception of Soviet Ukraine or particular aspects of it, such as the avant-garde movements of the 1920s? Which methodical approaches (from memory studies, but also postcolonial and media studies) can help us to understand the Ukrainian case better and place it in a broader, comparative perspective?
Focusing on different aspects of Ukrainian culture in past and present, and bringing together some of the leading scholars in the field, the lecture series seeks to provide a cross-disciplinary format for discussing these topical questions, whose relevance reaches beyond Ukrainian Cultural Studies.
Fig. above: Wikimedia Commons