10 Dec 2019 – 12 Dec 2019

“History goes Pop”? On the Popularization of the Past in the Memory Cultures of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine

Venue: European University Viadrina Frankfurt O.
Organized by Nina Weller (EUV Frankfurt O.), Matthias Schwartz (FU Berlin/ZfL)

In collaboration with the BMBF research project Designing the Past. Imagined History, Fiction and Memory in the Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian Cultures (Head: Nina Weller, European University Viadrina Frankfurt O.)

Popular cultural media today play an important role in the reconstruction of collective imaginations of history. Mainstream films, novels, comics, multimedia messaging apps, television series, computer games and music videos generate, revise, perpetuate, dismantle or question common notions of the past, and thus contribute to an affectively charged visualization and virtualization thereof. The popularization of historical images and narratives shapes and reassembles collective memory cultures to an even greater extent than state politics, school textbooks or museum exhibitions do.

Ten years ago, a volume edited by Barbara Korte and Sylvia Paletschek titled “History Goes Pop” dealt exclusively with similar phenomena in western popular media and genres. Our workshop aims to continue this approach and analyze such representations from a comparative perspective focusing on examples from Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian memory cultures. We are interested in the role of globalized popular media in post-Soviet space and the way in which they relate to national forms of memory culture and state history policy: Do they reinforce or undermine the competition in memory politics that arose between the three countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union? In particular, we will discuss which historical events are in the center of attention and which media formats contribute the most to revising representations of the past in Eastern Europe. What strategies of dramatization, emotionalization and personalization of historical events do these media products offer, and to what extent do they manage to update older Soviet or even pre-Soviet (national) narratives and imaginations? Conversely, we need to ask what the marketing and commercialization of historical discourses suggest about a changing approach to the past in times of increasingly globalized media cultures.

The workshop will be held in English.


Fig. above: Воля 2. Український фантастичний комікс. Титульна сторінка (деталь) [The Will 2. Ukrainian fantastic comic book. Title page (detail)]. Source: