Society for the Anthropology of Europe
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
The Maidan Revolution and subsequent conflict in the East has brought to the fore the tensions surrounding the memory of communism, Ukrainian nationalism and the Second World War in Ukraine. Young people from Lviv, Western Ukraine invoke the memory of the nationalist organisations of the 20th century to act towards a future free from Russian influence. They bring the past in to the present through storytelling and embodied practices such as fasting, building on received stories and memories passed down to them by their families. Some, however, claim that the celebration of Ukrainian nationalism is incompatible with the memory of the Holocaust and Nazi collaboration. How are these contested and conflicted memories reconciled in post-Maidan Ukraine?
Based on my PhD project on family memory and silences in relation to post-EuroMaidan national memory policy in Ukraine this paper reflects on three periods of ethnographic fieldwork carried out between November 2016 and July 2018 in Lviv consisting of participant observation, life history interviews, and informal interviews carried out while walking in the city. It addresses the questions: at a time of great uncertainty and change how do these young people instrumentalise the past in order to envisage their future? Are the multiple pasts present in Lviv incompatible with reconciliation and justice? To fully understand how the past is shaping post-Maidan Ukraine it is essential to interrogate how the memory of the past is being activated and embodied in the present.