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Reordering of Meaningful Worlds: Memory of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in Post-Soviet Ukraine
Södertörn University, School of Historical and Contemporary Studies, History. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES). Stockholms universitet.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian society faced a new reality. The new reality involved consolidation and transformation of collective identities. The reinvigoration of national identity led to a change in the emphasis on how the past was dealt with – many things which were regarded as negative by the Soviet regime became presented as positive in independent Ukraine. The war-time nationalist movement, represented by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), became one of the re-configured themes of history.

While most of the studies of memory of the OUN and UPA concentrated on the use of the history of the OUN and UPA by nationalist parties, this study goes beyond the analysis of such use of history and scrutinizes the meaning of this history in nation- and state-building processes in relation to memory work realized on the small-scale regional and local levels with the main focus on Rivne and Rivne oblast’. Moreover, this book focusses not only on the “producers” of memory, but also on the “consumers” of memory, the area which is largely understudied in the field of memory studies. In the book the main emphasis is put on monuments which are regarded as catalysts and symptoms of memory.

The present study showed that the OUN and UPA are used more as the metaphors of the anti-Soviet and anti-communist struggle for independence than as historical entities. This past is largely mythologized. Functioning as a myth the memory of the OUN and UPA obliterates difficult knowledge that the historical research reveals on the questionable activities and ideology of those organizations. As a result, the past of the OUN and UPA is re-imagined, re-filled with new meanings so that it is used along even with the democratic and pro-European claims in the present. It was especially well-observed during the Orange Revolution in 2004 and during the Euromaidan in 2013-2014, when the European Union’s flags were seen next to the OUN’s red-and-black flags or when the pro-European slogans were proclaimed alongside the OUN and UPA slogans.

At the same time, the results demonstrated an intricate complexity of memory work shaped by intensive dynamics of private and public, grassroots and official, local and national encounters. Although there have been attempts made by political actors to draw a direct link between the national identity, political allegiances and proposed heroic version of memory, the study showed, that such attempts did not really work. In the pluralistic context the meanings are too fluid and adherence to one version of history does not preclude adherences to other versions of history which are presented as diametrically opposite in the political sphere. As result, on the recipients’ grassroots level, the memory reveals its amalgamated characteristics.

Drawing on studies about post-colonial subjectivities and theories of remediation developed in memory studies, this book explores the changes in memory culture of contemporary Ukraine and examines the role of memory in producing new meanings under the rapidly changing conditions after the collapse of the Soviet Union up to 2014.

The book contributes to the studies of memory culture in post-Communist countries as well as to the studies of society in contemporary Ukraine.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2014. , 313 p.
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 101
Keyword [en]
Ukraine, memory, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, OUN, Ukrainian Insurgent Army, UPA, Rivne, monuments, Volhynia, historical representations, reception of history, nationalism, nation-building, state-building, commemoration, narrative analysis, Klym Savur, Taras Bul'ba-Borovet's, Hurby, Euromaidan, Orange Revolution, post-Soviet, post-colonial, reclamation, history-writing, difficult knowledge, remediation, premediation, myth, Second World War
Keyword [uk]
Організація українських націоналістів, Українська Повстанська Армія, ОУН, УПА, пам'ять, комеморація, пам'ятник, Рівне, Волинь, рецепція історії, міф, Друга світова війна
Keyword [sv]
minne, Organisationen för ukrainska nationalister, minneskulturen, myt, Ukrainska upprorsarmén, reception av monument, monument, problematisk kunskap
National Category
Research subject
Historical Studies; Baltic and East European studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25432ISBN: 978-91-87843-12-9ISBN: 978-91-7649-021-1OAI: diva2:770941
Public defence
2015-01-28, MA636, Alfred Nobels Allee 9, Huddinge/Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Available from: 2015-01-14 Created: 2014-12-11 Last updated: 2015-03-09Bibliographically approved

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Yurchuk, Yuliya
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