Mapping the Holodomor Monument Complex. Victimization, Demonization and Sacralization in the Memory Wars
Abstract In the context of the ongoing memory and history war between Ukraine, Russia and the West, and the increased politicization of history displayed in museums, this thesis seeks to identify and analyze national narratives of the Holodomor in feature films, documentaries, monuments, and museums. The historical event of the Holodomor, which is called an artificial or man-made famine, occurred in Soviet Ukraine during the years of 1932–33. There is currently a debate concerning intentionality, number of direct deaths due to hunger and the role of the perpetrators where various numbers of dead range from 3.9 million to 10 million. The study itself can be characterized as part of Eastern-European Memory Studies and applies theories by Alexander Etkind, James E. Young, Astrid Erll and Aleida and Jan Assmann among others. The thesis also includes the analysis of debates on the Internet concerning fascist aspects of the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army), which allegedly collaborated with the Nazis in the massacre of Jews and Poles during the occupation of Ukraine in the Second World War. The narratives of the Holodomor and that of nationalist war criminality during the Second World War seems to be clashing. When one narrative is brought into use in for example film, the other is used to delegitimize and to some extent demonize the group deploying it. Some of the findings show that the narratives employed in the film Bitter Harvest and the documentary Harvest of Despair are of nationalistic character and fronts the iconic number of 7–10 million. We see that the filmic depictions, and to some extent, the Holodomor Museum in Kiev are all set in an antagonistic mode of remembering, demonizing the Russian other and describing the famine as genocide against the Ukrainian people. Other findings worth noting is that of the recontextualizing of images from the 1921–22 Russian famine in Harvest of Despair. These images of famine victims, mostly children, are used as evidence for the Holodomor of 1932–33. Further analysis of the Holodomor memorial complex shows that it is a modern and visually rich experience and that its online presence is up to date. Especially the virtual tour enables visitors from all over the world to experience the museum. Transnational monuments in North America are closely connected to the complex in Kiev and the pluri-medial context of the films, monuments and museums shows their potential to become powerful memory-making media.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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