MSc Masterclass 29 November 2017 -- Leninfall: Reframing the Symbols of 1917 in Ukraine

A statue of Lenin is pulled down in Kharkiv, Eastern Ukraine. (Wikipedia)

A statue of Lenin is pulled down in Kharkiv, Eastern Ukraine. (Wikipedia)

Next Wednesday sees the first special masterclass for our MSc MPPA students of 2017-18, on the topic of media, memory and Ukraine. It was the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution this month and how this is being remembered in Ukraine is very contentious. Some Ukrainians have made efforts to wipe out any physical sign that Ukraine was ever part of the USSR -- destroying signs, renaming roads, and pulling down statues of Lenin with extreme joyfulness -- also part of 'de-communization' or wiping out communism. Others object to this, feeling loyalty to Soviet symbols if not to Russia itself. Media are central to these expressions. We are delighted that Anastasya Pshenychnykh will introduce a series of recent films reflecting on how national memories become a battleground for the politics of the present. Please see the summary below.

Time: 12 noon, 29 November; Place: Boilerhouse 0-07.

Leninfall: Reframing the Symbols of 1917 in Ukraine

Anastasiya Pshenychnykh, Associate Professor, V.N. Karazin National University, Kharkiv

This seminar explores the phenomenon of de-communization as a reframing that is both strategic and inevitable in a revolution – destroying, replacing, and transferring objects symbolizing the Russian Revolution in the Ukrainian material landscape and mentality in the context of the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. The symbolic gesture of physically cleaning Ukrainian statue-pedestals of the idols of 1917, and Ukrainian streets and maps from names related to Communism, is triggered by shifts in the ideological, historical and political frame. The first monument to Lenin falls with the fall of the Soviet Union and, with each statue toppled, it turns into Lenin’s fall, or ‘Leninfall’ (in Ukrainian like autumn’s falling leaves) being an everyday event during the years of Euromaidan. This phenomenon of forgetting the past by removing and substituting symbols is widely covered in Ukrainian media, becoming a leading topic of news, TV and film documentaries (Lenin fall by O. Ovsharov, Lenin fall by S. Shymko, Decomunization.UA by DOC Emotion, War and City by D. Konovalov, 70 Streets by M. Lyzhov et al). The seminar examines Ukrainians’ perspectives on the process of removing the symbols of the Russian Revolution in search of their identity. These meanings include breaking from the common Russian past, “victory” over the previous political “regime”, and distancing from the “epoch” associated with totalitarianism and anti-humanism.

Dr. Anastasiya Pschenychnykh is part of the Crisis, Conflict and Critical Diplomacy (C3EU) project funded by the Jean Monnet Network, in collaboration with Royal Holloway, University of London and several other European universities.