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Workshop: "History goes Pop"? On the Popularization of the Past in Eastern European Memory Cultures

10.12.2019 - 12.12.2019
History Goes Pop?

History Goes Pop?

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 at continuing this approach by analyzing such representations from a comparative perspective focusing on examples from Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian cultures of collective memory. We are interested in the role of globalized popular media in the post-Soviet space and the way in which they relate to national forms of remembrance and state policies of historiography: 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. 

Ein Workshop der ZfL-ProjekteAffektiver RealismusHistorisieren heute (2019/2020)

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.)


Tuesday, 10/12/2019


Opening of the Conference (Closed Meeting)


Wednesday, 11/12/2019

 9.30 Welcome


Panel I: Transforming the Soviet Past: Popular Photographic and Cinematic Devices, Moderation: Erik Martin (EUV, Frankfurt Oder)

Olga Shparaga (ECLAB, Minsk): From External to Inner Contradictions. The Soviet Past in Belarusian Photography

Yaraslava Ananka (Universität Innsbruck): Catherine the Little and Crimean Puppets. From Vandalism to Voodoo in Ukrainian Popular Culture



Panel II: Reinventing the Soviet Subject: Audio-visual Representations of Collective Belongings, Moderation Nina Frieß (ZOiS, Berlin)

Оlga Romanova (ECLAB, Minsk): Deconstructing the "Soviet Man" in Belarussian Films of the Perestroika Period and the Early 1990s (in Russian)

Matthias Schwartz (ZfL/ FU Berlin): Reconstructing the "Soviet People". Entertaining History Narratives in the TV Series "Sluga Naroda"



Keynote Lecture

Moderation: Matthias Schwartz (ZfL / FU, Berlin)

Jerome De Groot (University of Manchester): "Do You Ever Think how Different Life Could Be if You Could Change One Thing?". Experimental and Counterfactual Historical Fictions (via Skype)


Panel III: Narrating Violence: Imagined and Actual War Stories in Popular Fiction, Moderation: Clemens Günther (FU, Berlin)

Marina Galina (Novy Mir Magazine, Moscow): Speculative Military Fiction in Post-Soviet Russian Literature. Themes and Tendencies (2000-2014)

Tanya Zaharchenko (University of Oslo): Reading the Wound. Trauma and War Literature in Ukraine



Panel Discussion / Book Presentation (in German/Russian), Moderation: Matthias Schwartz (ZfL / FU, Berlin)

Sirens of War. Populism, Politics of History and the Ukrainian-Russian Conflict

with Roman Dubasevych (Greifswald), Vakhtang Kebuladze (Kyiv), Igor Sid (Moscow)

Venue: Europa-Universität Viadrina, Senatssaal (Raum 109), Große Scharrnstraße 59, 15230 Frankfurt (Oder)


Thursday, 12/12/2019


Panel IV: Post-Soviet Identity Formations: Strategies of Appropriating History, Moderation: Nikolai Okunew (ZZF, Potsdam)

Aleksey Bratochkin (ECLAB, Minsk): "Our history": How Belorusian History and Identity Became Part of the Global "Experience Economy"

Karin Reichenbach (Universität Leipzig): Slavic Myth and Rright-Wing Extremism in Eastern European Popular Cultures of History



Panel V: Mainstream Sites of Memory: Consuming and Occupying Past Events, Moderation: Bodo Mrozek (ZZF, Potsdam)

Stephan Krause (GWZO, Leipzig): "What Was Outside?" Popular Film(hi)stories of 1956 in Hungary

Oleksandr Zabirko (Universität Bochum): Fictionalized Eurasianism: Lev Gumilev's Ideas of History in Popular Russian Literature after 2000.


Moderation: Nina Weller

Roman Dubasevych (Greifswald): Mummified Subversion. Reconstructions of Soviet Rock Underground in Contemporary Russian Cinema


15.30-16.00 Concluding Remarks: Matthias Schwartz, Nina Weller

Zeit & Ort

10.12.2019 - 12.12.2019

Europa-Universität Viadrina,
Europaplatz 1,
15230 Frankfurt (Oder),
Gräfin-Dönhoff-Gebäude, R. 05