Siarhei Hruntou: In the Shadow of Obelisks: Memory as Revenge and Reconciliation in Individual and Public Monuments to the Victims of the Second World War in Belarus

The project studies two strategies of memory preservation in public and individual monuments to the victims of the Second World War in Belarus. The first is based on revenge, which sows the seeds of dangerous political speculations and populism. The second proposes memory based on humanistic values, which then leads to reconciliation. The latter shows a possible path to the forgiveness and overcoming of the violent experience of the Second World War.

Siarhei Hruntou was born in Pruzhany, Belarus in 1984. He studied History and Ethnology at the Historical Department of the Belarusian State University in Minsk, obtaining his MA degree in 2007 with the thesis, “Anthropology of death in the Belarusian folk culture of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century”, and a PhD in history in 2011 with the thesis, “Semantics of the Belarusian memorial monuments in the end of 18th – beginning of the 21st century”. For the last decade, he has been conducting field research on burial grounds in Belarus, and besides this, has been working on the problems of memory representation in landscapes and commemorative practices. He published about 40 articles in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, as well as chapters in four collective volumes. He participated in various international research projects with different partners, including the Romanian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Russian Ethnography Museum in St. Petersburg. In 2017, he was awarded a “Thesaurus Poloniae” research grant by the International Cultural Centre in Krakow. Siarhei currently works as senior researcher in the Ethnology Department of the Centre for the Belarusian Culture, Language and Literature Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

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