Nina Weller: Designing the Past: Imagined History, Fiction and Memory in the Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian Cultures

The project examines memory of World War II in literature, film and graphic novels in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine from the 1990s to the 2000s. Against  a background of memory-political controversies and new pluralistic cultures of remembrance in these countries, the project asks how new artistic mediums deal with the interaction between metanarratives of the »Great Patriotic War«, the respective national historical myths, and Western European remembrance discourses. The relationship between new forms of designing the past, memory narratives and fiction is the focal point of the project. Which motives come to the fore in the coexistence and competition of the cultures of remembrance in these three countries? Which role did the different forms of narrating and representing the contemporary remembrance of World War II, the Holocaust, and the occupation play in the rewriting, mythologizing, and re-appropriating of this history? How has memory been staged, how was history fictionalized, and how was the imaginary presence of the past reflected upon in the 1990s and 2000s? The project aims to examine the parallels and differences that emerge in popular culture in reaction to official discourses of remembrance or to alternative versions of them in the three countries. During the conference, I will discuss some representative examples from Ukrainian literature and film from the 2000s and focus on the impact of “inherited” images of violence in contemporary fiction.

Nina Weller holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the Free University (FU) of Berlin. She studied Russian and German Literature at the Humboldt University (HU) of Berlin. From 2006 to 2009, she was member of the DFG research project on Russian Post-Soviet Novels and Film, “Die nicht mehr neuen Menschen. Fiktionalisierung von Individualität im postsowjetischen russischen Film und Roman”, at the Free University of Berlin. From 2012 to 2014, she was a scientific coordinator responsible for public relations at the Faculty of Human Sciences of the University of Potsdam (UP). From 2014 to 2015 she worked at the Institute for East European Studies at the Free University of Berlin. From 2015 to 2018, Nina Weller was a postdoctoral researcher at the Graduate School for Eastern and Southeastern European Studies at the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) of Munich. In November 2018, she started a research project on memory cultures and fictionalized narratives on WWII in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine: “Designing the Past: Imagined History, Fiction and Memory in Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian Cultures” at the European University Viadrina (EUV) in Frankfurt / Oder.


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