Historical Cultures in Transition: Negotiating Memory, History and Identity in the Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe
Research theme: Public History and the City: Engaging and Reflecting the Pasts

Historical Cultures in Transition: Negotiating Memory, History and Identity in the Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe

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The research focused on transformations within the historical cultures of Poland and Ukraine over the past two decades. It aimed to clarify the structure, content, and internal mechanisms that operate in the areas of historical production and cultural heritage. The project took into account the perspectives of various actors in this field: experts and institutions that create historical knowledge, media that broadcast it, education that systematically transmits it between generations, and citizens of both countries who interact with the past in different ways. The study focused on how politics in these countries use images of the past to gain public support, and legitimize or delegitimize the political order. Finally, we sought to understand the differences and similarities between the historical cultures of Poland and Ukraine in the broader comparative context of Central and Eastern Europe.

In order to study the extent of human participation in what we can call the "daily functioning of history", in 2018 we conducted representative surveys in both countries. To understand what historical canon is reflected in the school curriculum (as in one of the most important spaces where the state manifests its own attitude to the past), we analyzed textbooks and recorded focus group discussions with history teachers in eight Ukrainian and eight Polish cities and towns. In addition, we conducted expert interviews and worked with cases of historic towns – it was a kind of "laboratory" where the policies of various actors and institutions are intertwined.

An important component of the project was the study of the functioning of images from the past in the public sphere. We analyzed the media, online platforms, and public and scientific discourses that operate in both countries. Thus, the study combined multiple perspectives – from citizens’ engagement with the past of both countries to academic historical debates, from the dissemination of images of the past in the media to their instrumentalization in the political sphere. As a result, we proposed a methodology for analyzing historical culture as a whole.

The project is organized within the frame of OPUS contest of the Polish National Center of Science (UMO-2016/21/B/HS3/03415). It is conducted by Collegium Civitas in cooperation with the Institute of Political Studies Polish Academy of Science. The head of the project: dr hab. Tomasz Stryjek, prof. ISP PAN. Implementation period - 2017-2020 years. More information about this research could be found at the website.

Related publications and presentations

The Politics of Memory in Poland and Ukraine: From Reconciliation to De-Conciliation. Eds . Tomasz Stryjek, Joanna Konieczna-Sałamatin. Routledge, 2021. https://www.routledge.com/The-Politics-of-Memory-in-Poland-and-Ukraine-From-Reconciliation-to-De-Conciliation/Stryjek-Konieczna-Salamatin/p/book/9780367861728 .

Cultures of Historical Poland and Ukraine. About the sources of misunderstanding among neighbors. Red. Tomasz Stryjek, Volodymyr Sklokin. ISP PAN - Scholar, Warsaw 2021. https://scholar.com.pl/pl/glowna/4245-kultury-historyczne-polski-i-ukrainy.html The book is available in the library of the Center.

Historical discourse in the mass media. Representations of the past in the Polish and Ukrainian spheres of media. Red. Barbara Markowska. ISP PAN - CC - Scholar, Warsaw 2021. https://scholar.com.pl/pl/glowna/4237-dyskurs-historyczny-w-mediach-masowych.html The book is available in the library of the Center.

Marek Wojnar, Walka o pamięć czy instrumentalizacja historii: intelektualiści wobec polityki pamięci w III Rzeczypospolitej i na Ukrainie. ISP PAN, Warszawa 2021. https://wydawnictwo.isppan.waw.pl/produkt/walka-o-pamiec-czy-instrumentalizacja-historii-intelektualisci-wobec-polityki-pamieci-w-iii-rzeczypospolitej-i-na- ukraine/

Report on the results of a quantitative sociological survey conducted in Poland and Ukraine in 2018: in Ukrainian, Polish, English.

Related events

Historical cultures of Poland and Ukraine: about sources of (mis)understanding between neighbors


Сover Image: Opening of the photo exhibition by Tadeusz Rolke "Tomorrow Will Be Better," Eugene Chervonyi, 2016.

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