Under the Spell of Current Politics: EUSTORY Annual Network Meeting 2022

Tatiana Zhurzhenko, keynote speaker at EUSTORY Annual Network Meeting 2022 | Photo: ZOiS
Tatiana Zhurzhenko, keynote speaker at EUSTORY Annual Network Meeting 2022 | Photo: ZOiS

Since the Russian military attack on Ukraine, the relevance of history and its (mis-)use in contemporary politics has become more apparent than ever. The EUSTORY Annual Network Meeting 2022 therefore started with a keynote by Ukrainian political scientist Tatiana Zhurzhenko. In her talk she introduced the concept of memory wars and shed light on the Russian weaponisation of memory and history that is used to legitimise the ongoing war in Ukraine. Zhurzhenko stressed the danger that arises if the war in Ukraine is understood as a mere continuation of ongoing Russian memory wars. A short synopsis of Tatiana Zhurzhenko’s talk can be found online (see link below).

Building upon the theme of memory politics in Russia, EUSTORY colleague and co-founder of the oldest Russian NGO MEMORIAL Society, Irina Sherbakova, provided the participants with insights into the liquidation of the Russian NGO Memorial International and future perspectives for the continuation of a critical review of the history of political repressions in Russian history.

Later, the EUSTORY Network Members engaged in a fruitful exchange of best practice examples and current issues in the national history competitions, together with colleagues from the competition project in Ukraine who try to continue their work under the conditions of the current war in their country. The group discussed impacts of the war in Europe on their countries and activities and worked on solutions for additional difficulties they identified. In particular, the group shared experiences from different countries how the work of NGOs is increasingly hindered by political jurisdiction, assessed challenges caused by the pandemic, and discussed strategies how to reach out to a new generation of tutors in the different national competition projects. Especially plans by the Polish KARTA Centre to initiate a safe space for dialogue among people from Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia in Warsaw stood out in its intention to tackle current political developments and to foster an international community and cross-border understanding.

Some EUSTORY Colleagues presented new developments and initiatives such as a new digital programme to address contested history narratives and an academic study on the narratives used by students in the Georgian History Competition. The network members hope for additional physical workshops during the course of 2022 to continue their intense collaboration and leading the way into the future of the EUSTORY Network.

Read the summary of Tatiana Zhurzhenko’s keynote speech here.

More details of the EUSTORY Annual Network Meeting Programme can be found here (PDF).

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