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Between History and Memory: Cultural War in Contemporary Russian and Ukrainian Cinema

Shlikhar, Tetyana (2020) Between History and Memory: Cultural War in Contemporary Russian and Ukrainian Cinema. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Any approach to the past tailors our perception of the present, which is in turn inevitably elusive and unstable. The present is a site of contestation between memory and history, as well as a site for recounting the distant past by reflecting it through the prism of the present. The transition from the Soviet Union to independent states in 1991 triggered tensions within these newly created nation-states, with the collective and individual past being given a range of new interpretations. The connection between memory and identity obtained a renewed force. Russian ideologists have often considered Ukraine as an inalienable part of Russia; the disintegration of the Soviet Union implied only a formal separation in a common Russian worldview. Meanwhile, the new national policy of Ukraine was frequently oriented towards independence and closer cooperation with the European Union. Contrasting memories about the past contributed to the tension between the two Slavic peoples, which, paradoxically, turned out to be productive in terms of self-definition of Russians and Ukrainians.
In this context, contemporary Russian and Ukrainian historical films aim to capture a past that is immediately relevant to the needs of the ever-changing present. Three issues—the location of filmmakers’ loyalties (evident in content and technique, as well as suggested by patterns of funding and shooting location); historical emphases; and neglect of historical facts with emphasis on others—are the focus of attention in this research. The dissertation examines the ways in which historical film is used by state authorities to construct cultural identities, wherein contemporary films generate discourses that make history a site of contestation, most frequently (but not exclusively) between Ukrainian nationalism and Russian imperial ambitions. The research resides at the intersection of three fields: memory as a custodial practice, with film as a lieu de mémoire; the Russian imperial project; and the formation of specific ideologies about the shared past.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Shlikhar, Tetyanates65@pitt.edutes65
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCondee,
Committee MemberPadunov,
Committee MemberBirnbaum,
Committee MemberHalle,
Date: 16 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 July 2020
Approval Date: 16 September 2020
Submission Date: 6 July 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 199
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Slavic Languages and Literatures
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Memory studies, contested memories, shared past, Russo-Ukrainian conflict, cultural war
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 15:00
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2020 15:00


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