Lviv and Chernivtsi: Two Memory Cultures at the Western Ukrainian Borderland


  • Eleonora Narvselius Lund University
  • Niklas Bernsand Lund University



Despite geographical proximity and comparable historical development since the fall of the Soviet Union, Lviv and Chernivtsi betray different approaches to commemorating the past. This might point to the existence of different cultures of memory that sustain a narrative about acceptance or rejection of ethnic diversity. But the cultures of memory in the cities also have common characteristic, namely, contemporary urbanites form their attitudes towards the past not through personal experience and family transmission of past memories but through prosthetic memory, which relies on hearsay, media, literature, popular culture and the arts. When deliberate choice comes to the fore in building various identity projects, the work of stitching together contradictory historical representations is guided not so much by path-dependent logic of collective memory as by present-day expediency and power games of different mnemonic actors. Therefore, this paper argues that the most observable trend in the cultures of memory in Lviv and Chernivtsi is pillarization, i.e., an agreement among external and internal memory entrepreneurs and marketeers that each population group is the custodian of its “own” heritage. Nevertheless, ultimately the condition of heritage envisioned in the two cities seems to be an assimilationist “incorporation-to-the-core” model, where the core consists of various versions of the Ukrainian national heritage.


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Author Biographies

Eleonora Narvselius, Lund University

Center for European Studies, Ph.D., Project researcher

Niklas Bernsand, Lund University

Center for European Studies, Ph.D. student,