Church, Memory and Nation-Building in Ukraine: Entanglements of Religious and National Identities on the crossroads of cultural memory (1991-2022)

Lecture format: on site + online.
Room: 2R-EG-07 (lecture hall of the Institute for Eastern European History).
Street address: Spitalgasse 2,  Campus of the University of Vienna, Hof 3.

Churches are often overlooked in the studies of memory; religious actors draw significantly less scholarly attention than the secular actors. The study faces these imbalances and approaches churches as memory actors which are intensively engaged in the formation of memory culture that significantly contributes to re-shaping and re-negotiating of group identities. By analysing the official discourses on the past as developed by the main Churches in Ukraine from the collapse of the Soviet Union to today, the author argues that each Church uses the past in attempts to position itself as the ‘patrimonial Church’, historically inherited and historically justified church that serves to Ukrainian people. On the examples of several case studies based on the events ranging from the commemorations of the Christianization of the Kyivan Rus up to the Churches’ responses to the ongoing war, the author will demonstrate that religion and religious actors play one of the central roles in memory work. Churches not only engage in immediate needs of commemorating the fallen soldiers, for instance, but also define how the war will be remembered in the future. More generally, the paper addresses two entangled processes of nation- and church-building and traces how collective identities and collective memories are re-shaped and re-negotiated under the influences of religious forces.

Yuliya Yurchuk is a Senior Lecturer of History at Södertörn University, Sweden. She specializes in memory studies, history of religion, history of knowledge, and the study of nationalism in East European countries. She is the author of the book Reordering of Meaningful Worlds: Memory of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in Post-Soviet Ukraine (Acta 2014) and one of the editors of “Memory and Religion from a Postsecular Perspective” (Routledge, 2022, co-edited with Zuzanna Bogumil).  Her articles have appeared in Memory Studies, Nationalities Papers, Europe-Asia Studies, Nordisk Østforum, Baltic Worlds, Ukraina Moderna, etcIn 2022 Yurchuk was granted funding by the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies for her research project "From Sweden with Love: Circulation and interpretation of Ellen Key’s ideas about sexuality, love, motherhood, and education in the late Russian Empire and the early Soviet Union (1890-1930s)". She will be working on the project from 2023 to 2026.

Registration is requested only from those guests who would like to be connected via Zoom. Please feel free to visit the seminar without registration if you plan to take part live.