Essays are selected scholarly articles published without prior peer-review process.

The Eastern policy Towards an understanding of the Polish geopolitical code

The aim of the article is to examine what is called the “Polish Eastern policy”. This concept covers certain conceptual foundations on which subsequent governments in Warsaw have tried to build their relations with their neighbors from the post-Soviet area. The topic has already been widely described and discussed. Due to the limited volume of the article, this issue will be considered mainly in the context of the example of Polish-Ukrainian relations. The starting point will be a description of the circumstances in which Poland was the first country in the world to recognize the independence of Ukraine in 1991. Then, the motives of Polish decision-makers will be characterized. This applies both to 1991 and to the way they behaved during subsequent “Ukrainian crises.” For this purpose, Colin Flint’s concept of “geopolitical code” will be used.

Essay by Michał Wawrzonek April 23, 2024

TCHAIKOVSKY’S MAZEPA IN THE RUSSO-UKRAINIAN WAR. Rescuing a cultural hero for a sovereign nation

This essay considers the myths surrounding the historical figure of Hetman Mazepa and their artistic expressions. More specifically, it compares and contrasts two recent stage versions of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Mazepa opera by theaters in Kharkiv in 2017 and Moscow in 2021, at the time of the Russian military operations on the territory of Ukraine. The desire of Ukrainian directors to return honors to the national hero is opposed by the Russian interpretation of the image of Mazepa as an archetype of a traitor. The essay shows how the Ukrainian version updated the plot and liberated the Mazepa myth from Russian and Soviet imperial distortions, thereby connecting the opera’s events with the contemporary struggle for a sovereign state. Meanwhile, underneath its modernist surface, the Russian version maintained the opera’s age-old metropolitan view of Ukraine as inferior.

Essay by Liubov Kuplevatska April 23, 2024

Prigozhin’s patriot media group just like a nesting doll

Alongside the private military company Wagner and his notorious Internet Research Agency (IRA), Yevgeny Prigozhin was associated with the Patriot Media Group (PMG) which amplified state narratives through its webpages and was registered by Roskomnadzor, the federal agency for supervision of Russian media. The Patriot Media Group was shut down after the mutiny, June 23, 2023, while most of its channels were removed or remain inactive currently. The essay provides a brief account of the Patriot Media Group’s structures, partnerships, and campaigns based on digital ethnographic observations of their web channels. The news coverage from predominantly Russian language news outlets sheds light on how the Group operated and what happened after Prigozhin’s mutiny. The essay concludes with some directions for future research on a complex and murky media production facility.

Essay by Alexandra Brankova April 23, 2024

Nation and narration

The article considers the emergence of nationalisms during the period of the downfall of socialist regimes in Eastern Europe and concentrates on the formation of Slovene nationalism through the spyglass of historic narration. The Slovene case may provide some general lessons as to how, in national narrations, history is retroactively homogenized: all significant landmarks of Slovene history that now form the core of the narrative presented at the time the major breaks with the then standards of Slovene national identity.

Essay by Mladen Dolar December 11, 2023

Placing a statue in its proper place

In 1969 the Situationist group re-installed a copy of a statue of Charles Fourier on an empty plinth at Place Clichy in Paris as a gesture of commemoration of the events in May-June 1968 in Paris. The article will discuss the event and use it in an analysis of the ongoing monument wars that took off in the summer of 2020.

Essay by Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen December 11, 2023

Post-communist memory in the negative

This essay takes the novel The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugrešić as a starting point for a discussion of why the notion of a post-Yugoslav or post-communist cultural memory seems to be a contradiction in terms. The manifest impossibility of forming a collective post-Yugoslav memory provokes a reflection on how cultural and collective memory has been used in post-communist Eastern Europe to historify the communist past, which further has served the revival of a nationalist agenda. Ugrešić offers a counter memory, if we understand the term from Foucault as something that escapes the forming of identities. Finally, I suggest the notion of negative memory, as introduced by Reinhardt Koselleck, as a more apposite term for approaching memory in the post-communist sphere and in the unfolding catastrophes of the modern world.

Essay by Tora Lane December 11, 2023

Concepts for contemporary monuments,

What concepts can we apply to understand the current wave of new monuments? In this article I suggest labeling them post-monuments, related to the commissioning body’s implied interest in what is commemorated, on the one hand, and the possibility of making amends, on the other. The concept builds on the one suggested by James Young in the early 1990’s “counter-monuments” regarding the German memorial culture of the time. I address how post-monuments can be seen as a future-oriented rectification, repair, and response.

Essay by Rebecka Katz Thor December 11, 2023

Partisan ecology in Yugoslav liberation and antifascist art

Partisan and decolonial ecology is a notion addressed by Andreas Malm and Malcom Ferdinand respectively, in their texts on the Caribbean maroon partisans – the emancipated slaves – who moved to the more mountainous parts of the islands that were still covered by dense vegetation. This concept is here taken to another historical context, that of Yugoslav partisans’ fight against the fascist occupation in the Second World War. I engage in reading an array of partisan artworks that point to fascist domination/war over nature juxtaposed to emerging solidarity among humans and animals/nature. From poems and short stories to drawings and graphic art material, the subject matter of forest as a site of resistance and political subjectivity emerges. Diverse animals, pack of wolves, birds that continue to sing despite the thorny branches, the figure of the snail as the affect and attitude of resilience – these become “comrades” in the struggle, mobilizing nature in their fight against fascism.

Essay by Gal Kirn December 11, 2023

Animating brutalism – cinematic renderings of Yugoslav monuments

The study of monuments tends to focus on human agency, in the form of political history, war history, antagonism, trauma and so on. Aesthetic qualities are often seen as superficial and fetishized qualities that belie the impact of the monument in a regional context. The rurally situated monuments of former Yugoslavia, however, must be seen through their extraordinary qualities as works of art, carrying an agency of their own. Rather than restricting the meaning of their impact, their aesthetic qualities and impact in the environment allow them to speak to us today from a new horizon.

Essay by Cecilia Sjöholm December 11, 2023

Upside down on horseback. The trickster Pippi Longstocking in the GDR

A sketch for the cover of the second East German edition to Pippi Langstrumpf (1988) showing a girl standing on her head on horseback is the starting point for this article. It was drawn by Cornelia Ellinger, only one year before the fall of the Berlin wall. The sketch becomes a starting point for a discussion of humor and materiality in the reception of Pippi in the GDR.

Essay by Lisa Källström December 11, 2023