At: 19/05/2023 3:00pm, in cooperation with: UK Arts & Humanities Research Council


Anna Glew
Oleksandra Nenko
Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska

dMSA Series of Webinars: Material culture and monuments of Post-Socialism, hosted by: Professor Sara Jones

Join us for the dMSA series of Webinars: Post-Socialism, Migration and Memory in Britain and Beyond 

What happens to memories of state-socialism and of post-communist transition when its carriers move across borders? How do individuals and communities grapple with the legacies of regimes in host societies with different kinds of legacies? As a culmination point of the research project “Post-Socialist Britain?: Memory, Representation and Political Identity amongst German, Polish and Ukrainian Immigrants in the UK (, funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council and led by Professor Sara Jones (University of Birmingham), we are organising a series of virtual webinars in May and June 2023.


Anna Glew’s doctoral research focused on the commemorative activity of ordinary people in Central Ukraine. In particular, she examined how ordinary people commemorate the victims of the Euromaidan protests (2013-2014) and the Russia-Ukraine war (covering the period from 2014 to 2021). She has an MA in English Language and World Literature from the National Pedagogical University in Poltava (Ukraine), and an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Manchester (UK).

Oleksandra Nenko holds a PhD in Sociology from Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University. She is currently collegium member of Turku Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Turku and researcher at the Landscape Studies department. Oleksandra is member of the Finnish Lab of the Horizon Project “IN SITU. Place-based innovation of cultural and creative industries in non-urban areas” (2022-2026). Oleksandra is also a visiting researcher at the University of the Arts in Helsinki. Oleksandra has worked as associate professor at the Institute for Design and Urban Studies at ITMO University in St.Petersburg (2014-2022), where she led tracks in urban planning and urban management of the MA programme, and chaired Quality of Urban Life Lab. She authors publications on the topics of urban culture, urban artistic initiatives and creative industries, subjective perception of urban space and subjective quality of urban life, participatory and emotional mapping.

Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska, PhD, works as an assistant professor at the Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw (Poland). She is the PI in ERC StG project “Recycling the German Ghosts. Resettlement Cultures in Poland, Czechia and Slovakia after 1945 (SPECTRAL RECYCLING)”. Her PhD (2017) was devoted to the changes of cultural landscape in Czech-German borderlands since 1918 until nowadays and was published as a book Zapamiętane w krajobrazie [Remembered in Landscape] (Warsaw 2017). Her academic interests are anthropology of landscape, study of material culture, expulsion of Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia after 1945. Her articles were published, among others, in “Heritage & Society”, “Journal of Historical Geography” and “East European Politics and Societies”.


Ukrainian statue of Engels in Manchester and views of Ukrainian refugees – Anna Glew

In 2017, the Berlin-based, British-born artist Phil Collins transported a 3.5 meter Soviet-era statue of Friedrich Engels from a village in Central Ukraine and permanently installed it in Manchester. Engels lived in Manchester for more than two decades in the mid-19th century, while working on his revolutionary philosophy, and currently the Soviet-era statue is the only memorial to Engels in Manchester. The statue was dismantled in Ukraine as part of the de-communisation processes, associated with the Euromaidan protests in 2013-2014 and the onset of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine in 2014. According to Ukrainian official regulations, monuments to Engels are subject to removal due to the fact that this historical figure ‘was used to promote the communist totalitarian regime’. The monument to Engels in Manchester still bears the signs of the de-communisation: we can see that it was cut in half and has some yellow and blue paint (the national colours of Ukraine). While British media covered the response of some British political groups to this monument, so far the views of the Ukrainian community in Manchester (which been an important part of the city’s life since 1940s) have not been inspected. My presentation will examine how the Ukrainian refugees who moved from Ukraine to Manchester after Russia’s large-scale aggression in 2022 view this monument. Data for this analysis will be collected through an online survey that focuses on the topic of memory of socialism and communism and takes the current war in Ukraine into account.

Decolonisation of Material Urban Culture of Ukrainian Cities: A Sociosemantic Analysis – Oleksandra Nenko

This paper addresses the decolonisation process in Ukraine through conceptual reflection of changes in urban material culture of Ukrainian cities. The wartime ruination of the cities provoked a full-scale resistance not only in military terms, but also in cultural ones, which nowadays does not only include de-sovietization, but also de-russification in general, expressed towards the material symbolic items associated with the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire accordingly. Decolonisation of urban material culture is considered here as altering the material sites and items located in city space, signifying colonisation in the eyes of the colonised. This alteration targets urban systems of communication, such as architecture, monuments, advertisement, street-art, which are transformed with new anticolonial expressive symbols. The changes occuring in Ukrainian cities are empirically illustrated and conceptualised as three possible modes of decolonisation. The first one is characterised by emptying or demolishing material sites or their parts, which results in lessening or zeroing the symbolic and mythological presence of the coloniser in urban communication systems. The second mode could be described as juxtaposing the material sign associated with the coloniser with additional symbols associated with the independence and subjectivity of the colonised. The third mode manifests itself in intensification of the national decolonial symbolism through accentuating the authentic cultural code in material cultural signs.

Sympathy for the Unfamiliar Ghosts. Why did Polish Settlers Care for Tombs of Ancestors of Expelled Germans?  – Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska

After 1945, the borders of Poland were shifted westwards. The state gained territories in the West at the expense of the Third Reich while losing lands in the East to the USRR. These territories became the “Recovered Territories”. It resulted in the expulsion of Germans and the resettlement. The settlers came from the neighboring regions, the destroyed capital city, or were “repatriates”, i.e. people who were forced to leave the Eastern territories. These activities were backed up by propaganda. The imaginary of recovery and loss in regions subjected to forced migration was to be used by the Communist government to meet the emotional needs of the settlers: they were here to recover the proto-Polish lands from the hands of Germans, collectively blamed for the atrocities of the war. Thus, not only were the German inhabitants replaced with new settlers but also the traces of German culture were to be destroyed, including cemeteries and individual tombs of the deceased Germans who died before 1945 or just before the expulsion. In fact, some of them were, but others were preserved or even cared for, also right after the settlers had come to the region. Today, the settlers or their descendants in Central Pomerania who took care of the burials, explain their reasoning behind looking after them as a result of the particular similarity between them and the buried individuals, e.g. a feature which subsequently led them to identify with the deceased German person. What ideological regimes did the settlers carry with them during the post-1945 migration processes that made them project such feelings onto the foreign burial places? To what extent their earlier experiences influenced this process? How come these memorial practices bypassed the official memory where the memories of war atrocities were projected onto “the Germans” in general? I argue that such situations, occurring in post-displacement regions, need a new explanation. I look at them through the lens of hauntology, understood as an alternative ontology, i.e. different from the usual views of what exists. Thus, I will show how hauntology and memory studies intersect, to the extent that they show how the present is permeated by the past, but also by the future, in a multitemporal entanglement in post-displacement regions of Slavic Central Europe and beyond. In such a way, the analyzed phenomenon would show the reasons for resistance developed against the twists and turns of populist post-1945 propaganda at the level of individual life choices.