How do public spaces enter into a dialogue on the past and how are they silenced? What is symbolic space and what is its impact? The ways in which public spaces are constructed can demonstrate amnesia, thus not giving their inhabitants a chance to remember more than one historical narrative. When placed in the hands of the state, public spaces can act as a tool for the formation of a collective memory that follows "convenient" historical narratives instead of allowing for different voices to be heard.
The Holocaust happened when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, and it took a disastrous toll on the country. However, during the existence of the USSR the Holocaust was pushed to the margins of the collective memories of both the state and public spaces. Places associated with the Holocaust remained unmarked for many years, lost in space. Although this practice began slowly to be abandoned during the so-called "perestroika" era, the genocide of the Jewish community in Ukraine remained in the shadows of both the Soviet narrative of remembrance and the new Ukrainian narrative that began to take shape during the independence years. During this era, Ukraine began to build its own model of remembrance based on the principle of Ukrainocentrism, a principle that enabled the lived experiences of non-dominant groups in Ukraine, including the Jewish community, to be marginalized.
The presentation will use the symbolic space of Rivne, the city in Ukraine that has the country’s third largest number of recorded Holocaust victims, as a case study. Nataliia Ivchyk will illustrate the place of the Holocaust in Rivne’s symbolic space as a metaphor for how the Holocaust in seen in other symbolic spaces in Ukraine. The presentation will focus on the roles non-governmental organizations, including the NGO Mnemonics, founded by the presenter and her colleagues, have played in creating public spaces that change the dominant Ukrainocentrist narrative and work towards achieving a more inclusive local memory that includes the Holocaust.
This lecture has been organized in partnership with the Diamond Chair in Jewish Law and Ethics at UBC.
Nataliia Ivchyk is a Holocaust scholar active in the field of public history and memory politics. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Sciences at Rivne State University for the Humanities in her hometown of Rivne, Ukraine. Together with Maksym Gon (a history professor currently serving in the Ukrainian Army) and Petro Dolhanov, Nataliia co-founded and is a project manager of NGO Mnemonic, an organization devoted to citizenship education and the memory of the multicultural history of the Rivne region. In 2022, NGO Mnemonics was awarded the History of National Socialism prize by The Munich Documentation Center for its work in documenting the violent history of the twentieth century.
Nataliia's research examines gender and children's experience during the Holocaust as well as memory politics in Ukraine and East Central Europe. She has held a number of international fellowships. Her recent research projects include: "Disgraced Worlds: Jewish Families during the Holocaust" (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure, July 2022), "Gender and Everyday Life in Volhynia and Podolia Jewish Ghettos" (Prague Civil Society Center and Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic and the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Germany, 2021) "Life and Agony of the Jews in the Rivne Ghetto: Reconstructing Women's Experiences" (Yad Vashem, Israel, 2018) and "Ghettos in the General District of Volhynia and Podolia in Memories of Jewish Victims and Neighbors" (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2017-18). Her most recent publications include monographs titled Insulted Otherness: Ethno-Confessional Policy of the Russian Empire in Right-Bank Ukraine, 1850-1880 and The Town of Memory – the Town of Oblivion: the Palimpsests of the Memorial Landscape of Rivne (as a co-author), which addresses the gendered aspect of the symbolic space of Rivne.
To learn more about Nataliia and her residency at Green College, visit our Invited Residencies page.