Accepted paper:

The changing memory landscape of the East European provincial city: the case of Gliwice and the recovery of a multicultural past

Author:

Ewa Ochman (Manchester University)

Paper short abstract:

My paper focuses on a peripheral city, Gliwice (Poland). I investigate remembrance initiatives that relate to the German-Polish-Soviet past. I trace how the reclaiming of the commemorative space for the local – multilayered and multiethnic – war memories has altered the urban landscape in Gliwice in the last decade and what kind of functions have been assigned by the municipal authorities to the newly created/relegated/destroyed memory space during the democratic and economic transformations experienced by the city and the region.

Paper long abstract:

This paper aims to explore the role of the self-governing and recently revived East European municipality in composing narratives of historical past and in reconfiguring the urban memory landscape. The post-1989 municipal commemorative practices primarily focused on dissociation from those imposed by the communist regimes' scheme of history and on the representation of the national historical narratives of the newly liberated nation-states. This re-composing of the past was achieved by the renaming of public space, by the removal and production of monuments and by revising the list of collectively commemorated anniversaries. However, the focus of the commemorative practices has increasingly been shifting and the specificity of the urban landscape, the distinctive population make-up and the mass memory of the inhabitants of the municipality has become central to cities' remembering. This paper explores this important shift in East European public remembering. My case study focuses on a peripheral city, Gliwice, located in Upper Silesia, the historical western borderland of Poland. My investigations concentrate on the local remembrance initiatives that relate to the German-Polish-Soviet past and, more specifically, to the wartime conduct of the Red Army soldiers. I trace how the reclaiming of the commemorative space for the local - multilayered and multiethnic - war memories has altered the urban landscape in Gliwice in the last decade and what kind of functions have been assigned by the municipal authorities to the newly created/relegated/destroyed memory space during the democratic and economic transformations experienced by the city and the region.

panel W080
Diverse and shared publics: politics of entitlement and commemoration