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Plenary lecture by Vitaly Chernetsky (University of Kansas, Lawrence): Multidirectional memory as challenge and promise in post-Soviet contexts: theoretical reflections and the paradoxical promise of Odessa as a case study.

Vitaly Chernetsky is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas; he has recently completed a 5-year term as the Director of the university’s Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. A native of Odessa, Ukraine, Professor Chernetsky completed his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to coming to the University of Kansas in 2013, he taught at Columbia University and at Miami University in Ohio. He is a past president of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies (2009-2018) and the current Vice President and Scholarly Secretary of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in the US.
His research interests include Russian and Ukrainian literature and culture (film, theatre, visual arts); intellectual history of Russia and Ukraine; cultural aspects of globalisation; modernist and postmodernist writing worldwide; postcolonial theory and postcolonial writing; identity and community; diasporic cultures; nationalism and ethnicity; literary and cultural theory; film and film theory; feminist theory; gender studies; LGBT studies; and language pedagogy.
Among his major publications is the monograph Mapping Postcommunist Cultures: Russia and Ukraine in the Context of Globalization (Montreal: McGill — Queen’s University Press, 2007; revised Ukrainian edition, Krytyka, 2013), the bilingual anthology of contemporary poetry Letters from Ukraine/Lysty z Ukraïny (co-edited with Hryhory Semenchuk and Yuri Izdryk; Ternopil’: Krok, 2016), and numerous articles on Ukrainian, Russian and Ukrainian-Russian writing and film. His Ukrainian-language book, Intersections and Breakthroughs: Ukrainian Literature and Cinema between the Global and the Local, is forthcoming shortly from Krytyka. He has also published numerous literary translations from Ukrainian and Russian into English, including two novels by Yuri Andrukhovych.

Multidirectional memory as challenge and promise in post-Soviet contexts:  theoretical reflections and the paradoxical promise of Odessa as a case study

Recent decades have been marked by many intense, painful discussions on memory-related topics in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Indeed, not only were these memories contested, but also, as the title of a seminal collaborative project of scholars across several European universities (led by Alexander Etkind at Cambridge from 2010 onward) suggests, we witnessed 'memory at war'. In this talk, I hope to outline a possible change of paradigm, focusing on the theoretical model offered by Michael Rothberg in his influential 2009 book Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. I believe this book and the theoretical model it proposes is yet to make the impact it deserves in the study of memory politics and practices in our region. I will consider some of the key lessons we could draw from Rothberg’s book and from the later modification of this model in his more recent monograph, The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators (2019). I conclude by considering Odessa, the city where I was born, as a promising case study for exploring and testing the productivity of Rothberg’s model in the post-Soviet/East European context.