Prisma Ukraïna
2022/ 2023

Denys Shatalov

‘That War’ and ‘This War’: The Entanglement and Interaction of the Imagination, Commemoration and Memory of World War II and the Ongoing War in Ukraine

Previous Fellowships: 2019/ 2020

Denys Shatalov obtained his PhD in History in 2016 from Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, Ukraine, with a thesis on Ukrainian Cossacks in public discourse from the second half of the 18th to the first half of the 19th century. From 2015 until 2021, Denys was a Research Fellow at the “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies and the Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine Museum; now he is an independent scholar. He has been a Prisma Ukraïna visiting fellow in 2019/20. His current research focuses on representations of WWII in Soviet memoirs published after the war. Along with his engagement in memory and memory politics studies, he also conducts research on the history of the ‘Cossack Myth’. His recent publications include “The City of the One-Eyed Cossack Rih: The Cossack Myth at the Local Level – The Case of Kryvyi Rih” (2021) and “On German Orders: The Volhynian Massacre in Soviet Partisans’ Memoirs” (2019). Denys Shatalov is a 2022/2023 non-resident Prisma Ukraïna Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien.

‘That War’ and ‘This War’: The Entanglement and Interaction of the Imagination, Commemoration and Memory of World War II and the Ongoing War in Ukraine

The majority of Ukrainians have grown up with the Soviet/post-Soviet tradition of commemorating WWII/‘The Great Patriotic War’. For decades, this topic has been a central part of the politics of memory and family history. This knowledge also formed the general image of war as a phenomenon. But since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, people experienced war directly in different roles: as soldiers, refugees, volunteers, or bystanders. How does the image of ‘that war’ overlap with the image of ‘this one’? The main aim of this project is to reveal how existing historical knowledge about WWII/ ‘The Great Patriotic War’ and its commemorative practices influence the perception, as well as the presentation and commemoration, of the current war from the Ukrainian perspective and how the experience of the current Russo-Ukrainian War influences the transformation of WWII reception and commemoration. The project incorporates two perspectives: a general all-Ukrainian context and a detailed analysis of the local views of the city of Kryvyi Rih.


»Turning Galicia to Cossackness«: The Cossack Myth in Galicia and the Formation of the Modern Ukrainian Nation in the First Half of the 19th Century

One of the foundations of modern Ukrainian identity is the so-called “Cossack myth”, which points towards the key role of the Cossacks in the history of Ukraine. This national-symbolic perception of the Cossacks is also widespread in historically non-Cossack regions, including Galicia, which was never a Cossack land, even when the Cossackdom had flourished. Still, in the collections of West-Ukrainian folk songs published in the 1830s, we can already find dozens of texts where the main figures are the Cossacks. They were also one of the main characters in the works of the first generation of Ukrainian “awakeners” of Galicia in the 1830-1840s. But, at that time, Galician Ukrainians did not yet have a reliable channel for “importing” these ideas from the Dnieper Ukraine. What was, then, the basis to these notions of the Cossacks by the Galician Ukrainians/Ruthenians? My project aims to study the ways that the “Cossack myth” was recieved in Galicia in the first half of the 19th century and the influence of this process on the formation of the modern Ukrainian nation.