The Burden of the Past: History, Memory, and Identity in Contemporary Ukraine
(Indiana UP, 2020), edited by Anna Wylegała and Małgorzata Głowacka-Grajper, (Indiana University Press, 2020) is an important contribution in the field of memory studies. The volume draws attention to Eastern Europe as a territory of complex memory clusters. The significance of the publication is amplified by the fact that the contributors zero in on a variety of the narratives about the past that circulate in and around Ukraine. Consisting of the articles that explore episodes, which are usually connected with the narratives that today are traditionally described as contested, the volume creates space for the discussion of multiple and pluralistic visions of the past. The past in a number of countries of today’s Eastern Europe, and in Ukraine in particular, is still marked with burdening silences: Soviet strategies of suppressing narratives that deviated from the central ideological line of the communist party caused deeply rooted traumatic experiences. In spite of gaining its independence almost 30 years ago, Ukraine did not rush into the exploration of silenced pasts. Ironically, it was another tragic event of 2014 that triggered in Ukraine some sort of a boom in the field of memory studies in particular. Featuring a diversity of conflicting and controversial topics that invite the readers to delve into the history of Ukraine and its complex relations with collective and cultural memory, The Burden of the Past: History, Memory, and Identity in Contemporary Ukraine
attempts to keep multiple memories and narratives open and available, maintaining memorial openness as one of the principles for a democratic development of the country.