Ukraine Heritage Spotlight: Cancelling Russian Culture

The ongoing war in Ukraine has not only caused physical damage. Russia’s continuing “special military operation” also has a cultural dimension, one which Ukraine is now having to fight against, and not just with heavy weaponry.

In this episode of Ukraine Heritage Spotlight, we are in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv to meet renowned historian and public intellectual Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak.

Hrytsak recently published a book on Ukraine which underlines the nuances of the country’s history and culture, entitled Overcoming the past: the global history of Ukraine [originally published in Ukrainian as: Подолати минуле: глобальна історія України and recently translated into Polish as: Ukraina. Wyrwać się z przeszłości by the International Cultural Centre in Kraków]. So what is the cultural state of Ukraine today and what should Ukrainian society be doing to protect its culture and heritage?
“War leads to homogenisation of the cultural space,” Hrytsak says. While Ukraine is “leaving behind” Russia’s imperial legacy, this has also meant the “cancelling” of Russian culture to a certain degree.

Hrytsak underlines that this does not mean the eradication of Russian culture, but simply taking it down from the cultural pedestal. “We talk of a ‘great’ Russian culture, but not a ‘great’ French culture, for instance,” the historian states, quipping that a statue of Balzac in Ukraine would be more suitable than one of Pushkin, for instance.

However, while Russia poses an “existential threat” to Ukraine and her culture, paradoxically it has meant that artists and thinkers are more creative than ever before.

Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak spoke to John Beauchamp and Dr Katarzyna Jagodzińska, head of the Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Kraków, at the beginning of April 2024, at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv to talk about how Europe must realise the importance of Ukraine in the European cultural landscape despite it being on the periphery.

‘Ukraine Heritage Spotlight’ is a series of podcasts on saving Ukraine’s cultural heritage from the Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Kraków.

Hosted by Dr Katarzyna Jagodzińska, Head of the Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Krakow, and John Beauchamp from Free Range Productions.

Heritage Preservation, Inclusion & Accessibility, International Cultural Relations
Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Kraków
Katarzyna Jagodzińska, John Beauchamp
War, Central and Eastern Europe, European Cultural Heritage, Heritage Protection, Awareness, Ukraine, Civil Society, Heritage destruction, Cultural Heritage Preservation, Cultural Heritage
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