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History, Memory and Nation Building in the Post-Soviet Colonial Space

  • Taras Kuzio

The disintegration of the Soviet Union in December 1991 led to the de-colonization of the world's last remaining empire. Taking this into account, this article seeks to argue two points. Firstly, many of the imperial policies imposed by the imperial core in the Soviet empire were similar in nature to those imposed by imperial powers in Ireland, Africa, and Asia. Secondly, the nation and state building policies of the post-Soviet colonial states are therefore similar to those adopted in many other post-colonial states because they also seek to remove some—or all—of the inherited colonial legacies. A central aspect of overcoming this legacy is re-claiming the past from the framework imposed by the former imperial core and thereby creating, or reviving, a national historiography that helps to consolidate the new national state. All states, including those traditionally defined as lying in the “civic West,” have in the past—and continue to—use national historiography, myths, and legends as a component of their national identities.

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45. Ibid, p. 173.

46. Ibid.

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56. Ibid.

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58. Literaturna Ukraiina, 6 October 1988.

59. Kul'tura i Zhyttia, 7 February and 13 March 1988.

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62. See Kuzio, Taras, Ukraine. Perestroika to Independence (London: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 9495 and 101–104.

63. Kolsto, , Political Construction Sites, p. 35. See also Kuzio, Taras, “Historiography and National Identity Among the Eastern Slavs: Towards a New Framework,” National Identities, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2001, pp. 109132.

64. Extracted from Kuchma's speech in the west Ukrainian city of L'viv on the eightieth anniversary of the Ukrainian People's Republic (UNR) of 1918 (Uriadovyi Kurier, 3 November 1998).

65. Wanner, Catherine, Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine. Post-Communist Cultural Studies (Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998), p. xxiv.

66. Ibid, p. 103.

67. Kuzio, Taras, “Ukrainians in Search of Their Identity,” RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 193, 5 October 2000.

68. See Kuzio, Taras, “Borders, Symbolism and Nation-State Building: Ukraine and Russia,” Geopolitics and International Boundaries, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1997, pp. 3656; and Kuzio, Taras, “Russia Continues to Hold Up Border Demarcation with Ukraine,” RFE/RL Newsline, 30 October 2001.

69. See chapter 9, “History, Myths and Symbols” in Kuzio, , Ukraine. State and Nation Building, pp. 198229.

70. Quoted from L. Kuchma's Preface to Mykhailo Hrushevs'kyi (Kyiv: Ukraiina, 1996).

71. Popson, Nancy, “History Textbooks in Ukraine: Introducing Children to the ‘Ukrainian Nation',” paper prepared for the annual convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities, New York, 13–15 April 2000, p. 8. Published as “The Ukrainian History Textbook: Introducing Children to the ‘Ukrainian Nation',” Nationalities Papers, Vol. 29, No. 2, 2001, pp. 325350.

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81. IFEX Action Alert, 15 July 1999.

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87. Ibid., p. 29.

88. Infotag, 11 February 1998.

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90. Ibid., p. 357.

91. Moskovskiy Komsomolets, 29 January 1998.

92. King, , “Moldovan Identity and the Politics of Pan-Romanianism,” p. 368.

93. See “The Central Asian States as Nationalizing States,” in Smith, Graham, Law, Vivien, Wilson, A., Bohr, Annette and Allworth, Edward, Nation-building in the Post-Soviet Borderlands. The Politics of National Identities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 139166.

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95. See Boudreaux, Richard, “5 Nations in Search of Identity,” Los Angeles Times, 25 December 1996.

96. Delovaya nedelya, 11 June 1998.

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98. See Kuzio, Taras, “Nationalist Riots in Kazakhstan,” Central Asian Survey, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1988, pp. 79100.

99. Michnik, Adam, “Speaking with the Kazakh President,” Transitions, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1997, p. 29.

100. See Kuzio, Taras, “Nationalising States or Nation Building: A Review of the Theoretical Literature and Empirical Evidence,” Nations and Nationalism, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2001, pp. 135154; and Kuzio, Taras, “The Myth of the Civic State: A Critical Survey of Hans Kohn's Framework for Understanding Nationalism,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1,2002, pp. 20–39.

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