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Spring 2024


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New in the Princeton University Press Ideas Blog
Ukraine’s Memorials: An Essay by Andrew Shanken

In an essay for the Princeton University Press Ideas Blog, Andrew Shanken writes about Ukraine ‘s memorials and some of the thinking around monuments in his recent book, The Everyday Life of Memorials. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full piece. An excerpt appears below:

“One of the curiosities of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is how, even amid the deprivations of a savage war, Ukrainians have turned their attention to destroying or de-Russifying Soviet monuments and protecting their own. Both urges—to erase symbols of Soviet triumphalism and to salvage their own monuments—run parallel to their effort to thwart Russia’s triumph. Outsiders may view this as an extravagance in wartime, a misguided emphasis on culture when survival itself—both of people’s lives and their nation—is threatened. With the future of Europe hanging in the balance, if not also existential issues of democracy’s fate, it is easy to sympathize with this view. Oil, machines, and manpower are scarce, yet there they are in Kyiv pulling down a ridiculously gigantic monument, one that must have seemed increasingly outdated and anomalous since the fall of the USSR. What good is all this fuss over monuments if nationhood is lost? And if Soviet monuments are patently absurd, why do they need to come down and why would Ukrainian ones be any better?”