Center for Urban History, Lviv (Ukraine)
E-Mail: s.dyak [at] lvivcenter.org
Photo: Bohdan Yemets
Heritage Infrastructures: Rethinking Late Socialist and Post-Socialist Legacies in Recent War Escalation Context
The Second World War and its aftermath marked a radical split between place and society, especially in areas where borders were redrawn by postwar peace treaties, populations were unmixed by displacement, and new Soviet or socialist systems were established. In my research project I look at the city known as Lwów, לעמבערג, Lviv, Lemberg and Lvov, which emerged from the war and occupation with more than 90% undestroyed buildings and more than 90% loss of its prewar inhabitants to elucidate two points. First, how the importance of the pre-Soviet urban fabric in the ambitious project of moving the city spatially and temporally into the Soviet realm. Second, to highlight how in this process of making the pre-Soviet urban fabric a part of Soviet present and future emerged heritage infrastructure critical for understating post-socialist heritage transformation. Looking at this case can help challenge and nuance the established narrative of critical examination of heritage discourse in the West in relation colonial exploitation and injustices and ask what Eastern European perspective can brings to conversation on contemporary heritage reconceptualization within critical heritage studies.
This project will suggest that by looking at Eastern European heritage infrastructure and practices offers a way of revisiting global geographies of heritage largely defined by tensions between “global West” and “global South.” Recent events of full-scale Russian invasion and war in Ukraine elucidated among other things lasting legacies of heritage infrastructure, which can be seen as critically important in providing urgent measure and emergency activities in protecting heritage objects. However underfinanced, there are institutions and experts who can partner with international organizations, initiatives and foundations to react to destructions and threats brought by war.
Sofia Dyak is a director of the Center for Urban History, a research and public history institution in Lviv, Ukraine. She received her MA from the Central European University (Budapest) and PhD at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw). Dr. Dyak was a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, the Historical Dialogue and Accountability Program at Columbia University and the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian-Jewish Encounter initiative and academic council of the Center for Historical Research of Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Her research interests include post-war history of border cities, heritage practices and urban planning in socialist cities and their legacies, as well as public history in urban contexts. She is also a curator of exhibition and educational projects related to urban history and rethinking the past. In 2019-2022 she is a senior research fellow at the research project “Legacies of Communism” led by the Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam.
During her stay at ZZF Potsdam Sofia Dyak researches in Dep. I: Communism and Society.