Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
E-Mail: historiansinua [at] gmail.com
City at War. Experiences and Narratives in Dnipropetrovsk, 1941–1953
The impact of the Second World War on the physical and symbolic transformation of the city of Dnipropetrovsk and the ways in which both official and local private narratives tried to make sense of the events under Nazi occupation constitute the essence of my project. The aim of my project is to reconstruct and analyze the experiences and narratives of war in Dnipropetrovsk from 1941 to 1953. The following questions are of special importance for my research: How was Dnipropetrovsk physically and symbolically transformed during the Nazi occupation and through postwar Stalinism? In what ways was postwar Stalinism different from prewar Stalinism and how did the local experiences of the occupation influence it? What was the correlation and interrelation between the official narratives of war (both Soviet and Nazi) and private perspectives as depicted in diaries and letters of the period? How was Jewish experience of the war and the Holocaust depicted in Soviet propaganda and private sources? How and why did local Jewish memory of Nazi occupation differ from the Ukrainian and Russian ones? My project is located at the crossroads of urban studies, cultural history and literary analysis.
My focus on the city of Dnipropetrovsk is a way of posing broader questions about the Second World War and the Holocaust and analyzing the answers to them in terms of an entangled and comparative history of everyday life under two different dictatorships. The local context serves not only to illustrate some general tendencies, but to highlight certain domestic specifics from the standpoint of the semiotics of culture. I am especially interested in historical contextualization and the application of critical discourse analysis to the private sources. Everyday experiences and attitudes toward power are of special importance to my research. The significant contribution of German historiography in researching everyday life in communist and Nazi dictatorships, the notions of Herrschaft and Eigen-Sinn are of great interest to my work and the research focus of the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung (ZZF) in Potsdam has triggered my interest in spending part of my fellowship there. I also plan to co-operate with the research network on psychical violence at ZZF.