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The Making Of The Ukrainian Collective Memory: The Contemporary Revival Of The Cossacks

689 words - 3 pages

“A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul or spiritual principle. One lies in the past, one in the present. One is the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories; the other is present- day consent, the desire to live together, the will to perpetuate the value of the heritage that one has received in an undivided form... Of all cults, that of the ancestors is the most legitimate, for the ancestors have made us what we are. A heroic past, great men, glory (by which I understand genuine glory), this is the social capital upon which one bases a national idea.” (Renan)
In the age of nations, the consolidation of national unity appears as the urgent task of a new born independent state . In facing this task, the formation both of collective historical memory and national myths help forging unity across the division of multiple memories and myths, which was left by prior periods of rule. Then, a sovereignty aspiring ethnic group needs to articulate and forge a myth of descent and conforming memory of past events against its challengers . Articulated roots in the past and continuous genealogy, while confirming the distinctive nature of the aspiring nation, claim a well established conviction on ethnic ancestry defined as a basis for assumed common history.
This text firstly will position the Cossacks , as a tool of constructing a collective memory. Second, I tried to offer a rationale for further research by juxtaposing existent/non-existent scholarship and the data that my fieldwork produced. Third, I draw conclusions from the field data to hypothesize that a peculiar narrative of Cossack past is constructed in public realm, and that it is communicated to masses in a fashion to combine historical data, folkloric practices and ethnic symbolism. Fourth, I place the argument in a hypothetical frame to argue that utilization of Cossacks as a source of collective memory is a product of a political agenda set by Victor Yuschenko, and I further will argue that without comprehension of this political agenda one cannot...

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