IAS Fellows' Seminar by Dr Tetiana Vodotyka (Institute of History of Ukraine, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine)
Since the end of the 19th century, businesses (entrepreneurship) in Central and Eastern Europe have actively participated in commemorative practices. The means to this end were memorials, naming streets and settlements, and patronage.
The presence of entrepreneurs in public spaces and the practices of memory culture aimed to point out the subjectivity and visibility of companies and recognition of the importance of representatives of entrepreneurship as the new elite. Entrepreneurs were members of local councils, mayors and generous donators. They gained more influence, which should have been marked and acknowledged.
After 1917 the situation changed completely. Most entrepreneurs lost their property, social influence, and sometimes even life. Bolsheviks tried to ruin the whole capitalist system; they were highly motivated to destroy any fillip to the memory of their class enemies. So they renamed the streets and settlements, destroyed the monuments, and ruined everything that could remind them of the former owners and the entrepreneurial input in economic growth. During the first years of civil war and Soviet rule, all the significant changes in toponyms were done, and the monuments were destroyed.
Since the 1990s, the restored Ukrainian state has had to reinvent itself and produce new narratives. On the other hand, we see the growing role of local communities and local elites as actors in creating mnemonical practices. During the first years of the 21st century, local elites and communities willingly restored the practices of commemoration of entrepreneurs.
But which entrepreneurial figures and why was remembered? And in what way?
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