Of Murder and Memory

I didn’t find who attacked my great-grandfather with an axe. But I think I learned who didn’t.

“History bleeds into the present in Tanya Zaharchenko’s investigation of her family history in Ukraine’s eastern town of Kharkiv, replete with axe-wielding criminals, chandelier-adorned mansions, and a long-unsolved assassination.” — editors’ blurb


Russian Sketch 3

One of the security guards in our building, Leonid, a lively and kindly man of Armenian descent in his late sixties, spent this whole year languishing in his desire to talk Ukrainian politics.

The Expired Time

The shelf life of rumors is longer than their expiration date. The date passes, but no one sighs with relief. Predicted events do not take place, but in expired time, where there is no past, things cannot become the past: they do not depart and die. They get stored inside the mind as if they did happen, as facts. The number of times attacks and takeovers were heralded is the number of times they occurred. — an essay by Andrei Krasniashchikh

Il Palio: a Lesson in Boundaries

After these two PhD years, by the end of Easter term, I was understandably ready for a little break – ideally, away from Slavonics, and ideally, away from memory studies in general. So when an opportunity cropped up to spend some time in Siena this summer, I jumped at the chance. And who wouldn’t?

Drobitsky Yar

As the Wehrmacht army entered Ukraine in 1941, prosecutor Maj. Alexander Maiboroda grabbed the last truck in the column of people fleeing from the oncoming soldiers. Into its open luggage compartment he helped his Jewish wife, Ethel, and their three young children – a boy and two girls.

Transformations Conference

I have just returned from a ‘Transformations Conference’ at Cardiff University, where I presented a paper called “Post-Soviet Transformations in East Ukraine: Literature and Identity” as part of the Narrating the Nation panel. Some of my strongest impressions from the conference, however, were gained beyond my own presentation – which is, perhaps, as it should be. I’ll summarize three of them here.

On Linguistic Responsibility

I am today’s aspiring scholar of memory studies; but in another thirty years, your child or grandchild might be the one plugging keywords into a future version of Google in order to see and analyze what traumatic events mattered regionally, nationally and globally in 2011. As she forms an inner image of the world we once lived in, what would you want her to type into that search field?


If you stop on that bridge and let the last echoes of someone’s midnight stilettos fade away into the winter air, you begin to slip imperceptibly into a nameless, solitary, still space between the pages of time, filled with voices from the past and faces from the future.