Traces of oblivion

Identity, Heritage and Memory in the Wake of a Nationalistic Turn.


The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies

Project type



This interdisciplinary research project aims to investigate the role of oblivion in the construction of memory, heritage and identity, with focus on post-soviet Russian literature and on the European politics of memory, heritage and identity in regard to Poland, Estonia, Denmark and Sweden.

For the last decade the politics of memory and heritage have seen a nationalistic turn, in particular in the post-Soviet countries, but also in Sweden and Denmark. This phenomenon has mainly been treated from the viewpoint of the construction of social and cultural memory, from how the memory of the past is narrated and transmitted.

This project meets the need to conduct a critical study of how memory is understood in these discussions and not only how it is politically instrumentalized. Thereby we intend to clarify the mechanisms through which the construction of memory, heritage and identity has contributed to the formation of retrograde and proto-fascist discourses and to the activation of nationalistic discourses in relation to identity politics.

The critical point with which we will examine memory and heritage studies is the notion and experience of oblivion and the main purpose is to explore what memory has to forget in order to preserve a past and consolidate a heritage. Its central theoretical hypothesis is that memory and heritage are built on the basis of a work of oblivion and that oblivion has both a conservative potential for the past, and a transformative potential for the present, that needs to be scrutinized and clearly explained.

In order to fulfill these intentions the project gathers three scholars from different disciplines, philosophy, literary studies and archeology, respectively anchored in phenomenological hermeneutics, post-communist literary studies and critical heritage and memory studies. Hence, the project combines philosophical problems concerning the relation between memory and oblivion with research on literary texts in which the experience of oblivion is narrated in Post-soviet Russia and empirical investigation on official documents produced by the European Union regarding the politics of memory, heritage and identity in the Baltic region.

Tora Lane, Associate Professor in Comparative Literature, Research-leader at CBEES
Johan Hegardt, Associate Professor in Archaeology, Researcher

Research area / geographic area

Culture and Education Philosophy CBEES Critical and Cultural Theory Philosphy & religion Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe Baltic

Project time

2019 — 2021


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