Who Owns the Crimean Past? Conflicted Heritage and Ukrainian Identities

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In the past ten years interest in the history and heritage of European regional and ethnic conflicts has grown explosively. These not only play a prominent role in collective memory, but also in political debates, cultural property protection, commemorations, and public space. The so-called Crimean Gold exhibition at the Allard Pierson museum has become stateless after the 2014 Russian ‘annexation’ of Crimea, and is actually put on trial in Amsterdam, claimed by Ukraine and four Crimean museums. Who defines the national identity of conflicted heritage? The author argues that the trial represents the new geopolitical reality of the EU’s and NATO’s eastward expansion, activated by the Euromaidan revolt and the MH17 crash, and fuelled by transnational memory wars narrated in terms of national trauma and victimhood. The question of ownership is not a legal one, but reveals the highly contested use of the past in post-communist nation building.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Critical Biographic Approach of Europe’s Past
EditorsDirk Callebaut
Place of PublicationOudenaarde
PublisherPAM Ename
Number of pages54
ISBN (Print)9789074311892
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • contested heritage
  • Crimean Gold
  • Ukraine
  • Russia
  • Geopolitics
  • competing memories
  • dissonant heritage
  • politics of identity


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