Heroes and Villains

Creating National History in Contemporary Ukraine
out of print
$32.95 / €27.95 / £23.95
Publication date: 
376 pages

Certain to engender debate in the media, especially in Ukraine itself, as well as the academic community. Using a wide selection of newspapers, journals, monographs, and school textbooks from different regions of the country, the book examines the sensitive issue of the changing perspectives – often shifting 180 degrees – on several events discussed in the new narratives of the Stalin years published in the Ukraine since the late Gorbachev period until 2005. These events were pivotal to Ukrainian history in the 20th century, including the Famine of 1932–33 and Ukrainian insurgency during the war years.

This latter period is particularly disputed, and analyzed with regard to the roles of the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) during and after the war. Were these organizations "freedom fighters" or "collaborators"? To what extent are they the architects of the modern independent state?

Chapter 1: Independent Ukraine Reviews the Past 
Chapter 2: The Famine of 1932-33 
Chapter 3: The OUN, 1929-1943 
Chapter 4: Making Heroes: the Early Days of OUN-UPA 
Chapter 5: UPA's Conflict with the Red Army and Soviet Security Forces 
Chapter 6: The Ukrainian-Polish Conflict 
Chapter 7: Writing New History in Ukraine 
Chapter 8: Assessments 

"Nation-building in Ukraine is far from complete, and it seems unlikely that the population from the southern and eastern regions of the country will ever fully internalise the Ukrainian national idea, as it is ingrained in Western Ukraine. Historians can make a vital contribution to the promotion of a common idea of national identity. As this book shows, Ukrainian historians have often strayed too far from an objective reading of history by seeking to maximally distance themselves from Soviet presentations and by allowing ideological purposes to infect their scholarly effort. Probably, these factors are part of the explanation of why the national idea has not caught on with large parts of the population. Marples’ book is an interesting case study of what happens to the discipline of history when it is suddenly set the formidable task of rewriting history and becomes inseparable from political intrigue."
"Durch die Unabhängigkeit von 1991 bestehe in der Ukraine die Notwendigkeit, eine neue nationale Geschichte zu konstruieren, die die bisherige sowjetische Geschichtsinterpretation ablösen könne, und die trotz regionaler, generationeller und ethnischer Unterschiede von der ganzer Bevölkerung der Ukraine akzeptiert werden könne. Marples hat sich zur Aufgabe gesetzt, diesen Prozess der Diskussion und Neukonstruktion einer (oder mehrerer) neuer nationaler Geschichten anhand zweier Grossthemen nachzuzeichnen."
"The strength of Marples's book lies in its ability to survey a range of discourses that clash and intelock at various points. He establishes the ambivalent attitude in the contemporary discourse to these crucial historical events and shows how the debate has evolved. With the opening of archives in Ukraine to researchers and a greater familiarity with Western and 'diaspora' interpretations, Soviet mythology has been gradually jettisoned, but a competing orthodoxy has not been established. Marples's book provides a service to the scholarly community by summarizing key texts and arguments and by providing as balanced and dispassionate an exposition of the topic as one is likely to find."
"Marples erklärt in seiner Monographie wie nach dem Zerfall ders Sowjetunion und der Entstehung des semipräsidialen Republik die sowjetisch-ukrainische Geschichte zu einer national-ukrainischen Geschichte umgedeutet wurde und welche Vielfalt an geschichtpolitischen Problemen dies aufwarf: 'Die Lehrer des Marxismus-Lininismus sind auf einmal zu Lehrern der ukrainischen Nationalgeschichte geowrden."
"This excellent book fills a longstanding void in literature on the politics of memory in Eastern Europe. Professor Marples has produced an innovative and courageous study of how postcommunist Ukraine is rewriting its Stalinist and wartime past by gradually but inconsistently substituting Soviet models with nationalist interpretations. Grounded in an attentive reading of Ukrainian scholarship and journalism from the last two decades, this book offers a balanced take on such sensitive issues as the Great Famine of 1932-33 and the role of the Ukrainian nationalist insurgents during World War II. Instead of taking sides in the passionate debates on these subjects, Marples analyzes the debates themselves as discursive sites where a new national history is being forged. Clearly written and well argued, this study will make a major impact both within and beyond academia."
"David Marples has offered us an unusual book. Intrigued by the heavy reliance on history to craft a sense of national indentity in post-Soviet Ukraine, Marples sets out to explore the various historical narratives of the Ukrainian experience of Soviet rule. He evaluates these competing narratives in terms of their potential to shape collective memories and inform perceptions of a common historical experience that could provide the cultural underpinnings of the political project of nation building."