On 19th May 2023, the second webinar in the dMSA series of webinars: Post-Socialism, Migration and Memory in Britain and Beyond took place online. The series is a culmination point of the research project “Post-Socialist Britain?: Memory, Representation and Political Identity amongst German, Polish and Ukrainian Immigrants in the UK”, funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council. The aim of the series is to explore what happens to memories of state-socialism and of post-communist transition when its carriers move across borders, and how they grapple with the legacies of regimes in host societies with different kinds of legacies. The team behind the project decided to extend their proposal to invite speakers who deal with migration in other context, hence Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska was able to present her initial ideas on what kind of bond emerged between new Polish inhabitants of Central Pomerania and places such as formerly German cemeteries and other burial places.

The webinar focused on material culture and monuments of post-socialism, and featured three speakers who presented their research on different aspects of this topic. Anna Glew (Manchester University) spoke about Engels’ statue in Manchester and the reactions of the local Ukrainian community towards it. Oleksandra Nenko (Turku Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Turku) presented her sociosemantic analysis of contemporary material urban culture of Ukrainian cities, using the lens of decolonization. Finally, Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska examined the case of Polish settlers who cared for tombs of ancestors of expelled Germans in Central Pomerania after World War II.

Ćwiek-Rogalska presented chosen cases from her fieldwork in Central Pomerania, focusing on how the German burial places were depicted by her interviewees and what made the new inhabitants care about the former inhabitants’ graveyards. She also questioned what ideological regimes did the settlers carry with them during the post-1945 migration processes that made them project such feelings onto the foreign burial places, and to what extent their earlier experiences influenced this process. She also wondered how these memorial practices bypassed or challenged the official memory where the memories of war atrocities were projected onto “the Germans” in general.

The presentation was followed by a lively discussion among the speakers and the audience, who raised questions and comments on various issues related to the three topics presented. The webinar was very informative and engaging, as it offered diverse perspectives and insights on how material culture can be used as a source and a medium of memory. We invite you to see the recording.