Dr Uilleam Blacker
Lecturer in the Comparative Culture of Russia and Eastern Europe
- Joined UCL
- 1st Sep 2014
I am currently working on a book project focusing on the dynamics of cultural memory in cities in east-central Europe that experienced large-scale population shifts and losses as a result of the Second World War. On the one hand, the project looks at cities like Kaliningrad, Wrocław or L'viv, which were transferred from one state to another after the war, and on the other it easiness cities that lost large Jewish communities, such as Warsaw or Kyiv. The project examines the way these lost urban communities are represented in contemporary literature, film and art, as well as in commemorative culture (museums, monuments etc.), and examines how cultural representations interrelate with more official forms of remembrance. The project seeks to understand the extent to which 'other' memories are be embraced as part of local urban identity narratives through culture and commemoration.
The above project arose from research I carried out as part of the Memory at War research project, which I worked on at the University of Cambridge between 2010 and 2013. The project examined memory conflicts across eastern Europe, focusing on Poland, Russia and Ukraine. As part of the project, I co-edited the collected volume Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013), which examined the application of cultural memory theory in the context of eastern Europe. I also co-authored Remembering Katyn (Polity, 2012), which looked at how the memory of the Katyn massacres of Polish service personnel by the NKVD in 1940 has influenced cultural and politics across eastern Europe in the post-war and post-communist periods. I have also published a separate article on the is topic, focusing on Polish literary representations of the massacres.
My PhD research looked at representations of space in contemporary Ukrainian literature, investigating how contemporary Ukrainian authors depict diverse types of space - from imperial and national to urban and domestic - in order to explore national, transnational, postcolonial and gender identities.
I began studying central and eastern Europe during my undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow, where I studied Russian and Polish. After graduating, I spent two years in Kraków, including one year studying the cultures of Poland, Ukraine and Russia at the Jagiellonian University. I first came to SSEES in 2005 to study for an MA in Russian and East European Culture, and stayed on to complete my PhD, on representations of space in contemporary Ukrainian literature, in 2010.
Between 2010 and 2013, I was a postdoctoral research fellow on the 'Memory at War' project at the University of Cambridge. I subsequently spent a year at St Antony's College, Oxford, as Max Hayward postdoctoral fellow in Russian literature.
I rejoined SSEES as Lecturer in Comparative Russian and East European Culture in 2014.