L’viv as a lens

2012, July 4, 2012, 3 p.m.
L’viv as a lens: East Central European Cultural Memory in focus
A lecture by dr. Robert Pyrah within the cycle of Open lectures at the Academy of Heritage
Admission free, a lecture in English with Polish translation

The notion of ‘cultural memory’ has gained currency in academic discussion over the last decade, as a means of understanding wider processes of identity construction in East Central Europe. It focuses on the ways in which history itself, in addition to aspects of cultural and civic life (including education, theatre and memorial culture, as imparted through institutional channels) are used to shape discourses of local, regional and national identity. 20th century L’viv offers a powerful case study that, as elsewhere, displays both commonalities and divergences. This talk will look at aspects of identity building in two broadly speaking ‘national’ contexts: (1) after the collapse of two Empires: Polish, post Habsburg Lwów, with a special emphasis on the City Theatre as a complicated prism of these identity politics; and (2) Ukrainian, post Soviet L’viv, where civic policies approach the question of multiculturalism in complex ways that often impart a sui generis sense of place beyond region or nation. These local specifics will be used to raise a number of wider observations about the regional concern with ‘cultural memory’ as an identity building device, and its complex dimensions beyond the purely ‘national’ or ‘local’.

Robert Pyrah – historian and linguist, specialising in the 20th century cultural history of post Habsburg East Central Europe, with special emphasis on the cities of Vienna and L’viv. Author of The Burgtheater and Austrian Identity, plus articles on the historiography of L’viv and Austrian interwar ‘clerical fascism’, his special focus is on the politicised role of the Arts in constructing and contesting narratives of local, regional and national identity. He is a three time graduate of the University of Oxford (BA, Masters, Doctorate), where he maintains a History Faculty membership. From later 2012 he will manage a four year British government backed project on the question of sub cultural identity formation across a number of Central European cities, involving the training of a doctoral student at Oxford, the creation of an international research network, numerous academic events, and a resource rich website. Dr. Robert Pyrah is in Krakow as a scholar of the 6th edition of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage programme Thesaurus Poloniae.

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