Readers of Russian and Ukrainian social media find themselves embedded in a world of digital wars, where alternative histories thrive and multifarious memories compete for hegemony. Members of the blog community Ukraine_Russia quarrel over the roles of the two countries in World War II. Chatters on the memory site Born in the USSR debate the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the role of memory in determining the geographical bounds of national sovereignty. Participants of the social-network group Russia♥Ukraine♥Belarus discuss Soviet repressions in Ukraine, while groups registered on the ‘Ukrainian Facebook’ www.connect.ua fight to rehabilitate public memory of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and honour its veterans.
The member populations of each of these memory-related groups and chat fora are large but unknown. Discussion entries follow one another with intervals of mere minutes or seconds, and their authors post messages from all over the globe. With its speed, accessibility, and accommodation of anonymity, the Internet is radically changing the way memory travels between generations and communities. A research team at the University of Bergen studies the new online vectors of memory in the project Web Wars: Digital Diasporas and the Language of Memory in Russia and Ukraine. Web Wars is part of the HERA-funded transinstitutional project Memory at War, which scrutinizes the ongoing memory wars between Russia, Ukraine, and Poland – nations where political conflicts take the shape of heated debates about the recent past, and especially World War II and Soviet socialism.
NB For more information on the project outlines, please surf to the two subpages indicated below. They provide more information both on the project aims and on its methodology.