In 1990, months before crowds in Moscow and other major cities dismantled their monuments to Lenin, residents of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv toppled theirs. William Jay Risch argues that Soviet politics of empire inadvertently shaped this anti-Soviet city, and that opposition from the periphery as much as from the imperial center was instrumental in unraveling the Soviet Union.
Lviv’s borderlands identity was defined by complicated relationships with its Polish neighbor, its imperial Soviet occupier, and the real and imagined West. The city’s intellectualsworking through compromise rather than overt oppositionstrained the limits of censorship in order to achieve greater public use of Ukrainian language and literary expression, and challenged state-sanctioned histories with their collective memory of the recent past. Lviv’s post–Stalin-generation youth, to which Risch pays particular attention, forged alternative social spaces where their enthusiasm for high culture, politics, soccer, music, and film could be shared.
The Ukrainian West enriches our understanding not only of the Soviet Union’s postwar evolution but also of the role urban spaces, cosmopolitan identities, and border regions play in the development of nations and empires. And it calls into question many of our assumptions about the regional divisions that have characterized politics in Ukraine. Risch shines a bright light on the political, social, and cultural history that turned this once-peripheral city into a Soviet window on the West.
About the Author
William Jay Risch is Associate Professor of History at Georgia College and State University.
Table of Contents
Foreign Terms and Abbreviations ix
Note on Transliteration xi
I Lviv and the Soviet West
1 Lviv and Postwar Soviet Politics 17
2 The Making of a Soviet Ukrainian City 27
3 The New Lvivians 53
4 The Ukrainian "Soviet Abroad" 82
II Lviv and the Ukrainian Nation
5 Language and Literary Politics 119
6 Lviv and the Ukrainian Past 147
7 Youth and the Nation 179
8 Mass Culture and Counterculture 220
Appendix Note on Interviews 263
Archives Consulted 337
Oral Interviews 341
What People are Saying About This
An intriguing account of cultural life in Lviv. This work stands out as the best introduction to the city's recent history in English. Risch makes an important contribution to Soviet, Ukrainian, East European, borderlands, and urban history alike.
Mark von Hagen, Arizona State University
Offers a picture of life in Lviv hitherto unmatched.
Serhii Plokhii, Harvard University