Dr. Simon Lewis
Freie Universität Berlin
Center for Area Studies
I completed a PhD in Slavonic Studies in 2014 at the University of Cambridge, where I also worked on the HERA-sponsored international research project Memory at War: Cultural Dynamics in Poland, Russia and Ukraine (2010-13).Prior to that I studied at the Centre for Social Studies at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences(MA in Culture, Media and Society, with Distinction, 2009) and the University of Oxford (BA in Russian and Linguistics, 2005).
Before joining FU Berlin as a DRS Research Fellow in January 2016, I was a Research Assistant on the project “The Jagiellonians: Dynasty, Memory and Identity in Central Europe”, based at the University of Oxford, and a Visiting Fellow at the Social Memory Laboratory, Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw (2014-15). I also co-convene the “Genealogies of Memory” conference series, which is based in Warsaw and run by the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity.
Title of research project:
Poland Beyond its Borders: a Genealogy of the Kresy
Focus of research:
Discourses of sovereignty and ownership in the so-called “former Eastern territories” of Poland
Memory, Nostalgia, Amnesia, Trauma, Nationalism, Postcolonial theory, Transnational history, Cultural history, Literature
Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia
My overall research interests are in the culture, history and languages of Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, with a thematic focus on nationhood, memory and identity. I am particularly concerned with the emergence of separate national identities in the aftermath of the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at the end of the eighteenth century: my work explores the interactions and interdependencies between Slavonic language-based cultures from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Therefore, I accent the transnational ties between Belarusian, Ukrainian, Polish and Russian narratives that overlap and compete for hegemony within the geographic space of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. I endeavour to closely analyse a broad range of written and visual sources, including prose fiction, poetry, cinema, historiography, drama, and popular music, in comparative perspective. I also explore the implications of studying this region for established theoretical paradigms, such as postcolonialism, nationalism, trauma theory, and memory studies.
My current research project, entitled ‘Poland Beyond its Borders: a Genealogy of the Kresy’, is a cultural history of the eastern borderlands of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, often referred to in Polish as Kresy Wschodnie (‘Eastern Limits’). Today these territories appear as Belarus, Lithuania and western Ukraine – yet they are extremely important to Poles. My project aims to examine the discursive mapping of this area in four different languages in historical perspective: Polish, Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian. It offers a genealogy of ideas about spatial sovereignty in this highly heterogeneous and disputed area, spanning from the era of Romanticism to the present day.
Remembering Katyn, co-authored with Alexander Etkind, Rory Finnin, Uilleam Blacker, Julie Fedor, Maria Mälksoo and Matilda Mroz (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012).
Peer-reviewed journal articles:
‘Khatyn and its Discontents: Hegemonic Martyrdom and de-Sovietization in Belarus’, Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society (in press; forthcoming winter 2015).
‘“Official Nationality” and the Dissidence of Memory in Belarus: A Comparative Analysis of Two Films’, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema 5:3 (2011), 371-387; awarded the Zora Kipel Article Prize in Belarusian Studies (2012); runner-up in Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema postgraduate article competition (2011).
‘The Partisan Republic: Colonial Myths and Memory Wars in Belarus’, in Markku Kangaspuro, Jussi Lassila, and Tatiana Zhurzhenko (eds), Re-narrating Heroism, Making Sense of Suffering: Memories of WWII in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (in press at Berghahn Books, forthcoming 2016).
‘Towards Cosmopolitan Mourning: Belarusian Literature between History and Politics’, in Uilleam Blacker, Alexander Etkind and Julie Fedor (eds), Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 195-216.
Per Anders Ruding, The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). Forthcoming in Slavonic and East European Journal 59.4 (Winter 2015).
‘Vozmozhna li belorusskaia pamiat’ o Katyni?’ (article, in Russian), Novaia Europa, April 24, 2013: http://n-europe.eu/article/2013/04/24/vozmozhna_li_belarusskaya_pamyat_o_katyni
‘Culture War in Belarus’ (article), openDemocracy, April 5, 2013: http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/simon-lewis/culture-war-in-belarus
Joanna Wawrzyniak, Veterans, Victims and Memory. The Politics of the Second World War in Communist Poland (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2015); originally ZBoWiD i pamięć drugiej wojny światowej 1949-1969 (Warszawa: Trio, 2009).
LenaPrents and AlyonaGlukhova (eds), Belarusian Unofficial Art, 1970s-1990s (in press at European Humanities University Press, forthcoming 2016).
Mariusz Maszkiewicz (ed.), Belarus: Towards a United Europe (Wrocław: Jan Nowak-Jeziorański College of Eastern Europe, 2009).
‘Mezhdunarodnaia konferentsiia “Teoriia i pamiat’ v vostochoi Evrope”’ [conference review], Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 114 (2012), http://magazines.russ.ru/nlo/2012/114/s54.html
‘Belarus Report: Presidential Election and Memory War’, Eastern European Memory Studies, 3 (2011), 19-20.