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Accepted Paper:

The Greek-Catholic underground in the memory of the Ukrainian diaspora of Karaganda, Kazakhstan: how ethnocultural identity was preserved  
Nestor Manichkin (French Institute for Central Asian Studies)


The object of the study is the Greek Catholic community of Karaganda city in Kazakhstan. It emerged after repressions and resettlements of residents of Western Ukraine, accused of links with the "nationalist underground" in 1944-1955. Special resettlers were not only participants of anti-Soviet partisan formations, but also their relatives. A significant part of the descendants of the special resettlers underwent Russification and assimilation. At the same time, many Ukrainians managed to preserve their historical memory and national identity. In this they were helped by the underground Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church, which was banned in the USSR. The subject of this study is the role of this church in preserving the ethno-cultural memory of Central Asian Ukrainians.

The research was carried out within the framework of the project "Preservation of the ethnocultural memory of Ukrainian special resettlers during the underground activities of the Greek Catholic Church in Soviet Central Asia" supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation (Germany).

Memories of people of different generations, including survivors of repression and resettlement, as well as their children and grandchildren, were collected and analyzed. Practices of underground church life, extra-church rituals were studied. Material artifacts supporting historical memory in Ukrainian families (embroideries, prayer books, icons, rosaries, etc.) were recorded. Narratives of collective ethno-cultural memory, usually transmitted orally from the older to the younger generation, were identified and analyzed. A case deserves special attention when the Greek Catholics of Karaganda managed to serve the liturgy openly in a newly built Roman Catholic church (1980-1985).

The study made it possible to reconstruct the life of Greek Catholics who held catacomb services, to study the activities of the most prominent church figures, priests and bishops, and to analyze their role in the preservation and transmission of historical memory over three generations. The methodology of the research is determined by traditional approaches and tools for memory studies.

Panel REL01
Identity and Belief in the Late Russian Empire and Soviet Union
  Session 1 Friday 7 June, 2024, -