This article proposes to look afresh at the legacies of communism in urban spaces in post-1989 Poland. Specifically, it investigates the fate of Red Army monuments and explores how these public spaces have been used in the multifaceted and multileveled process of post-communist identity formation. The article suggests that Red Army monuments constitute sites for the articulation of new narratives about the country’s past and future which are no longer grounded in the fundamental division between “us” (the nation) and “them” (the supporters of communism) and which are far from being fixed in the binary opposition of the banished and the embraced past. The reorganization of public memory space does not only involve contesting the Soviet past or affirming independence traditions but is rather the outcome of multilayered processes rooted in particularities of time and space. Moreover, the article argues that the dichotomy “liberator versus occupier,” often employed as a viable analytical tool by scholars investigating the post-communist memorial landscape, impedes our understanding of the role played by Soviet war memorials in the process of re-imagining national and local communities in post-1989 Eastern Europe.
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