ʻIdle, Drunk and Good-for-Nothingʼ: The Rank-and-File Perpetrators of 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine and Their Representation in Cultural Memory
This dissertation examines identifiable traces of the perpetrators of the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine, known as the Holodomor, and their representation in cultural memory. It shows that the men and women who facilitated the famine on the ground were predominantly ordinary people largely incongruous with the dominant image of the perpetrator in Ukrainian cultural memory. I organise this interdisciplinary study, which draws on a wide range of primary sources, including archival research at all levels – republican, oblast’, district, village and private, published and unpublished memoirs and, on one occasion, an interview with a perpetrator; major corpora of oral memory, post-memory and cultural texts – into two parts. The first part employs a microhistorical analysis of the perpetrators and their actions through. Chapter One, ʻThe Mechanism of the Famine on the Groundʼ, outlines the Soviet policies that led to mass starvation and identifies various groups of people involved in the famine’s facilitation. It offers an analysis of events on village and district level, which reveals previously understudied groups, and employs a criminological approach to advance a new typology of the perpetrator. Chapter Two, ʻThe Case Studiesʼ, focuses on perpetrators in two villages: Toporyshche in the Zhytomyr oblast’ and Popivka in the Poltava oblast’. The second part explores the representation of the perpetrator in cultural memory, with a particular focus on Ukrainian novel, poetry, drama, film and museum practice, and examines how different cultural narratives frame the question of the agency of the perpetrator. While Soviet-era Ukrainian texts characterise the perpetrators as purely ideological participants, post-Soviet and diaspora artists cast them as the Other, while dissident authors disperse agency altogether. In order to support these claims I bring together archival evidence and works of cultural memory. In this dissertation I show that people who facilitated the famine on the ground were predominantly ordinary people as the participants in other cases of mass violence, thus rendering the image of the Other, aberrant or exclusively ideological participant in cultural memory inefficient to explain how this devastating famine was possible. By bringing together archival evidence and works of cultural memory, I foreground a central discrepancy between the identity and representation of the perpetrators of one of the most catastrophic events of the twentieth century.