Local Memories in a Nationalizing and Globalizing World
Since 1991, Sevastopol, an ethnically Russian city in Ukraine, has been undergoing a re-examination of its heritage. On the eve of Ukraine's 'Orange Revolution' in 2004, one could see a wall on Soviet Street with graffiti that read: 'Sevastopol is Russia.' Graffiti is a common form of self-expression, but it can also be a political statement. The persistence of the name 'Soviet Street', which ends at a large statue of Vladimir Lenin that towers over the city, also seemed anachronistic in democratic and independent Ukraine. Cities throughout Eastern Europe have been westernizing by erecting glass and steel skyscrapers while also destroying remnants of the communist past by tearing down buildings and statues and renamiing streets and squares. Although many post-Soviet cities have removed traces of the Bolsheviks and the communist past, Sevastopol retains street names and Lenin's statue still looks down over the city from the central hill. Because after the Second World War Sevastopol's urban biography preferred two centuries of war heroism to revolutions, the city's local history survived in a way that was virtually impossible for many other cities in Eastern Europe after the collapse of communist governments. It should not surprise us, then, that the streets of Sevastopol were filled with joyous revellers in March 2014 as Crimea voted to be annexed by Russia.