Returning Chernivtsi to the cultural map of Europe: The Meridian Czernowitz International Poetry Festival

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Drawing on tropes, stories, and symbols emanating from lost layers of urban cultural diversity has been an important resource in post-socialist city branding in many cities in Eastern and Central Europe that saw significant ethno-demographic changes in connection with World War II. In Chernivtsi, this is usually framed by narratives emphasizing tolerance, cultural diversity, and Europeanness, notions that are prominent in myths about the city in German-speaking Central Europe. A common strategy here, found in municipal city branding and in commercial efforts to draw on the multiethnic past in restaurants and cafés, is to deemphasize difficult questions about what actually happened to the celebrated cultural diversity and soften or ignore the temporal break. The article analyses how the International Poetry Festival Meridian Czernowitz, that has taken place in Chernivtsi since 2010, works with the city’s culturally diverse past and its literary dimensions, drawing on tropes from both local multiculturalist narratives and on the Bukowina-Mythos popularised by intellectuals from German-speaking countries. Although the festival is not a venue for working through traumas, locating events in symbolically charged places such as the Jewish cemetery and highlighting Holocaust themes in poetry readings opens up for difficult questions where the lost cultural diversity might become something more than only a resource.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-256
JournalEast European Politics and Societies (EEPS)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 20

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Humanities not elsewhere specified


  • Cultural Heritage
  • Memory Studies
  • Chernivtsi
  • festivals
  • Ukraine


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