Memory Practices and Entrepreneurship: Mutual Influence and Public Representation.

Ukraine and Germany in Comparison at the End of the 19th - Beginning of the 20th Century

  • Laufzeit: 06/2022 – 05/2023
  • Finanzierung: Niedersächisches Vorab
  • Projektleitung und -durchführung: Dr. Tetiana Vodotyka
  • Mentorin: Prof. Dr. Andrea D. Bührmann

Since the end of the 19th century, business organisations and entrepreneurs operating in Central-Eastern Europe have actively participated in commemorative practices. The means to this end were memorials, street or settlement naming (as in the case of Oleksiy Alchevskiy and Oleksandr Pol), and patronage (which led to the naming of streets, as in the case of Mykola Tereshchenko. The Tereshenko family members became active actors in the memory field – i.e., they established schools and hospitals, museums and galleries, one of the ancestors wrote memoirs, became a politician etc.). In some countries, this trend continued and intensified (Germany), while in others, it was interrupted (Ukraine). The Soviet authorities provided the deliberate policy of erasing the memory of the entrepreneurs' contribution to the economic development of the regions/industries. This led to the oblivion of the role of entrepreneurs in economic, cultural and social development.
The presence of companies in public space and the practices of memory culture as part of public space points to the subjectivity of companies, their visibility and recognition of their importance for the economic development (especially in the context of the forthcoming reconstruction of Ukraine) and the way business impacts the material and non-material landscapes.
An analysis of the position and role of entrepreneurs in public life is almost non-existent in the Ukrainian scientific discourse. A comparison of several cases (cases) from Ukraine and Germany (especially the eastern part of it) will be a tool to highlight the contribution of entrepreneurship, ownership and private initiative to democracy. The outputs of this project (in the form of both publications and public discussions) will therefore target the academic community and the broader public.
Thus, it is planned to expand the focus on Ukraine by the country comparison "Ukraine - Germany".

The aims of the planned research are:
1) to find out how the model of the idea of ownership is connected with the socio-cultural subjectivity of business;
2) to analyse how corporate memory is embedded in local memory practices.
The time frame of the research: end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century.
Spatial limitation of the research: Central and Eastern Europe (Ukraine) and Western Europe (Germany) in comparative perspective.

Methodology and research methods
Methodology: The application of the methodology of discourse analysis is planned. Through the attitude towards property (property discourse) and the phenomenon of patronage/philanthropy, the subjective self-image and the economy’s influence on social and cultural processes and the culture of memory as its manifestation will be revealed. Ethnographic survey methods will be used for the planned field research.
Research methods
1) Comparison of the historical spaces of Ukraine and Germany through a discourse analysis of relevant media products and historiography.
2) Field research on the (in)existence of entrepreneurship in the memory spaces of the researched countries (monuments, memorials and plaques, toponymy, museums). Field visits to industrial regions in Ukraine were initially planned. Due to the current war situation in Ukraine, field visits to the solid economic areas in Germany, such as NRW (esp. the Ruhr area) and Lower Saxony (large companies in Lower Saxony will be considered) will be conducted as part of this research.
Interviews: As part of the field research, interviews will be conducted with, among others, representatives of industrial museums, foundations and cultural institutions in the Ruhr region that have been involved in the design of the remembrance space and the establishment of appropriate initiatives. These include the Institute for Social Movements at the Ruhr University in Bochum; the Foundation for the History of the Ruhr under the direction of Prof. Dr Stefan Berger, and the Ruhr Museum in Essen under the direction of Prof. Dr Theodor Grütter, with whom contact has already been established with the help of Prof. Dr Friedrich Jäger (Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen); cooperation has been promised. The Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen supports the refugee scientists from Ukraine in their research projects and is available to advise the two historians. In addition, large companies in Lower Saxony (Volkswagen, Siemens, Continental, TUI) are to be contacted. The motivation for participation in this area of public life, the choice of topics, and the presentation methods are to be traced.

At the end of this small project, the following outcomes are expected:
1) A public discussion about attitudes towards corporations (historical gravity and changes in these attitudes) and their (non)presence in public and historical space, including memory space. These discussions will be conducted in the online form via Zoom. Researchers from history, sociology, and economics will participate as representatives of NGOs. One panel will be aimed at the academic audience of the University of Göttingen; the other panel will be held in the framework of cooperation with Kyiv Mohyla Business School of Ukraine with the participation of Valeri Pekar (
2) A series of popular publications on the results of the discussions on the leading press and media platforms: "Економічна Правда" ("Economic Truth"), Український Тиждень ("Ukrainian Week", print weekly with socio-political orientation), open-source "Історична Правда" ("Historical Truth",, online magazines and
3) The article in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.