Renegotiating Urban Memories in the European Periphery
the Case of Kaunas as a Laboratory
Three decades have now passed since Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Union. Following the phenomenon of progressive distancing from the Communist past, the effects of post-Soviet transition are nowadays visible in the changing urban landscape understood as the bearer of memory. The city of Kaunas (Lithuania) is used here as case study as it looks forward to move away from the “temporary capital” label and play the role of European capital of culture in 2022. The main objective of this study is to explore how Kaunas’ urban transformation affects the collective memory of the local population and in turn shapes the cultural identity of the city. Based on original survey data, this study finds that even though multiple cultural identities can coexist, there is evidence to believe that the local youth is still divided about the city’s historical legacy of the 20th century. Finally, this article marks a step in the direction of integrating the study of urban areas into the discussion about historical memory and conflicting interpretations of the past.
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