a Ph.D. in Philology, a senior research fellow at the Department of Ukrainian and Foreign Folkloristics of the NASU M. Rylskyi Institute for Art Studies, Folkloristics and Ethnology
The Motif of the Lost Paradise in the Narrations about the Forced Displacement
A typical motif in the reminiscences on the forced resettlement caused by various factors is the description of a place that has to be left out. It acquires perfect features, the image of the lost paradise in the narrations. The idealization is the most often reflected in the descriptions of beautiful landscapes, rich natural resources, successful management, especially friendly community, as well as in the conscious, and more often unconscious hushing up or depreciation of the negative memories about the lost place. The same trends can be seen in the stories about the other forced migrants. In particular Ukrainians, displaced during the so-called ‘Vistula’ Operation. They begin their stories with the idealized descriptions of their native village. The use of binary opposition, at the poles of which there are two locations – a lost village and a forced settlement – contributes to the idealization. Often, such a construction is a poetic picture of an abandoned landscape as opposed to a plot that people have received in a displaced area. Numerous microtoponyms are considered as a typical feature in the description of a lost village. This variety of nomination never happens in the description of new settlements where there are almost no microtoponyms. In contrast, here we have the nominations with the semantics of non-existence, disorder: a huge nobody’s field, plots, allocated land.
An indirect form of lost paradise idealization is the constant declaration of the willingness to move again to the flooded space as soon as it is released.
Today various forms of social activity have become widespread for the purpose of memorializing flooded villages: annual meetings of displaced persons, publication of books about displaced settlements, opening of memorial signs near the reservoirs. The stories about such meetings have become a typical motif in memories of relocation. Obligatory components in displaced person’s meetings are common meal, singing, memories about a flooded village and making pictures. The mutual friendliness between the former villagers is emphasized in the reminiscences.
Another new original social activity is the annual competition called The Heat Roaring Dnipro. The participants have to overcome the three-kilometer distance between the two coasts of the Kaniv Reservoir with free swimming style. The first such event has taken place in 2016. In 2019 the fourth such round has happened.
We can suppose that such public initiatives are caused by the need to see former villagers, and the fact that people have the financial possibility to fulfill this necessity.
oral history, migration, flooded territory, motive ‘the lost paradise’, idealization.
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