Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Toponymic Wars in Czechia in the Aftermath of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

ANS 2023, January 20, 2023 “A Continuation of Politics by Other Means - Toponymic Wars in Czechia in the Aftermath of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine" by Přemysl Mácha (Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic) The naming and renaming of public spaces in reaction to world events as an instrument of international politics is a common toponymic practice. A case in point is the renaming of the squares in front of the Russian embassies in Prague and Washington, D.C., after the murdered Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 prompted local governments and citizens across Czechia to propose the renaming of streets and other public spaces referring to places in Russia, Russian personalities or Russia itself (e.g. Moskevská, Gagarinova, Ruská) in a show of solidarity with Ukraine. Although this wave of proposals has had mixed results, at best, the debates they have generated have laid bare underlying political tensions existing in the Czech society. On face value, these proposals may have seemed as analogies to Boris Nemtsov Plazas. In many instances, however, the Russian invasion of Ukraine became a proxy for local political conflicts expressed through heated toponymic wars all across the country. The paper will present the results of an analysis of several cases of successful and failed renaming proposals, including the associated arguments and debates, and discuss the spatial, social, political, and historical context which appears to be the key to both the success of renaming proposals as well as their correct interpretation. PŘEMYSL MÁCHA is a senior researcher at the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences. His interests include toponymic politics, minority names, enthoecology, indigenous people, environmental and landscape history, cultural heritage, and nature conservation. He has done research in Mexico, New Mexico, and the Czech Republic.

No comments:

Post a Comment