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Ekaterina Makhotina Receives Prize from the Peregrinus Foundation

The Bavarian Academy of Sciences honors the dissertation of the Munich Alumna


Dr. Ekaterina Makhotina, Research Associate of the Department of East European History at the University of Bonn and Alumna of the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies, received the Peregrinus Foundation Award on December 2, 2017 in Munich.

She was awarded the prestigious award at the annual meeting of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, the largest and one of the oldest academies in Germany. With the Peregrinus Foundation Prize, established in 1997, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences honors socially and politically relevant works that serve the understanding of interdisciplinary contexts.

The laureate stands out through her impressive scientific accomplishments, with two monographs, three co-edited volumes and 20 peer-reviewed publications, as well as through a professional career characterized by social commitment.

In her distinguished dissertation, which the historian, born in 1982 in St. Petersburg, wrote as an associate doctoral candidate in the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies and defended at the Ludwigs-Maximilian University in Munich in 2015, Ekaterina Makhotina devotes herself to cultural and communicative forms of remembrance of the Second World War in Lithuania. The work was supervised by Prof. Dr. Martin Schulze Wessel.

Makhotina has been successful in extensively researching the museum forms of Lithuania war remembrance in their political and social context, in addition to conveying important insights into the broader theme of the Soviet culture of remembrance, as emphasized by the award. Accordingly, the study has found recognition by both Lithuanian and Russian historians.

The study was published in 2017 under the title “Erinnerungen an den Krieg - Krieg der Erinnerungen. Litauen und der Zweite Weltkrieg” (“Memories of the War - War of Memories. Lithuania and the Second World War”) as the fourth volume of the Graduate School’s series, “Schnittstellen. Studien zum östlichen und südöstlichen Europa” (“Interfaces. Studies on Eastern and Southeastern Europe”), published by Prof. Dr. Martin Schulze Wessel and Prof. Dr. Ulf Brunnbauer.

According to the Academy, Makhotina’s work not only closes a research gap in the remembrance culture of Baltic countries in relation to World War II, but at the same time offers important analytical insights into the highly political issue of competing cultural remembrance in present-day Eastern Europe.

On the blog “Erinnerungskulturen. Erinnerung und Geschichtspolitik im östlichen und südöstlichen Europa” (“Remembrance Cultures. Memories and Historical Politics in Eastern and Southeastern Europe”), another contribution from Ekaterina Makhotina has been published that once again shows the explosiveness of conflicting memory. In this piece, Makhotina considers the current debate about the theater scholar and publicist Ruta Vanagaite in Lithuania. In 2015, Vanagaite’s widely read book, “Die Unsrigen” (“Our People”), showed that Lithuanians were accomplices in the Holocaust and called for not viewing the exterminated Jews as “foreigners”. After Vanagaite labeled Adolfas Tamanauskas-Vanagas, the last leader of the anti-Soviet partisan resistance in Lithuania, as Anti-Semite and KGB Agent, her publishers distanced themselves. Publicly, she is critically attacked. The case underscores the fatal influence that nationalizing cultures of remembrance have had on polyethnic societies, Makhotina said. Against this background, history (as an academic discipline) has a special responsibility for objectification of such debates.

Ekaterina Makhotina (center, 4th from right) among the winners of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences 2017 - Photo: Bavarian Academy of Sciences / Kai Neunert