Monument to Catherine II / Monument to the Founders of Odessa in Odesa
By Contested Histories Initiative • August 2021
The Monuments to the Odessa Founders features prominently Catherine II of Russia and the men who assisted in the creation of the Russian Empire’s new southern frontier in Ukraine. The monument was inaugurated in 1894, but the start of communist rule in Ukraine prompted a series of removals and replacements of symbols of the past. After Ukraine’s independence in 1991, local leaders pushed for the restoration of the monument to Odesa’s city centre, sparking controversies, and questioning the identity politics of the southern port city. The monument was re-inaugurated in 2007, but it has since been criticized for its commemoration of a monarch who brought serfdom to Ukraine and for the utilization of the imperial past to circumvent national memory laws. This case study explores the entanglements between anti-Soviet narratives and a new understanding of colonial paradigms in Eastern Europe.