Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action IF MELoDYE



MELoDYE is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship research project exploring European memory policies and commemorative practices (with a special focus on monuments) in the context of democracy and the rule of law.

The research is conducted by dr Alina Cherviatsova under the supervision of prof dr Yves Haeck at the Programme for Studies on Human Rights in Context of the Human Rights Centre, Faculty of Law and Criminology.

The project started on 1 May 2021 will last 2 years.

Comment to the picture: Lenin in childhood: Lenin’s repainted monument survived in Kharkiv (Ukraine)

Project description

When the past is contested, the monuments are the first to be destroyed. The memorial fever that started in Europe in 1989 with the fall of communist symbols continues with the removal of monuments of persons tied to racial discrimination and slavery. Although these symbols all have different political contexts and belong to different historical epochs, the heated debates over them reflect a tectonic shift in historical narratives which released memories that were hitherto frozen. Lenin, Dzerzhinsky, Stalin, King Leopold II of Belgium, Cecil Rhodes, Joseph Gallieni, Edward Colston, Victor Schoelcher, Christopher Columbus – the list of the past heroes who turned to be villains is not exhausted.

In some cases, the profound disagreements about the monuments and memorial policy behind them can cause a confrontation not only within one society but also between states (the so-called, ‘memory wars’). For instance, the monuments to Stephan Bandera (Ukraine), Josef Tizo (Slovakia), the ancient warrior king Alexander the Great (the Republic of North Macedonia) are highly controversial in terms of interstate relations. Among recent examples is a conflict between the Russian Federation and the Czech Republic over the dismantlement of the monument to Marshal Ivan Konev in Prague, who by many Czechs is seen as a symbol of Soviet occupation. In response, Russia introduced a law with extraterritorial effect (April 2020) making it a crime to destroy Soviet war monuments not only in Russia, but also abroad.

Amid the discussions over the monuments and controversial legacies they represent, the essential questions are usually ignored: How should the monuments that evoke opposite meanings within and across societies be treated? What should be done about the monuments whose messages are incompatible with fundamental constitutional values and human rights, including non-discrimination, and peaceful coexistence? – To destroy or to preserve? Over centuries, the totalitarian regimes removed the monuments they did not agree with. Should the democracies then follow this path?


MELoDYE is original in its approach, noble and ambitious in its goal: (i) it uses monuments as a lens to analyze current memory conflicts and memory wars in Europe; (ii) challenges the existing concept of public commemoration and European memory policies; and (iii) elaborates a set of constitutional principles – mnemoconstitutionalism – regarding monuments.

MELoDYE seeks to answer the questions:

  • How should commemorative symbols be constructed, maintained, or revised to ensure free speech and European solidarity?
  • What should be the legal standards for memory policies and public commemorative practices in a democracy?

Role of Ghent University

MELoDYE is hosted by the Programme for Studies on Human Rights in Context, Human Rights Centre, Faculty of Law and Criminology, Ghent University.
The University provides the necessary scientific and logistic support.


to be announced


Dr Alina Cherviatsova (researcher)
Programme for Studies on Human Rights in Context
Human Rights Centre - Faculty of Law and Criminology

Prof Dr Yves Haeck (promotor)
Programme for Studies on Human Rights in Context
Human Rights Centre - Faculty of Law and Criminology
Cell: +32 485 53 97 02