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Photo of Ekatherina Zhukova.

Ekatherina Zhukova


Photo of Ekatherina Zhukova.

Image substitutes and visual fake history: historical images of atrocity of the Ukrainian famine 1932–1933 on social media


  • Ekatherina Zhukova

Summary, in English

This article analyses how pre-internet historical images of atrocity are used on social media in the era of misinformation, disinformation and a rising radical right. Combining scholarship in cultural sociology, media studies and communication, and history, the article introduces two concepts: image substitute and visual fake history. Image substitute is an image of an historical event from a particular time or place, which is used to represent a tragedy from a different decade or geographical location. Visual fake history is a combination of truth, misinformation and disinformation about past events through reliance on historical images as image substitutes and accompanying narratives. These concepts are developed empirically on the basis of images representing the Ukrainian famine of 1932–1933, circulated on Instagram under #holodomor between 2012–2018. It is shown that the Ukrainian famine was visualized through images of Soviet and South Asian famines and the Holocaust, which were embedded in anti-communist and anti-Semitic narratives.

Publishing year





Visual Communication

Document type

Journal article


SAGE Publications


  • Media and Communications




  • ISSN: 1470-3572