CULTURE

Memorial WinRAR: Commemoration practices in modern Russia

May 12, 2022
Vladimir Kalashnikov on how Russia’s memory politics and monumentalization evolved over the years, resulting in a memorial frenzy encouraging a depoliticized Soviet identity.
Vladimir Kalashnikov explores how the culture of memory in Russia has gone from “displacing everything Soviet” to a memorial frenzy. Russia faced a crisis of memory during the perestroika years and the 1990s, accompanied by an archival revolution in which archives on Soviet repression were declassified. To rebuild a social consensus, the strategy focused on “displacement” (Verdrängung) of the Soviet. This led to the emergence of new, bizarre forms of museumification, such as the spontaneous exhibition of demounted Soviet leaders at Moscow's Muzeon Park. Meanwhile, displacement featured clashes between generations, with younger artists undergoing a global rethinking of Leniniana.

In the 2000s, Kalashnikov notes, “the desire to reflect on the preserved Soviet heritage and embed it into narratives of current historiographical trends led to new forms of collective victimization.” Monuments to the Great Patriotic War exploded, with about 20 new monuments erected in 2020 alone, in a presentist attempt to draw on the memory of the war and derive meaning for today’s Russia. Meanwhile, monuments dedicated to victims of Soviet repression have been presented in a depoliticized manner in which mourning cannot lead to a political judgment vis-à-vis the state.

Digest written by the Russia.Post editorial team. See the original here.
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