International conference "Collective Memory in Contemporary Russia: The Soviet Past in Post-Soviet Context(s)"

Konferensen kommer på engelska.

Controversies about the Soviet past – both its tragic and its heroic pages – were central to political, cultural and public life in the USSR on the verge of its dissolution. Today, as we approach the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia once again appears to be moving down the road of authoritarianism. Importantly, (positive) re-evaluation of the Soviet past plays a crucial role in Russia’s ‘conservative’ turn. More broadly, the question of how to remember certain pages of the Soviet past has become the source of international tension and conflict in the post-Communist space. 

Collective Memory in Contemporary Russia: The Soviet Past in Post-Soviet Context(s)’ is an interdisciplinary conference focusing on multiple aspects of how memory of the Soviet past operates in today’s Russia. Bringing together historians, sociologists, political scientists and culturalists from Russia, Europe and North America, the conference will encourage discussions on the social, political, and cultural contexts of collective memory while building a new and unique international network of researchers in this field. 

The aim of the conference is to develop and expand the trend towards studying collective memory according to its various layers, such as the ‘official’, ‘popular’ and ‘cultural’. The thematic papers to be given at this conference have been chosen because of the way they highlight the interaction between visions of the past, geopolitical imaginaries, political legitimacy and social stability. The conference will focus on different aspects of the collective memory of the Soviet in contemporary Russia (Nets-Zehngut 2012: 254–55) such as (i) ‘the official’: organized by various state bodies from textbooks in schools to museum exhibitions;  (ii) ‘the cultural’: emerging in films, TV, books, media, documentaries; (iii) ‘the popular’: predominant representations of the past that are successfully reproduced and transmitted in social groups. 

In examining these diverse but overlapping and interlinked aspects of collective memory, the conference approaches memory not only as a tool of political legitimization but a vibrant and genuine element of national, regional, ethnic and other identities.

The conference will take a hybrid form, with both travelling and zoom participants.

The event is funded by Riksbanken Jubileumsfond and the Uppsala Forum on Democracy, Peace and Justice.