Promise of the Past: Making Sense of Soviet (Hi)Story in Russia after1989
Speaker: Dr. Ekaterina Makhotina, University of Bonn
The acceleration of time and skepticism towards the future are universal phenomenons of our society. The past is longing for more attention than the future in several spheres of public life: in politics, culture, public activities. Therefore, the political actors, who give the past its meaning and construct the narrative, are of enormous meaning. This is the case in Russia, where the politics of history have become extremely important in the last ten years. There are considerable investments in the evolvement of„sites of memory“, areas of cultural heritage, and public re-enactments. Most of all, the memory of the Second World War, which has been standing still in the unique continuity since Soviet time, is still the crucial point for the politics of collective identity in Russia. The politics of history aims at preserving the traditional, heroic meaning of war. The counter-example is the politics of ambivalence regarding the Stalinist repressions. Here, the definite conviction of the Stalinist regime is still lacking, and there are state-sponsored memorials for Stalin’s victims and Gulag-museums as well as non-official, private initiatives to install memorials to Stalin throughout the country. In the context of the latter, the „nostalgia“ for Stalin has its specific function– to demonstrate different „protest positions“ against the current regime (most of all to criticize the corruption of the elites) and against the lacking stability like in the „good old times“.
Dr. Ekaterina Makhotina, assistant professor, Dep. of Eastern Europe History University of Bonn. PhD in History for the thesis about the Cultural Memory of the WWII in Lithuania. Various monographs on the topics related to cultural memory and politics of history in Eastern Europe, Germany and Russia. Member of scientific advisor board at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, and the newly founded documentary center for the Nazi occupation during the WWII in Europe etc.