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Rites of Place

Public Commemoration in Russia and Eastern Europe

Edited by Julie Buckler and Emily D. Johnson

Publication Year: 2013

Ranging widely across time and geography, Rites of Place is to date the most comprehensive and diverse example of memory studies in the field of Russian and East European studies. Leading scholars consider how public rituals and the commemoration of historically significant sites facilitate a sense of community, shape cultural identity, and promote political ideologies. The aims of this volume take on unique importance in the context of the tumultuous events that have marked Eastern European history—especially the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, World War II, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. With essays on topics such as the founding of St. Petersburg, the battle of Borodino, the Katyn massacre, and the Lenin cult, this volume offers a rich discussion of the uses and abuses of memory in cultures where national identity has repeatedly undergone dramatic shifts and remains riven by internal contradictions.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

...The editors wish to thank their home institutions for support provided for the publication of this volume. We also extend our grateful appreciation to acquisitions editor Mike Levine at Northwestern University Press for all his help and guidance. And fi nally, we thank our daughters, Cerria Johnson and Natalie Korzh, for their patience...

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pp. 1-12

...Changing times demand new symbols, rituals, and public spaces. During the twenty- plus years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, governments, civic groups, religious authorities, and private interests across Eastern Europe and Eurasia have worked to preserve, restore, reclaim, and reshape reemergent sites seen as central to collective memory. As part of this process, familiar landscapes have taken on unexpected new functions, long abandoned rites have resurfaced, and activities...

Part 1: Reconstituting Urban Space

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Transporting Jerusalem: The Epiphany Ritual in Early St. Petersburg

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pp. 15-34

...Yuri Lotman and Boris Uspenskii made clear more than three decades ago, the Petrine myth of a total rupture with the past, while understandable, is simply inaccurate. Peter’s reformed culture was structured not so much on a European model as on an inverted model of the old culture, the superfi cial results of which were labeled as European, namely, Other...

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Prague Funerals: How Czech National Symbols Conquered and Defended Public Space

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pp. 35-58

...This paper analyzes the semiotics of nineteenth- and twentieth- century national commemorative ceremonies and memorial culture by applying the theoretical models developed by Yuri Lotman, Roland Posner, and Vladimír Macura, which can be situated within the interpretative theory of culture.1 National commemorative ceremonies and memorial culture played an important role in the emergence of the modern nation...

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"A Monstrous Staircase" : Inscribing the 1905 Revolution on Odessa

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pp. 59-80

...Russia’s revolutionary unrest of 1905 spawned narratives set in various locales, including the two imperial capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg; but it was in comparatively sleepy, provincial Odessa that the most vivid—albeit fi ctional—images of the 1905 revolution were composed. As this essay will argue, it was these images of 1905, captured on fi lm by Sergei Eisenstein and in literature by such writers as Isaac Babel, Aleksandr Kuprin, and Valentin Kataev, that established Odessa...

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Jubilation Deferred: The Belated Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of St. Peterburg/Leningrad

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pp. 81-102

...Compared to the extravagant festivities staged around the globe in connection with St. Petersburg’s tercentennial in 2003, remarkably little was done in 1953 to mark the city’s 250th anniversary. Some publications on regional history appeared, local museums organized a few Leningrad- related exhibits, and postwar restoration work continued at sites in and around the capital, but in virtually all cases authors and organizers carefully avoided connecting their activities to the anniversary. Guidebooks...

Part 2: The Art and Culture of Commemoration

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The Portrait Mode: Zhukovsky, Pushkin, and the Gallery of 1812

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pp. 105-132

...The aim of any commemoration is to defi ne and perpetuate popular historical knowledge. Thus, the forms commemoration takes are also essentially forms of knowledge that entail diff erent modes of engagement and diff erent objects of knowing, and the study of commemoration is of necessity also an epistemological project. Originating from these general premises, this essay considers a specifi c commemorative genre—the portrait; a specifi c period when it emerges as one of the most compelling...

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An Island of Antiquity: The Double Life of Talashkino in Russia and Beyond

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pp. 133-156

...journal and the Russian handicrafts department at the 1900 international exhibition in Paris stand out. The artists’ colony at Tenisheva’s estate, Talashkino, one of the major centers of the national art revival, was part of her artistic heritage, too. Tenisheva organized extensive handicrafts workshops that employed some two thousand peasant women and, in 1898, founded the Russian Antiquity Museum, which housed over...

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From Lenin's Tomb to Avtovo Station: Illusion and Spectacle in Soviet Subterranean Space

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pp. 157-182

...How do our material surroundings correspond to and shape the world of ideas, our beliefs, and our behavior? This question is particularly interesting to ask about the Soviet period from the 1920s through the beginning of the Thaw. Architecture played a prominent role in the culture of that time, and such rhetorical constructions as “building socialism” and “living in Communism” were once prevalent ways to imagine the goal for which the party was striving...

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From Public, to Private, to Public Again: International Women's Day in Post-Soviet Russia

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pp. 183-200

...the satirical show, sponsored by the then- independent and outspoken Russian television channel NTV, aired a segment called “Women’s Day.” The sly puppets in the show had built a considerable following across the Commonwealth of Independent States by savagely lampooning celebrities and politicians, and were popular among a vast audience who delighted in the wicked caricatures...

Part 3: Military and Battlefield Commemorations

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Taking and Retaking the Field: Borodino as a Site of Collective Memory

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pp. 203-224

...over to the French? There were battles over it—they say these were something!” This gambit elicits the story of Borodino, and the old veteran recounts his experience in more than a dozen stanzas of folksy speech. The poem’s oft- quoted line “Nedarom pomnit vsia Rossiia pro den’ Borodina” (“With good cause all Russia remembers the day of Borodino”) underscores the ritual nature of the veteran’s narration and the younger generation’s indebtedness to its elders...

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Who to Lead the Slavs? : Poles, Russians, and the 1910 Anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald

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pp. 225-240

...Those familiar with the event mentioned in my title may wonder what a battle fought in medieval times between the Teutonic Knights and a motley group of East and Central European allies could possibly have to do with the relationship of Poles to Russians and, ultimately, to pan- Slavism. Yet, the battle of 1410 proved to be a rallying cry for Poles in the fi rst decade of the twentieth century—one that had interesting ramifi cations for Poles’ relationships with their neighbors. While...

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Moscow's First World War Memorial and Ninety Years of Contested Memory

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pp. 241-260

...Members of Russian educated society, like the opinion makers in other European combatant countries, stepped forward during the war to honor the dead in ways that affi rmed the nation’s patriotism and secured the active participation of social elites in the war eff ort. Perhaps the most important site of Russian national commemoration of the First World War was the Moscow City Fraternal Cemetery, also known as the All- Russian War Cemetery. The Grand...

Part 4: Commemorating Trauma

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Memory as the Anchor of Sovereignty: Katyn and the Charge of Genocide

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pp. 263-284

...Katyn, 1940. Such was the simple inscription in the Polish War Cemetery at Katyn (Russian Federation) at its offi cial opening on July 28, 2000. Similar sites were opened that summer in the Russian town of Mednoe, and Kharkov in Ukraine, other places where Polish offi cers were slaughtered by Soviet NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Aff airs) troops in 1940, following their capture in the wake of the Soviet- German partition of Poland...

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Postcolonial Estrangements: Claiming a Space Between Stalin and Hitler

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pp. 285-314

...History is rarely predictable in the world of postsocialism. Historical institutions are even less so. Things that were taken for granted for decades might lose their credibility overnight. And regain it few years later. Historical fi gures quickly become national stars and—just as quickly—fall into complete oblivion. For the last two decades, postsocialism has been driven by a desire to build a market economy and political democracy, just as much as it has been an attempt to work through...

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Prisons into Museums: Fashioning a Post-Communist Place of Memory

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pp. 315-336

...What happened to Communist political prisons and camps in the twenty years following the fall of the Iron Curtain? For years many of my travels through Eastern Europe were driven by this question. This drive to see the material remains of those sites of suff ering even outlasted the gradual realization that as they now stand or crumble, these places often have more to say about our present than about their...


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pp. 337-338

E-ISBN-13: 9780810166592
E-ISBN-10: 0810166593
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810129108
Print-ISBN-10: 0810129108

Page Count: 348
Illustrations: 34 b&w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1
Volume Title: 1

OCLC Number: 867740070
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Rites of Place

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Collective memory -- Former Soviet republics.
  • Political customs and rites -- Former Soviet republics.
  • Public architecture -- Social aspects -- Former Soviet republics.
  • Public spaces -- Social aspects -- Former Soviet republics.
  • National characteristics.
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