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    Making and Unmaking ‘Soviet Heritage’ in Russia

    Advanced seminar arranged by the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.

    Speaker: Julie Deschepper, National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (Inalco, Paris).

    Discussant: Yulia Gradskova, Södertörn University.

    Chair: Irina Sandomirskaja, Södertörn University.

    Recently, the so-called ‘socialist heritage’ in post- (or still-) socialist contexts have aroused a large scale of interrogations in both academic and artistic fields. However, the constitution of a ‘socialist heritage’ in socialist context is still an under-researched topic, despite its significance to capture the specificity of heritage issues in these regimes. My paper then intends to offer insights into this issue in the heartland of socialism, Soviet Russia. I argue that the constitution of a proper ‘soviet heritage’ was consubstantial with the establishment and implementation of socialist regime in Russia. By the expression, I define the new category of heritage elaborated in the 1930s, which was intrinsically socialist and has further circulated into other socialist regimes. Usually qualify as ‘revolutionary’, it gathered both monuments erected after the revolution to materialize the dominant historical narrative and pre-revolutionary ones transformed to fit into it: they were all heritagized during the socialist period. I will then depict how distinctive from the dominant European one, heritage conceptualization in Soviet Russia was.

    The constitution of that soviet heritage was part of the project of (re)writing history and memory, and crystallized in the fundamental political evolutions of the country. Indeed, soviet heritage was an instrument to rationalize the October revolution, exposing its profound origins and materializing the Marxist rhetoric of historical materialism. More importantly, as it was supposed to contribute to the regime’s credibility, soviet heritage was a persistent tool to justify the existence of the regime itself. Consequently, this heritage was so deemed crucial for the establishment, stabilization and perpetuation of the soviet regime.Besides, I intend to show that analyzing the material culture of socialism in Russia through the prism of heritage and with a long-term perspective is fundamental to understanding the current situation of these monuments —ranging from destruction and abandonment to reconstruction and ‘musealisation’.

    Julie Deschepper is a PhD-Candidate and a teaching assistant at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (Inalco, Paris). In her dissertation, funded by a 3-year French National Doctoral Grant, she examines the processes of heritagization of the Soviet monumental and architectural productions in Russia, from the October Revolution through the post-Soviet period. Precisely, she explores and depicts the evolution and the specificity of ‘Soviet heritage’ concept through both a Soviet Union’s cultural history and critical heritage studies’ lens. Her last works have been published in the International Journal of Heritage Studies, Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’Histoire and Le Mouvement Social, and in books’ chapter (University ofToronto Press, Presses de l’Université du Québec). She recently co-organized the international conference ‘A French History of Soviet Heritage’ and co-curated the exhibition ‘The birth of a Soviet Heritage in France’ (Inalco’s Gallery). Since January 2017, she is co-directing the 2-year National Research Project ‘Comparative Approaches on Soviet Artistic Avant-Gardes’.

    Tid och plats

    När: måndag 29 april kl. 13:00-14:30

    Vad: högre seminarium

    Var: Room MA796, CBEES, Södertörn University

    Arrangeras av: The Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.

    Evenemangsspråk: engelska