Social Practices of Using War Memorials in Russia: A Comparison between Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd and Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow

My paper co-authored with Elizaveta Polukhina Social Practices of Using War Memorials in Russia: A Comparison between Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd and Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow is published in The Russian Sociological Review.

This paper presents the results of research into the social practices of using memorials dedicated to the Second World War in post-soviet Russia. The authors introduce a comparative analysis of two case studies. They examine Poklonnaya Gora, located in Moscow, which is a site of memory (lieux de memoir), according to Pierre Nora, where there was no real fighting during the Battle of Moscow in 1941–1942. This is contrasted with Mamayev Kurgan, located in Volgograd, which is a site of remembrance (lieux de souvenir), according to Aleida Assman, where violent fighting took place during the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942–1943. The authors describe in detail the spatial infrastructure of both memorials and make a classification of the practices in relation to their use, including commemorative, political, leisure, religious, and infrastructure-related social practices exercised by different groups of social agents. The authors conclude that Poklonnaya Gora is a universal memorial relaying a monological heroic discourse, whereas Mamayev Kurgan reproduces the same triumphant discourse, yet twisted through the local context of interaction between the local authorities and the city’s communities.

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