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.

The Corporeality of Working-Class Men in Labor Regimes and the Private Sphere. Extended Summary

Abstract. The article considers masculine corporeality as enacted in the working spaces of a construction site and a factory and as it is displayed in the private lives of workers through their sexuality and practices of care for the self. I compare the narratives of corporeality of male blue-collar workers from Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which I collected in 2010–2011. How do workers narrate their bodies? How is masculine corporeality related to the differing labor regimes of a Moscow construction site and a Saint Petersburg factory? What sexual strategies do male workers use? And how is masculine subjectivity constituted through practices of care for the self? This article aims to answer these questions. In Russian, extended summary in English.

Keywords: Masculine Body; Blue-Collar Workers; Masculine Sexuality; Masculine Subjectivity; Somatic Culture; Russia

The crisis of masculinity in the contemporary world challenges many traditional tenets of gender theory. In modern Russia, physical labor has always been considered a masculine sphere, and male blue-collar workers are thought to epitomize normative masculinity. However, in the 1990s, when the status of Russian workers was downgraded and their economic standing worsened, the value attributed to masculinity was challenged. Scholars describe a “crisis of masculinity” arising in the post-Soviet transition. Its distinguishing characteristics are the impossibility of conforming to the paradigms of traditional masculinity, defiant physical behavior incompatible with self-preservation instincts, destructive bodily practices, harmful habits, and accidents, leading to the high susceptibility of men to various health disorders. Read more…