Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Julia Gerlach (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL)

"Like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem": The Idea of "Sacred Space" in Contemporary Political Narratives of Crimea

In his December 2014 presidential address to the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin recalled the year about to come to an end, focusing on landmark events for Russia. Most prominently, he elaborated on what he refers to as the "historical reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia". With the annexation of Crimea, Russian officials and state-controlled media have made the creation of narratives of space a top political priority whereas special emphasis is put on Crimea. Some of the most remarkable notions have become the motif of shared Orthodox history applied to Crimea, and the idea of Crimea as "sacred space". Today's official accounts uniting Russia and Crimea begin with the mythical baptism of Prince Vladimir in ancient Khersones (Crimea) and spread until current claiming Crimea had sacral importance to Russia "like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the followers of Islam and Judaism." In March 2015, the Russian tv-station Rossia 1 broadcasted a two and a half hours documentary by Andrei Kondrashov entitled "Crimea—Travel Home" which was watched by more than 40% of Russia's adult population according to information provided by Rossia. The film sought to make sense of the events that have led to Crimea joining the Russian Federation in 2014. The first images displayed show an approach to Crimea from the Black Sea, focusing on an Orthodox church in a picturesque setting on a cliff right by the water. The first sound the audience hears is the ringing of a church bell. Then, in a stark contrast, military helicopters are shown, and a few seconds later, President Vladimir Putin starts outlining his motifs and actions in "bringing Crimea home". This conference contribution aims to shed light on the idea of "sacred space" in contemporary narratives and the political rationality behind it.