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

Milosz Zielinski (Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences)

Was Immanuel Kant a Loser? Spraying of Philosopher's House in March 2015 and the Future of Kaliningrad Oblast and Its Identity

In March 2015, an incident occurred in the village of Vesyolovka (near Chernyakhovsk, Kaliningrad Oblast). An old, red brick house where Immanuel Kant lived was devastated. The perpetrator(s) sprayed two words: "Kant - loser." The happening was widely commented by regional media. Many argued that the perpetrators should be severely punished as Kant had been an iconic philosopher. Some accused regional authorities of not taking care of the site enough. There were also voices suggesting that the spraying had been a symbol of the tragic situation of the pre-war pieces of architecture. Roughly at the same time, a regional Orthodox forum took place in Kaliningrad. Its participants argued that Russianness was threatened there. They issued a resolution suggesting that Russian history and culture were not supported actively enough. The incident and its consequences make it legitimate to ask a broader question: to what extent can the remnants of the pre-war past co-exist with post-war Kaliningrad Oblast? To address this question, I analyse the incident itself as well as the reaction it evoked, the resolution and web pages on pre-war legacy in the region. I will also conduct interviews with Oblast's inhabitants and experts on the region. Based on the March events, I argue that two basic visions of Kaliningrad Oblast's identity exist in the public discourse. The first one is that Russian Kaliningrad is endangered by external forces. Traditional Russian values (Orthodox religion, family, reluctance to non-traditional ways of life) have to be defended there. The second vision is a Europeanised Kaliningrad, a bridge between Russia and Europe. It should base its identity on inclusion and cooperation. In today's international context the former is gaining strength more than ever after 1991. For the time being there is little possibility to accommodate both visions which puts the hitherto cooperation framework to question.