Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Maria Matskevich (Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia)

The 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution as a Resource: To Use or Not to Use?

Many scholars had been anticipated 2017 as a moment when their accounts for the Russian Revolution would get a special attention. Anniversaries’ part in commemoration is well covered within the Memory studies. Traditionally, anniversaries are considered by various actors to be a powerful resource for their actual purposes. In the USSR, the Russian revolution had been not only a lieu de memoire but also the main point to build a Soviet identity. In Russia, seeking for an identity or for a founding myth is still going on, full of controversy. As many scholars argue, within the actual memory politics, the Revolution is no longer the ‘founding event’, but this is the victory in the WWII, or the Great Patriotic War, more precisely, instead. However, there is still a question about evaluations of the Russian revolution. During the 70th and 90th anniversaries celebrations, we could see many actors developing ideas of a symbolic continuity/discontinuity with the Revolution. Although in 2017, a rather unexpected situation occurs with almost no celebration at the governmental level. The February Revolution anniversary passed almost invisibly to a general public. Political leaders have not tried to use the anniversary or the revolutionary symbols in their activities as much as it was expected. Moreover, many party representatives regardless their political stands tend to denote any revolution as an unwanted event for today’s Russia. Many participants of the protest rallies, while being surveyed, told they were ‘strongly against’ any revolution in Russia and they would like to ‘prevent a revolution’. The proposed presentation will consider which of the preliminary hypotheses about the coming celebration come or doesn’t come true within the anniversary year of 2017, what actors does or does not use the symbolic power of the Russian revolution. Some assumptions and accounts for their reasons will be suggested.