Drawing on theories of civic engagement and culture (Dahlgren 2009; Dalghren 2013; Dahlgren and Olsson 2005; Kaun 2013; Schudson 1999, Bennett, Wells, and Rank 2009; Hartley 2010, Ratto and Boller 2014; van Zoonen, Visa and Mihelja 2010; Bakardieva 2009), this study investigates Instagram accounts created by communities of citizen-historians as specific practices of civic engagement. More specifically I focus on accounts of three historic preservation activist organisations: Non-commercial foundation Krokhino, organisation Arkhnadzor, and organisation Moskva, Kotoroj Net (Moscow that no longer exists).
The organisations are active in public sphere organising protests against demolishing of cultural landmarks, seeking and managing volunteer groups to help on the heritage sites, arranging public hearings on urgent matters and series of lectures on topical issues to educate and inform publics. They also collect and preserve information on and memories about vanishing architectural gems in Russia via soliciting contributions from members within communities as well as by doing archival research.
Apart of being a platform for promotion of activities and events, as well as marketing of new publications and guided tours, Instagram accounts become spontaneous archives documenting activities of citizen-historians and medial infrastructures in the staging of a new conception of communal relations, and hence, as a device to frame a newly emerging conception of individuality.
I conceptualise these Instagram accounts as digital archives created by communities of feeling that invoke the nation as a community based on affective connections (i.e., an intimate public), emphasising “affective and emotional attachments located in fantasies of the common, the everyday, and a sense of ordinariness” (Berlant 2008, p. 11). The participants of such archives are marked by a commonly lived history and shared emotional knowledge of historical experiences. Empirical data for this study comes from ethnographic research which involved interviews with the makers of the archives conducted in autumn 2016 and content analysis of the digital platforms conducted in autumn 2016.
Dr. Ekaterina Kalinina will present her work at the Aleksanteri Institute Visiting Fellows Research Seminar on Thursday 29th November 2018 at 14:15 in the Aleksanteri Institute 2nd floor meeting room, Unioninkatu 33, Helsinki. The event will be chaired by Dr. Sanna Turoma.