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BIASED PEERING INTO THE PAST: THE “HELL” AND “HEAVEN” OF THE SOVIET ERA IN CONTEMPORARY MUSEUM NARRATIVES

Igor Morozov, Irina Sleptsova (Kyzlasova) (I_Kyzlasova@mail.ru)

Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Citation: Morozov I., Sleptsova I. (2020) S pristrastiyem vglyadyvayas' v proshloye: «ad» i «ray» sovetskoy epokhi v sovremennykh muzeynykh narrativakh [Biased peering into the past: the “hell” and “heaven” of the Soviet era in contemporary museum narratives]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 23(5): 195–224 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2020.23.5.8

Abstract. The paper presents the results of a study of the category of private museums, dedicated to the Soviet past, which has been actively developing in recent decades. The authors studied more than 50 domestic and foreign museums, among which several types stand out: USSR museums, museums of Soviet (socialist) everyday life, industrial museums, museums and museum spaces that use Soviet symbols for recreational and entertainment, educational and commercial purposes. In order to identify the specifics of these museums and the motivations of their creators, modern ways of museumification of the history of everyday life and achievements of the USSR era, the principles of reflection in the museum space of Soviet ideology and political repression have been investigated, new trends in their comprehension have been analyzed. With the help of an interpretative approaches and discourse analysis, the content specificity of expositions of museums of this type has been studied, including their characteristic macro-positions and decor principles; ideological content, which largely determines the museum content; types of museum discourses and used narratives; interactions composition and other practices carried out in the museum space. Particular attention is paid to the mode of discourse, that is, its emotional and stylistic component, which allows informal communication in the museum space within the framework of the common communicative field arising on the basis of personal memories, as a result of which the dialogue between the guide and visitors becomes personality-oriented. The results of the study show that the motivation for these museums creation may be not only nostalgia for the Soviet past or overcoming the traumas suffered during the period of repression, but also attempts to master the legacy of the Soviet past, adapting its individual elements to the realities of today. The analysis of the museum discourse makes it possible to determine the channels and ways of broadcasting the main ideologemes and to identify the factors influencing the formation of the actual politics of memory. The article uses materials from the authors' field studies conducted in 2020, as well as information about such museums from the media and Internet sources. 

Keywords: Soviet past, USSR museums, the politics of memory, memory wars, museumification, ‘Soviet past’, Soviet ideologemes, nostalgia, historical trauma, Soviet heritage.

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