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Power and TimeTemporalities in Conflict and the Making of History$
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Dan Edelstein, Stefanos Geroulanos, and Natasha Wheatley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226481623

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.001.0001

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Commemorating the End of History: Timelessness and Power in Contemporary Russia

Commemorating the End of History: Timelessness and Power in Contemporary Russia

(p.400) 16 Commemorating the End of History: Timelessness and Power in Contemporary Russia
Power and Time

Kevin M. F. Platt

University of Chicago Press

Russian history and memory of the era of the Soviet collapse and the turbulent 1990s is an important topic for comprehension of contemporary Russian culture and politics, yet one that is poorly understood and minimally theorized. Work on Russian history and memory has focused primarily on representations of iconic personalities, events and processes: Soviet triumph in World War II, the era and figure of Joseph Stalin, issues of post-Soviet nostalgia and memory of collective trauma, etc. But what of other historical moments and events of equally great significance for contemporary Russia, such as the founding era of the current Russian polity at the start of the 1990s? This chapter turns attention to the history and memory of this “by no means unequivocal” period, as Vladimir Putin characterized it in his 2007 “Memorandum to the Russian Federal Assembly.” Russian discourse concerning the years of transition range from a studied silence among political elites to a managed cacophony of divergent non-official and semi-official representations. As analysis of monuments, educational materials, popular history, and public and political speech reveals, this unusual distribution of historical and memorial activity functions to disorient Russian political discourse by sustaining a regime of historical indistinction and “timelessness.”

Keywords:   Russia, Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin, end of history, timelessness

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