Volume 71 Number 4 Abstracts

Broken History and Crumbling Stones: The Romantic Conception of Architectural Preservation

Andreas Schönle

In this article Andreas Schönle explores the treatment of ruins in the Romantic period, in particular the propensity toward holistic reconstruction, rather than preservation of architectural heritage. He argues that the Romantic disregard of extant heritage harks back to the Sentimentalist infatuation with the fleetingness of life and dramatization of loss, that this melancholy feeling stoked a sense of national victimization, and that it legitimated an imaginary reinvention of the past and the constructedness of collective memory. The Church of the Tithe in Kiev serves as a case study illustrating that the Romantic commitment to totality has resulted in the significant destruction of architecture. Depictions of its ruins in travel accounts and in the writings of Vadim Passek and Andrei Murav’ev evidence a marked desire to exacerbate the sense of loss rather than to describe and valorize the remains. This disregard of heritage reprises the Sentimentalist infatuation with melancholy prominently deployed by Nikolai Karamzin. A comparison with Eugene Viollet-le-Duc in France and Augustus Pugin in England indicates that in Russia the invention of a national style of architecture required a much more radical imposition upon the historical landscape.


Maiakovskii and the Mobile Monument: Alternatives to Iconoclasm in Russian Culture

James Rann

This article examines Vladimir Maiakovskii’s frequent references to statues and monuments in his poetry in relation to traditions of iconoclasm in Russian culture in order not only to shed light on the poet’s attitude toward the role of the past in the creation of a new culture but also to investigate the way in which the destruction, relocation, and transformation of monuments, both in the urban landscape and in art, reflects political change in Russia. James Rann demonstrates that, while Maiakovskii often invoked a binary iconoclastic discourse in which creation necessitates destruction, his poetry also articulated a more nuanced vision of cultural change through the symbol of the moving monument: the statue is preserved but also transformed and liberated. Finally, an analysis of “Vo ves’ golos” shows how Maiakovskii’s myth of the statue helped him articulate his relationship to Soviet power and to his own poetic legacy.

Socialist Churches: Heritage Preservation and “Cultic Buildings” in Leningrad, 1924-1940

Catriona Kelly

The demolition of churches is a notorious episode in Soviet political history, normally discussed in the context of the history of church-state relations. Yet which prerevolutionary buildings were meant to fit into a “model socialist city” such as Leningrad and how this was to happen was also a planning issue. Soviet planners (unlike members of the militant atheist movement) drew a distinction between buildings and their (current or possible) functions. The monument protection agencies were often successful in arguing that buildings of “historic and artistic importance” should be preserved, even in the face of considerable pressure from other city departments (for example,  the suggestion that Smol’nyi Cathedral be demolished for the bricks). However, they gave preference to churches that lacked an “odiously ecclesiastical appearance,” were ruthless about sacrificing churches that they deemed to be of secondary significance, and readily agreed to secular uses for “cultic buildings.” As Catriona Kelly shows in this article, most of the local intelligentsia considered these planning decisions to be appropriate; it was not until the postwar decades, and more particularly the Brezhnev era, that attitudes to “cultic buildings” began to change.

Staging Patriotism: Popular Resposes to Solidarno¶æ in Soviet Ukraine, 1980-1981

Zbigniew Wojnowski

Zbigniew Wojnowski explores Soviet popular responses to Solidarity during the early 1980s, focusing in particular on Ukraine and its western borderlands. Shifting emphasis from internal Soviet dynamics to transnational interactions in eastern Europe, Wojnowski challenges dominant narratives of late Soviet and Ukrainian history. Whereas Alexei Yurchak maintains that members of the “last Soviet generation” were essentially indifferent to the Soviet state and its ideology, popular responses to Solidarity suggest that, in some contexts at least, Soviet citizens still engaged with the state in active and meaningful ways during the early 1980s. Drawing on the rhetoric of Soviet patriotism in various public forums, many residents of Ukraine claimed the right to comment on official policies. In this sense, the types of citizenship that had developed in the USSR after 1945 survived into the early 1980s. Most surprisingly, perhaps, Soviet patriotism provided a crucial source of vitality for Leonid Brezhnev’s regime even in Ukraine’s western borderlands, which have often been seen as the “least Soviet” part of the USSR.

Prosperity without Security: The Precarity of Interpreters in Postsocialist, Postconflict Bosnia-Herzegovina

Catherine Baker

This article uses life history interview data collected during a project on languages and peace support operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina to consider, as an occupational group, people from former Yugoslavia who were employed as interpreters by foreign military forces. In exploring their opportunities for temporary prosperity and the sources of precarity that were associated with this distinctive form of work, Catherine Baker discusses the socioeconomic transformation of Bosnia-Herzegovina both in light of literature on postsocialist labor and in light of a global “development-security nexus” that may be observed during and after contemporary conflicts. Neither lens is sufficient for understanding the full extent of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Baker concludes by making the case for researchers of all postsocialist societies in central and eastern Europe, not just the societies that have directly experienced armed conflict, to take account of the global context of security, development, humanitarianism, and intervention.

Fault Lines in Russia’s Discourse of Nation: Television Coverage of the December 2010 Moscow Riots

Stephen Hutchings and Vera Tolz

This article analyzes Russian television news accounts of the December 2010 Manezhnaia riots that followed an ethnic Russian football fan’s murder by a group of men from the North Caucasus. It focuses on the narrative struggle to reconcile official nation-building rhetoric with grassroots realities and broadcasters’ own assumptions. Using the tools of media discourse analysis, Stephen Hutchings and Vera Tolz demonstrate that national television’s conceptual apparatus consists of a multifaceted amalgam in which interpretations of the Soviet period are modified through the influences of late imperial Russian intellectual traditions and western interpretations of societal diversity. Hutchings and Tolz show how the essentialization of ethnic boundaries within this apparatus leads both to the overinterpretation of interethnic aspects of the crisis, and to their occlusion. Rather than submitting to a univocal state machine, post-Manezhnaia broadcasting reveals fault lines whose partial convergence around a single narrative reflects the restricted logic of the conceptual apparatus and a perceived need to reflect the public mood.