Myths in the Russian collective memory: the golden era of pre-revolutionary Russia and the disaster of 1917

Blackburn, M. (2018) Myths in the Russian collective memory: the golden era of pre-revolutionary Russia and the disaster of 1917. Scando-Slavica, 64(1), pp. 31-46. (doi:10.1080/00806765.2018.1447816)

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Abstract

This paper examines shared ideas, values and interpretations of the past in the “collective memory” of the 1917 October Revolution. Employing a qualitative approach to examine collective memory “from below,” two age cohorts were interviewed in three Russian cities from a variety of social groups in 2014–2015. What was revealed was the existence of a strong positive myth about the pre-revolutionary era of 1900–1914, as well as positive references to the current Putin era. Both eras were “positive” in that Russia was/is a “normal European power,” “on the rise economically” and “respected by the other powers.” In terms of the definitive national trauma, an overwhelming majority viewed the 1917 October Revolution as a break or rupture in Russian history that caused appalling destruction. This view of 1917 as catastrophic leads to certain key “lessons”: that revolutionary change is inherently destructive and wasteful and that external forces had (and have) a vested interest in weakening Russia from without whenever she is at her most vulnerable. Overall, at the heart of myths over 1917 we find a central occupation with the threat of disintegration and a yearning for stability and normality, highlighting how collective memory interacts with political values and social identity.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Blackburn, Mr Matthew
Authors: Blackburn, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Journal Name:Scando-Slavica
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN:0080-6765
ISSN (Online):1600-082X
Published Online:29 March 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Association of Scandinavian Slavists and Baltologists
First Published:First published in Scando-Slavica 64(1): 31-46
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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