Conflicting Memories? State-Driven Memory Politics and Narratives of Local Museums. Soviet Heritage in Post-Soviet Circumstances

Thirty years after the collapse of USSR, the establishment of Soviet rule and its consolidated continuance remains an inevitable part of the memory discourse in independent Armenia. Hypothetically, on the national level Soviet heritage was posited as undesirable and often obscured. Positive contradictory narratives related to the past are maintained on the local level though. Moreover, it is assumed that official institutionalized memory in Post-Soviet Armenia was strongly intercorrelated with earlier forbidden memory of Diaspora Armenians. Thus, Soviet heritage in Armenia and the memory of the past 70 years were marginalized and, in radical cases, tabooed and forcibly forgotten. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to examine interrelations between state-driven memory politics and local memories. As such, the principal research question of the proposed paper is stated as follows: how do institutional state-driven memory narratives interrelate with the forms and content of local museums and contextual public realms of memory? Additionally, the question of how the Soviet heritage is represented on the local and national level is examined. Methodologically, tools of political anthropology are implemented through interviews, observation, and in-depth semiotic analysis and positioned as the main methods. Collected data is analyzed comparatively in the aim of tracing the process of reconstruction of mnemonic structures related to the Soviet heritage. In theory, the paper is based on the memory studies framework in the context of the anthropological and semiotic analysis of the political center-periphery division. Researched material consists of local museums juxtaposed with national museums, serving to contextualize realms of memory within central and peripheral circumstances.

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