Protest and Memory: Using the Past in the Making Sense of the Present in Minsk, Belarus

This presentation will discuss how the current protests in Belarus have transformed and re-arranged the system of historical and cultural references that shaped the foundation of Belarusian collective memory and identity discourses since 1994, which centred on two segregated but co-existing martyrological projects – the official discourse focused on the memory of the victims of fascism, and the oppositional discourse focused on the memory of victims of Stalinism. During the 2020 protests, these previously disconnected and competing historical narratives have blended and integrated as a result of memory work aimed at supplying symbolic means of making sense of the new experience of political violence. Presentation will discuss the case of the Museum of Great Patriotic War in Minsk and its symbolic role in the spatial dynamics of the Belarusian protests in August-September 2020.

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