Memory production, vandalism, violence: Civil society and lessons from a short life of a monument to Stalin

Selbi Durdiyeva

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The implicit positive image of civil society forces commentators to evaluate its work quantitively (arguing “the more – the better”). In contrast, civil society consists of different groups of the population, including far-right groups. These groups engage in revisionism of history, scapegoat marginalized groups of the population, appeal to populistic agenda and support state policies in an attempt to overcome not only Russia's past but also the present. Therefore, the need to analyze “the textures and temperatures” (Krygier, 2002) of civil society stands apparent. In an attempt to do so, this work examines an act of erection of a monument to Stalin, which was removed by local municipalities and vandalized by other civil society groups. The group's behaviour is evaluated from the standpoint of “civility” thus asking how “civil” civil society should be? Possible ways of dealing with similar initiatives are outlined through the concepts of tolerance, resistance, and violence. The work argues that this case raises more significant issues concerning questions of re-writing of the past, political and mnemonic schisms, expressed not only by Kremlin but also by civil society groups. A thicker understanding of the concept of “violence” is suggested, which transcends the limiting vocabulary of the liberal tradition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalConstellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory
Early online date6 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished online - 6 Aug 2020


  • Memory
  • Russia
  • Soviet Repressions
  • civil society
  • uncivil civil society
  • Stalinism
  • monuments
  • youth groups


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