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History as Fate: The Cultural Politics of Memory, 1957-present

Professor Catriona Kelly (University of Oxford) will give a talk about how the history of Leningrad and St. Petersburg has afflicted the identities of both the city and the people living there.

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Photo: AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky

Suffering as part of the city identity

Since the late 1950s, and particularly since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, reflections on the suffering of Leningraders between 1941 and 1944, when the city was under siege, has been an inseparable part of city identity in St. Petersburg. Allied to this is the widespread belief that this suffering has been overlooked by the outside world and that its memory was systematically suppressed by the government and political elite of the USSR.

Local identities and social memories

Yet war memory, vital as it may be, is far from the only significant past in modern St. Petersburg, where local identities are shaped by layered and contradictory personal recollections and by shared social memories. In this talk, based on participant observation as well as oral history, literature and culture, and archival documents, Catriona Kelly offers a guide to the imaginative and real world of what Joseph Brodsky, in a famous essay, referred to as the "renamed city". 

Where and when

December 16, 4.15 PM, Store møterom, Georg Sverdrups hus. Tea and coffee will be served. All interested are welcome.

About the speaker

Catriona Kelly is Professor of Russian at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of New College. She has published many books and articles on Russian history and culture, including St. Petersburg: Shadows of the Past (Yale University Press, 2014), which was shortlisted for the Pushkin Russian Book Prize. She often visits Russia, and has owned a flat in St. Petersburg since 2005. She is currently completing Soviet Art House, a study of the Lenfilm studio from the early 1960s to the 1980s.

Published Aug. 27, 2019 10:19 PM - Last modified Oct. 9, 2019 2:02 PM