Politics of state celebrations in Belarus

In this article, Maryia Rohava discusses citizens and their participatory roles in the symbolic production of state celebrations.   

Cover of Nations and Nationalism journal, world map
Photo: Journal of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism

Collective identities

National celebrations have been defined as manifestations of collective identities that glorify the nation and strengthen the national community. However, the magnitude and design of celebrations in autocratic states indicate a different ideational function that these symbolic events play in an autocratic political system. Autocratic elites have the administrative capacity to distort everyday routines and impose ideological principles of how people participate in state celebrations. How citizens engage in official celebratory practices in an authoritarian political context formulates a valuable contribution to the conceptualization of national celebrations.

Symbolic politics in autocratic Belarus

Drawing on focus group discussions and ethnographic observations, Maryia Rohava investigates how people negotiate meanings of celebratory and commemorative practices in the context of autocratic Belarus, and discusses how volatile the symbolic politics is when the invention of new symbolic traditions or the reinvention of old narratives does not appeal to all social groups and lacks authenticity.


The publication is available through Wiley Online Library.


Published Aug. 7, 2020 12:11 PM - Last modified Aug. 7, 2020 1:27 PM