The cultural politics of commemoration: Media and remembrance of the Russian revolutions of 1917

Chatterje-Doody, Precious N and Gillespie, Marie (2020). The cultural politics of commemoration: Media and remembrance of the Russian revolutions of 1917. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 23(3) pp. 305–314.



The year 2017 marked the centenary of the revolutions of February and October 1917 which led to the collapse of the Russian Empire. These events (and their accompanying mythologies) proved pivotal in creating a uniquely politicised approach to remembrances of revolution across and beyond the post-Soviet space. This special section uses the revolutions’ centenary as an entry point for reassessing the cultural politics of commemoration. In particular, it draws attention to the transformations in memory work brought about by an increasingly integrated global media environment, in which interactions between multiple cultural actors influence the formation of (and exclusion from) cultural memory. These diffuse memory-making processes influence contemporary political and social developments within and beyond the societies in question. The articles presented in this special section interrogate how Russian and international media represented the revolutions, both for their domestic and international audiences. Together, they address questions about what regime-sponsored narratives of the Russian revolutions of 1917 can tell us about contemporary neo-authoritarian politics of identity, history and memory; the cultural significance of real-time, interactive media events for ‘memory work’, and for the participatory re-creation of revolutionary ideas and passions; the ways in which TV audiences and social media users of different generations and political persuasions respond to and interact with representations of revolution; and the nature of the relationship between cultural politics, memory and newsmaking. In bringing into dialogue work from a variety of disciplines and with a range of methodological approaches, the articles in this special section interrogate the fundamentals of the relationship between culture, media and politics in today’s globalised real-time media ecology.

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