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Fellow Seminar

06 February 2020

Dr. Anastasia Felcher will present her research proposal on the topic: "Alexander Pushkin as Foreign Heritage: Transformation and Cultural Disintegration in Post-Soviet Societies" on 6 February 2020 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS conference hall.


For modern Russian culture in the making, a universal value was attributed to the poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) as the founder of modern Russian literature. This value, however, was on many occasions stimulated, claimed and (ab-)used not only by the cultural elites in Russia, but also by the Imperial/Soviet/post-Soviet Russian state. This centrality of Pushkin as a high-brow force for nation-building, including becoming a mobilizing tool for non-Russian peripheries, represents a highly rich case for the study of entangled bonds between literature and politics in the 19th, 20th and 21st cent. in multiple geographical locations. As the poet extensively traveled within the Russian Empire during his lifetime (willingly or unwillingly), this triggered a rich infrastructure of Pushkin-related memory sites flourishing within the borders of Russia and far beyond it, which mirrored the poet becoming the symbol of Russianness.

The post-Soviet transformation changed the balance of power and reformulated the geographical metaphor of the 'Center' and 'Periphery' for the entire region. Pushkin sites in the focus of research - in Vilnius, Chişinău and Odessa - to a different extent lost their prestige. As Russian culture became the new ‘Other', some Pushkin monuments faced the thread to be removed from public space; Pushkin scholarship reduced to becoming almost a non-existing one; and Pushkin museums faced disregard, lack of funding and desolation. With the 2009 spread of the ‘Russian world' infrastructure to the CIS states, new agency and Pushkin-centered activities became visible in Lithuanian, Moldovan and Ukrainian cultural scenes. Yet, after the 2014 Crimea affair, public treatment of Pushkin sites beyond Russia altered once again.

The core interest of my research is to reveal complex agency, as well as multiple mechanisms and strategies that took place in relation to Pushkin as an example of tangible and intangible heritage-making in Vilnius, Chişinău and Odessa in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. I analyze this heritage-making through the prism of public discourse that surrounded Pushkin-related public space, scholarship and museums. The presentation will address the above mentioned case study within theoretical framework of post-1989/91 cultural transformation in the region, disintegration, and trans-border heritage.

Anastasia Felcher specializes in cultural history of East-European borderlands. She holds a PhD in management and development of cultural heritage from the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca (2016). In her post-doctoral years, she has been a research associate in the international research project "Memory Politics in Russia and International Arena: Actors, Strategies, Approaches" sponsored by the Russian Science Foundation under the grant no. 17-18-01589 based at the INION RAN in Moscow (2017-2019). Also, she received fellowships at the German Historical Institute in Moscow (2017), the Leibniz Institute for History and Culture of Eastern Europe in Leipzig, GWZO (in the framework of Leibniz Science Campus "Eastern Europe - Global Area", EEGA@future, 2019), and worked as a country expert for the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure, EHRI (2018-2019). Her academic interests include heritage of minorities in plural societies; literature and politics, and museum-making in East-European peripheries.

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