Patriotism without Patriots? Perm-36 and Patriotic Legitimation in Russia

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Abstract

This article examines the takeover of the Perm-36 GULAG museum as emblematic of the dynamics of patriotic legitimation in Russia. The museum was dedicated to preserving the memory of the victims of Soviet political repression and it grew in popularity into the 2000s, emerging as an opposition platform and target for self-styled patriots who accused it of distorting Soviet history. The regional government soon joined the battle, finally forcing the museum’s takeover and transforming it into a site honoring the GULAG rather than its victims. Drawing on interviews conducted with the museum’s former director and scientific directors in 2015 and extensive local press materials, this analysis of the struggle over Perm-36 demonstrates the significance of patriotism in sustaining the regional government’s attacks even in the absence of federal patronage. The findings thus challenge prevailing understandings of authoritarian regime politics as driven primarily by patronage and power-maximizing elites.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSlavic Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Russia
  • patriotism
  • legitimacy
  • authoritarianism
  • ideational power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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