FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
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Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 25

 

LOCAL PAST ON THE MARGINS OF THE NATIONAL: LOCAL MUSEUMS OF THE NORTHERN LADOGA REGION IN THE POST-SOVIET PERIOD

Ekaterina Melnikova

Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences
3 Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, Russia
melek()eu.spb.ru

Abstract: This paper deals with the issue of how the small provincial museums of contemporary Russia represent local past. I argue that the widespread idea of state sponsored museums as vehicles of national ideologies does not comply with the modern situation. Museums enter the markets of tourism and heritage while remaining the parts of the state museum system. In the context of territorial branding, and competition with other regions for visitors and investments, local museums break from the model of representing the “national” and search for local specifics, while ignoring national frameworks. I use the example of the Northern Ladoga region, which has a long and complicated history due to its North European border. During the last changes of the borders after World War II, Finland ceded the territory to the Soviet Union. Using the materials of exhibitions, observations, and interviews with museum guides, I focus on the modern shifts in representing local past in small museums of the region. Today, history has become the most claimed resource of local imagination in the framework of the museum display, but the past which is associated with local culture is usually interpreted as the heritage of the territory rather than of its inhabitants. Viewed from this angle, the displayed past renders the romantic ideas of a “golden age,” when the territory was part of another country. Mostly unknown to local people, this past is seen as an exotic image which provides the region with a trendy brand, but it is not related to any personal or familial histories of local people.

Keywords: local museums, kraevedenie, memory studies, local heritage, history, anthropology of memory.

To cite: Melnikova E.. 'Lokalnoe proshloe na granitse natsionalnogo: kraevedcheskie muzei Severnogo Priladozhya v postsovetskoe vremya' [Local Past on the Margins of the National: Local Museums of the Northern Ladoga Region in the Post-Soviet Period], Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 25, pp. 9–41.

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/025/melnikova.pdf