FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
RUS | ENG

Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 2017, no. 13

 

‘THE BLACK CAR’ AS A SYMBOL OF REVOLUTIONARY VIOLENCE IN 1917: PHOBIA, MYTHEME, EMOTIONAL STIMULUS

Vladislav Aksenov
Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences
19 D. Ulyanova Str., Moscow, Russia
vlaks()mail.ru

Abstract: The article studies the phenomenon of rumours in 1917 about ‘black cars’, which were a visualisation of ordinary people’s fears of various forms of violence. It notes that these rumours were a form of mass phobia, widespread in Petrograd and Moscow, but also known in other Russian cities. The methodological basis of the work includes historical anthropology, the history of emotions, and social psychology. The author considers the rumours’ intertextual basis: connections with prerevolutionary criminal urban legends, literary and cinematic works, and political and religious discourses. He notes the role of the rumours as an emotional stimulus that provoked the aggression of the crowd. He examines the dynamics of the image of the ‘black car’, from a symbol of counter-revolution to a symbol of revolutionary abuse of power and anarchy. It is pointed out that contemporary urban legends also retain a memory of ‘black cars’.

Keywords: rumours, phobias, urban legends, history of emotions, 1917 revolution, black car, mass consciousness.

To cite: Aksenov V., ‘“The Black Car” as a Symbol of Revolutionary Violence in 1917: Phobia, Mytheme, Emotional Stimulus’, Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 2017, no. 13, pp. 186–212.