The Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM), a railroad in East Siberia
and the Russian Far East, became the last large Soviet industrial project.
Its construction in the 1970s and 1980s attracted migrants from
across the USSR, who formed the bamovtsy, or group of BAM builders.
They share a history of working and living along the BAM and
constitute the majority population in the region. The article argues
that emotionally charged social memory of the BAM construction
plays the central role in reproducing and reinforcing the bamovtsy
identity in the post-Soviet period. Drawing on in-depth interviews
and focus groups, the article examines the dynamics of both individual
and collective remembering of the socialist BAM. It forms a
vibrant discursive and emotional field, in which memories and identities
are reconstructed, relived, and contested. Commemorative ceremonies
such as the fortieth anniversary of the BAM serve as forums
of public remembering and arenas for the politics of emotions.
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